Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Truckin' Along

I think all I ever write about lately is how much fun I am having riding McKinna.

Oh well. I think it's a great problem to have!

We continue to slowly but steadily improve. The jumping clinic with a Pony Club instructor on Saturday was lovely. Every time we jump, I see more payoff from our dressage work. This time McKinna's canter felt so much more powerful than usual once we were on course. We even got a pretty long spot to tall X oxer, and she just launched off the ground with no problem. Not that she never took a long spot if necessary before, she just feels so confident about it these days. The nice thing is that she never gets all excited about a weird distance, just lands and keeps clocking around.

Biggest take-away lesson: I need to make sure I keep enough forward in our jumping rounds. I wasn't holding her back too much, but I had one Good round where we took a rail and had a couple not-quite-perfect distances and one Awesomely Great round where I added a little more "go" and we nailed everything. Food for thought. She's also getting balanced enough to put that forward energy to good use, instead of using it to scramble around like a tarantula on roller skates.

Lately, dressage lessons have been continuing along the same path: more, better, harder. Leslie has me asking McKinna to really lift and bend through the inside in order to fill up my outside aids. There's a sense of yielding, softening the whole inside of the body and as a result really stepping under herself. It's a fine line between needing to get the yield but also really needing to keep the outside from escaping. When I get it right, McKinna is very soft and connected and has very nice transitions.

Sometimes, I can get lovely trot-canter transitions where the head doesn't go straight up in the air and she just steps beautifully under herself. I probably get these maybe one time in four? It's still progress though, and even our "bad" transitions are much better than they used to be.

McKinna loves straight lines now! Changing rein across the diagonal is a great feeling on her. Very steady in both reins, very even through her shoulders. We continue to work on the lengthening. If I can keep her from getting too excited and hollowing out, I can feel her start to push off the hind end for longer steps.

Leslie has also gotten us started on the first baby steps of haunches in. This is exciting! If I can master haunches in, I can do half pass, because half pass is essentially haunches in across the diagonal. Very exciting. I can tell McKinna is wondering what the hell I'm trying to get her to do, but she is slowly learning that yes, I want the butt IN, and I still want inside bend. She's very compliant, which is nice. Just a little confused!

Have I mentioned how wonderful it is to be on winter break? It's wonderful. I actually really enjoyed going to work today, because I haven't been in all term. And the sleeping in part isn't too shabby either.

Also, it is COLD. Brrr.

Lesson with Devin on Thursday. I'm really excited for this one because McKinna has been doing so well on coursework, and I think it's time to start working over bigger fences. For the C-3 she needs to be comfortable and competent over a 3'3 course, so that's what we'll start working towards.

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