This morning Sandy came out to work with me and Louie, as we prepare for our upcoming show on Saturday. They have pleasure type classes in all divisions, which makes me really happy, as I don't have to worry about ruining any QH riders' classes lol. These pleasure type classes are specifically meant for light breeds, and you can show in either hunt or saddle seat in the english classes. The judge is also a pinto Saddlebred owner and lover. So I am very excited to go to this show and support it- I wish we had more like it! It will surely be a long and hot day, but this is summer in Minnesota.
I think I am going to show Louie in hunt style, as it will just be simpler to prepare for than trying to get him going in a pelham and have a half-effort saddle seat turnout, barefoot and all. So we practiced hunt seat this morning, without a martingale, something we have not worked without for a while. Overall it went very well. I haven't ridden him more than once in the past 10 days since he has been having this off and on very mild hind leg lameness that we can't figure out. It is there slightly on a lunge line, but he is perfectly sound under saddle. Maybe he's faking it to get out of work- afterall, he is very smart. Anyhow, since he was totally sound under saddle and has no obvious signs of anything wrong, we continued. The trot was pretty good despite his laziness with the heat.
We worked on the canter, which is still coming along. He is still struggling with his right lead under saddle, even though he is getting much better on a lunge line since his chiro adjustment 2 weeks ago. We worked on some roll-back canter transitions into the fence, which will really help to get him on his haunches once he becomes responsive enough to my cues to do it NOW (rather than 10 strides from the cue). After Sandy uncovered his dull responsiveness to my legs, she put some spurs on me. I have only ridden in spurs maybe one or two times in my life, so this is a new concept to me. Louie didn't mind the spurs at all, and they really helped to get a little more impulsion, keep him on the rail, and respond to my cues. After some basic intro to spurs 101, leg yielding, trotting, etc, we went back to the canter.
We are coming up with all kinds of strategies to get this right lead under saddle. Today we first tried bending his head to the rail like a lot of saddle seat horses do, but that didn't work after a few tries. So Sandy had me lean WAY back (I felt like I was laying on his croup practically), and add a little extra umph to my cue if he didn't respond the first time. This actually worked really pretty well. He got his haunches under himself better and picked up the right lead at least half of our attempts. We figured out that, since Louie likes to trot about 10 strides after I cue him before cantering, he nullifies any preparation/set up for picking up the right lead that we give him (coming out of a corner, bend, haunches in, seat position etc), has more time to think about it, and picks up the left lead. So by adding in this little extra umph (a more firm leg cue), it has helped at getting him to pick up the canter sooner after the cue, and therefore getting the right lead because he hasn't had time to get himself all un-set-up. Very interesting. So I am going to keep working on this at home this week, and hopefully he will canter on his right lead at the show.
As you can imagine, with temps in the upper 80's already this morning and a lot of canter and transition work, Louie was a sweaty monster when we finished. So we cooled out thoroughly, got a hose bath, electrolytes, then extra lunch (to make up for expended calories) after I worked hubby's horse. The day was not without loss for myself as well- I got run into the rail, and have a large bump on my shin, a big rip in my jeans over that same spot, and an open blister on my pinkie finger (on my dominant hand, nonetheless). Ouch that finger hurts, Louie was anything but soft and supple today- obviously. We need to get back into working on this as we usually do when we're doing a lot of under saddle work, and I probably need to ride in gloves for a few days at least. yuck, this heat is not conducive to equestrian activities.