Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Was that really the left lead?

I had a moment of total confusion during last night’s ride. Both my body and my brain did not know what to do. Grace’s left lead was so balanced and correct that I had to double check the direction I was going in and ask “Was that really the left lead?”

I took Grace out of her pasture in the Connected Groundwork halter. After tacking her up I walked her to the arena combing the line and stretching the bow along the way. Out on the line Grace was plodding along at the walk, not really using her body. It wasn’t long before I noticed a change in her walk. At first I thought it was even slower, but then I recognized that the footfalls were sequenced, a very clear 1,2,3,4. Grace’s trot work was as nice as it was the day before, and I saw an improvement on the line at the lope. I would like to see a better stop from the walk, she still has a tendency to bring her head up, but I know if I stay consistent with the groundwork that it won’t take long for her to figure it out.

I rode Grace in my Les Vogt elevator bit. I knew I wanted it for the work at the lope, but I was pleased to see how light she was in it at the jog. As soon as I got on she was moving better than she has been. When I get a groundwork session in before my ride it tends to take away those first 10 minutes of stiffness that I would otherwise encounter.
When I brought Grace up to the lope I put her back on the same exercise that Sarah and I had worked on Friday night. We started on the left lead which is the more difficult side. For years loping Grace has felt like riding two different horses, the left is never as nice as the right. She tends to stick her nose to the outside and swing her hip in, it is crooked, unbalanced and I have a hard time sitting it. It has improved tremendously in the last 6 months, but it still isn’t up to par with the right lead. Last night I loped Grace down the center line in a straight line, I took her nose to the left and brought my left shoulder back, I then drove her up. I felt Grace’s hind end come up underneath me and could feel that she was straight all the way to the rail. When I turned her left to continue down the rail, I allowed her to carry herself. The first time I felt myself get ahead of Grace’s movement – almost like I was anticipating something that did not happen. The next time after the straight line, I stayed with her. As I allowed her to carry herself she stayed in the same body that she had down the straight line. She was straight, even and working off her hind end. My butt was able to stay in the saddle. I actually had to ask myself what direction I was in and what lead I was on. It felt nothing like Grace’s left lead. It felt incredible! After a walk break I changed direction and did the same exercise to the right. This time when I allowed her to carry herself all I could do was smile. It was by far the best lope my horse has ever produced! Or maybe it was the best lope that I have ever allowed?

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