I needed to ride McKinna.
First, I longed Pandora, because I wanted to get her moving after yesterday's tough workout. She was fine. A little spazzy - I had two ground poles out, one on each side of a 20m circle, and the first few times she did some leaping and hopping and general silliness. On the plus side, when she jumped over the ground poles she looked nice and pretty! Ha. Anyway, she settled down, I got about 20 minutes of nice solid relaxed work, then put her away. Today I'm going to focus on having a short, positive ride.
Then I went to ride the Wonder Pony. She has a knack for dealing out what you can take - what her rider needs isn't necessarily always a quiet, calm ride, so sometimes she challenges you. But last night I needed some quiet time. It felt like from the moment I took her out of the stall, she was just taking deep breaths, relaxed and ready to calm me down. (Yes, I'm anthropomorphizing. Sue me.) She was very quiet in the cross-ties, fairly unusual for Ms. Fidget.
My whole ride was just that: quiet, calm, relaxed. I worked on some dressage with her - some baby lengthening and shortening at the trot, just holding her in with abs and seat and then relaxing and letting her surge forward. Fun stuff. I tried it at the canter, but when she's not cantered regularly under saddle she loses a lot of her canter adjustability. Still, I got a fairly good canter, considering I haven't really ridden her since my rating.
Then I tried this turn-on-the-forehand-in-motion exercise with her. Basically, it's like you're leg-yielding around a circle....so, your horse is the spoke in a wheel, and both forelegs and hind legs must move over and cross over as you rotate. A bent sidepass? A sidepass on a curved line, instead of a straight line? Yes.
Anyway, I tried that exercise with Pandora the night of my bad dressage ride, and she wasn't having any of it. I think it was very, very hard for her: she couldn't seem to coordinate the motions, no matter how big or small I had the circle. She especially struggled with crossing her forelegs over without moving forwards or backwards. (Also I think it was a tough exercise to throw at her on a day she was feeling unfocused: I'm going to break that exercise down into smaller pieces to incorporate into our normal workout, THEN try the exercise again.)
McKinna nailed the exercise, first try, easy as cake. "What are we doing now? Oh, okay, this is kinda cool, I get it." The mare is so darned supple it's ridiculous - when I had the chiropractor adjust her a long time ago, she practically folded in half on one of the stretches. When the farrier's trimming, she could hike her hind leg up to her ears and probably still stand there casually, looking around for some hay.
I should make more time to ride them both. McKinna is great fun to ride and I would really like to make some dressage progress with her, too. With her, the main issue is a strong rein connection without a super-high neck, but I have the suspicion that most lateral work would be a breeze once we established a good connection.
Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, some (fairly low-quality) pictures from the jumping lesson. You can't see all her boots but you sure can see that fly bonnet! My mom took these with her cell phone, so the timing of the jumping picture is especially impressive.
Please ignore the dorky XC-vest-over-tanktop look. It was hot.
Whooosh. Look, she CAN reach out in the trot!
Pretty good jumping - except for her hanging knee - considering she was flying through the grid. My seat and heels are up because I was bracing with my back and thighs, but at least I'm following her mouth nicely.
Thanks for all the helpful comments on that last post. I'm sure we'll get back on track today and I will go back to the quiet, constructive rides we had been having.