Week ago Saturday was my latest lesson with JC. Started off with temps in the low 20's when we loaded up Riva, in the dark, to head to JC's. Riva has been having trailer loading issues - as in 'lets see if they are serious about me getting in that rolling box' - for several months. We are not sure why, since this summer, my husband had her self loading. So we went back to using the rope halter to load her and she did better. Took about 10 minutes to convince Riva that loading up and getting to munch on yummy hay was better than slipping on the ice and freezing her ears off.
Arrived at JC's a bit behind schedule, due to lovely Indiana roads in December, to hear from working student daughter that JC was running late too. Chatted with Lex while I tacked up and learned she would not be riding with me in my lesson. I was a bit nervous since Lex had rode with me in our previous lessons, but it turned out to be the right decision. (Daughter is getting a trainer's mind!)
Pic not from my lesson - from Christmas Eve ride - but I need pics in my post!
JC talked with me about how things have been going while we warmed up and I told her I feel like we have been going backwards since having to ride in the indoor at home - due to cold, wet weather. Riva sucks back, avoids contact, and just does not willing go forward in the indoor at home. JC put the draw reins back on and we got to work.
It was a good decision to ride in the lesson alone because without a horse in front of us, Riva was less forward (more like home Riva!) JC zoned in on this and started showing me ways to get Riva forward. We did lots of turns on the forehand in walk, into the wall with a very small circle following the turn , then a promt trot transition. Once in trot, she had me several times use the whip rythmically 3 times and then leave her alone.
JC also told me not to nag with the whip - give Riva a good whack when I use it, not a tap - and then go on. This really came in to play when we moved to canter work - which was the majority of the lesson.
We worked on insisting Riva pick up canter as soon as I asked for it. If she did not, good whack with the whip. I have trouble keeping the contact and using the whip, so JC had me put the reins in one hand and be ready to back up with the whip as soon as Riva slowed or thought about dropping to trot before asked. Normally she slows in corners, so that was the main concentration.
Wish I had video! The first few times of canter with one hand, and backing up with the whip in corners - Riva certainly expressed her opinion, as in bucks on the fly. I perservered and once Riva knew I meant business, her whole attitude changed. I had light, forward, willing Riva and it was great!
More Christmas Eve pics - Riva was a good sport for the hat session!
As I cooled out Riva, JC and I talked about being ready to back up a request immediately and then leaving her alone. I know I tend to ask, ask, ask - and I have to change that to ASK and go on. Last year at this time, I could not even canter Riva. Now I know I not only can ride the canter, but one handed. Starting to feel like a rider!