Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Shades of Gray

Besides being the show name of my friend's horse, shades of gray has begun to take on a new meaning.

I think my initiative to re-sensitize Blue to my aids got off to a rousing start. He seemed much happier than he usually is, and his canter seemed a lot less up-and-down, and he was beginning to show more signs of rounding his back at the canter. That's exciting because although Blue's walk is solid and his trot is coming along nicely, we struggle a lot at the canter. These are some of the first signs of accumulating progress that I hope leads us to a better-quality canter.

Another positive effect is that when we tried some lead changes down the diagonal as we do sometimes and Blue gave me not one, but two clean lead changes! Normally he does a quick step change (note that the vet has checked him out and he is physically capable of doing them, but he seems to just have a mental block about how to shift his balance and his legs with me on top of him), and I think I can count on one hand the number of clean changes I've gotten that weren't over jumps.

After a very chippy course over the lower jumps (we both don't really know what to do with them), I experimented again with pushing my hands forward but ended up being too extreme and charging at jumps with loopy reins. I've noticed that in the course of my habit-fixing I must bounce between extremes a couple of times before I finally settle into a good place. Considering that, the course was pretty good. Blue handled the bending line well, got the right number of strides in the in-and-out, and even got the four where my friend's long-strided, 17 hh Thoroughbred gelding got the five. Granted, it was a short four, but who's counting?

So, as I mentioned I have a horse show on Saturday. It's the series end of our home show series, and I'm in contention for a Year End Champion for Low Hunter! I have another lesson on Friday, but I am thinking there won't be time until after the show to post. Hopefully I'll have some nice pictures to share! On November 2 we plan on going to another small show in the area, and I'm hoping to compete in the Hunter Classic. It's got a cash prize, which would be nice but I really am just looking forward to the challenge. The neat part is theirs is judged equally on Hunter and Equitation, so it would be a test of me and Blue's ability to work together. I'll let you know as it goes. There's a two-week window in there during which I hope to clip Blue for the winter - he gets a very shaggy winter coat early and considering the amount I plan to ride (and hope to show) it's the most fair option for both of us.

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