I have been extremely successful in riding this past week, 3 times since Sunday! That is where I should be in a riding frequency but haven't been since the TWH got put on injured reserve back in Sept. Go me! This week has been all about Mia, I really want to take a lesson with H to get feedback again and I need Mia to be consistent again before I do so. This weekend I plan on riding both Mia and the TWH, maybe in the next couple of weeks we will be ready for a lesson. Let's hope the weather cooperates!
My rides with Mia are becoming much more productive and I am starting to be able to do some real work with her. She can now do baby leg yields to and from the wall, can do a shoulders or haunches in, is staying fairly consistently in a decent frame, can change the speed of her walk and trot on command and is even getting a decent canter. Our rides are now pretty boring, we start our rides at the walk, stretching her neck down as I have her ride with her head close to the ground in almost a peanut roller frame. This makes her back lift up and helps stretch her neck out and reinforces the head down requirement I have. After a few laps of that I pick her up and we do some shoulder/haunches in and transition to some leg yielding from the quarter line to the wall and back. We then try to get more flexibility in the walk with speed by getting a good, long free walk and then coming back to a normal walk and down to a slow crawling walk and back again. She has a pretty hard time still with a good forward free walk but we are working on it.
The trot is usually started to the left as that is her good side. I am asking for real contact now and am consistently getting it (Yay!!), we do several circles until I can feel her relax a little as she is usually either a bit speedy or completely dead when we start trotting. Once she has a good rhythm going we start some smaller circles and once she has balance we change direction. Going to the right isn't nearly as easy, she requires several reminders to not throw her inside shoulder, or outside shoulder for that matter. She also often locks up and goes completely board stiff instead of staying bent so there is usually a discussion or two to remind her to soften and bend. Once we have that we start riding with lots of changes of direction. Serpentines, figure 8's, teardrops, all with the goal to keep her balanced as we do all of it. Overall she does really well, I have to be really quiet and light in the change of bend otherwise she loses her composure but overall she is really good.
We then transition to the canter work, we always go to the left first as it is her good side. She went from desperately trying to keep me between her and the ground to actually giving me some decent, semi-balanced canters. Her speed in the canter ends up where I want it to be and she tends to stay nice and soft in the circle. She has problems going around the entire ring but that will come. Baby steps after all!
After 2 to 3 canter transitions we switch to the dreaded right, this is her bad side. If she is going to show sass, it will be here and she usually will show some sass! She has days where she fights to pick up the wrong lead, and she seems to fight hard to be on the wrong lead too, there are also days she refuses to pick up the canter period. There are days she will dive bomb to the middle of the circle through her canter transition but will pick up the correct lead, there are days she will kick/buck through the transition. Once in the canter, the gait isn't that bad. Mia is much faster to the right but not nearly as fast as she used to be. It is now a forward canter vs a flat out run. Sometimes she will give me a nice medium canter but not every time. We also still have occasional steering problems to the right, she seems to ignore I have an outside leg and outside rein and will plow forward regardless, but we are working on it. Repetition will fix it.
After 3 to 4 decent transitions (no kick/buck, no dive bombing, no wrong leads), we walk long and low again to relax and finish with basics, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, back and sidepass. The ride usually lasts between 45-60 minutes and she then gets parked in front of a hay net while I get dinner for everyone. She sure has come a long way, as soon as I get a girth that will fit Ms Chunky Butt we can start two point/fitness and jump. I guess I have to go tack shopping, just twist my arm already!