In preparation for the upcoming Bill Woods clinic and schooling show next weekend, we worked on a few show-related topics in our lesson last Thursday.
We worked on the shapes of the figures, including the training level "loop" which I like to refer to as a "swerve." Julie was pleasantly surprised by how well we performed the figure, though she does prefer to change the diagonal on the quarter lines, to go with the change of bend. I have also been practicing weighting my new inside stirrup before making the change as I think that's a nice "heads up" for Louie.
We worked a lot on our canter- getting the depart (off my seatbone and no legs, not leaning forward, being prompt and balanced, etc), riding the canter, and canter-trot transitions through the diagonal. Julie noted that the best canter we tend to get is the one where Louie takes a step or two and then breaks to the trot because he's too weak to continue. Well we can work with that, I'll just have to push him to keep going after the first stride. He tends to do that more to the left, going to the right, surprise, surprise, he seems much more willing to canter. Funny, when cantering to the right has always been one of Louie's worst, most challenging obstacles.
We worked also quite a bit on trotting 10 meter circles and turning down the center line. Julie finds that I turn too late most of the time, so I'll just have to practice really watching where I'm going and turning a bit earlier than I think I need to. We paid some attention to learning how to salute properly as well. I guess I never knew there was a "method," but I learned it properly in 5 steps. 1: take both reins in the left hand (and whip if applicable). 2: lower the right arm down just behind the thigh, hand facing back. 3: bow head down. 4: head up. 5: take the reins and whip in both hands. Of course don't forget to smile at the judge.
All of this show stuff may seem daunting, but we still managed to work on some lateral work, practicing our shoulder in. We practiced shoulder in down the long side, then come down the center line, leg yielding toward the diagonal, maintaining the same bend and direction of movement that we did in the shoulder in down the long side.
Of course, like usual, we worked on our free walk and getting the neck to go down as quickly as asked. That is coming along pretty nicely, but I think we need to work more on our stretchy trot circle, as Louie is more willing to drop his neck in the walk than in the trot or canter.
We are very excited for the clinic this week. It will be the day after my lesson that I ride in it, so hopefully we'll be ready, well practiced, and not too fresh! I ride in the morning, so I may have to do a little warm up first if it's cold or windy outside. I know both Julie and I are excited to hear what he has to say about Louie and my riding, and what ideas he will have for helping us to get better.
As for the show, I need to learn all 3 training level tests over the next week. I've printed them out and run through them in my living room, but when you're remembering 3 different tests, it's really easy to get the movements mixed up from one test to the next. I think I must have a reader again this year, as that really helps, especially when you're riding more than one or two tests. I need to focus so hard on getting my horse moving right and my own riding that I hardly have enough brain function left to remember the next step in the test. And, from the sounds of it, we're going to have a cheering squad, so the pressure is on! Whew! I just hope that I am able to get somebody to video tape our rides.
Over this past weekend, following my lesson, I had two really nice rides on Louie in the outdoor arena, which is bigger (regulation size) and has awesome footing. I really like riding out there and I think Louie prefers to ride outside, as he is much more relaxed and things tend to come easier when he's not jumping at the sounds that the weather outside makes on the indoor arena. Granted, that is good for him to get used to, but it just makes for a more peaceful, relaxing ride without it.
Now to squeeze in one more ride and some tack cleaning before my lesson and the clinic later this week!