Mia's first show is in 4 days. 4 days!!!!! She is doing really well, I am very proud of her progress over the past couple of weeks. At this rate, I think she will do really well at our show if she rides like she is here at the house :)
The dozen rides with draw reins has made Mia do a complete turnaround in how she is handling contact. She has always been very inconsistent and regularly dropped rein contact when she could, consistency has been our homework at all times. After riding with draw reins, however, she is now accepting contact without dropping it and is being very consistent about keeping it. Yay!! I have stopped riding in the draw reins (though they are still sitting in the arena just in case) and my 3rd ride without them at all was last night. I did have issues with Mia being abnormally heavy in the bridle but if that is the most I can complain about, I am okay with that. Consistency for the win!
Some of the other things we have achieved over the past few weeks have been the direct result of weak spots in our dressage tests. We are riding Intro B and Intro C as Mia still needs the basics confirmed, thus my decision to not attempt Training 1. Maybe at her next show?? The first piece that was completely lacking was a free walk, Mia had no true free walk. When you slipped her reins she wouldn't follow the contact down, she would instead hold her head where ever she felt comfortable until you picked the reins back up. And no, that isn't a free walk. We spent this past weekend installing a free walk and it is now pretty decent. I taught her how to do it by using her "head down" command over and over until she would walk with her head down and then continued until she would walk with her head down with contact. It is pretty obvious that it is still a new skill for her, as she isn't 100%, but she does pretty well at it and is consistent in doing it when asked. Yay!
Another task we had to work on was her enter down centerline to the halt. Being young and green, she trots and halts straight about like your Cousin Eddie at a your wedding reception after about 6 drinks. I haven't been able to completely fix this yet, however she is much better at going straight down centerline. I started by keeping both legs on (which didn't help), then using a leg to control her drift and then just asked for speed as she turned. Speed is what helped her be straight and now I have backed the speed off a little bit so she doesn't look like she is doing a lengthening as she comes to a halt lol. Last night I rode without applying speed down centerline and she was a little wobbly but not as bad as she has been. Progress!
Halting square is another issue we had to work on. This one is more complicated because it is a 50/50 shot on if she will halt square on her own so I am not correcting her every time anyway. I started by asking her to step forward with the leg that was back and she wasn't understanding the forward, she just kept moving off of my leg which meant going sideways. Ah mare, yes I appreciate your turns on the haunches, however this is a slightly different cue I am using :) I hopped off and started teaching her to pick up a specific foot when I tapped her leg and progressed until she would pick it up when I tapped her elbow and then mostly at her girth. After I hopped back on, she made the correlation pretty well and now will pick up her the front foot I ask for under saddle about 75% of the time. So now if she doesn't stop square, I have a shot of fixing the square-ness.
Lastly we have to work on the left canter transition, I assume because we have worked on the right SO MUCH (as it is her worst direction) she gives it to me without a fight and is quite fluid in picking it up. Her left, however, results in her cantering in the front for a stride or 2 while trotting in the rear before she picks it up. She doesn't always do this, but she does do it regularly enough to know she CAN do it correctly and chooses not to for some reason. I haven't found the magic button to fix it however if I carry a whip and give her a smack when she gives me a bad transition, she will usually stop doing it for the rest of the ride. Unfortunately I tend to not ride with a whip anymore so at least 50% of the time I forget to have one. This issue, unfortunately, hasn't yet been resolved however I am riding again tonight and am bringing the whip from the barn so I have it for when I start cantering. I think if I can be CONSISTENT in correcting her for a few rides, she will correct herself. Self accountability and all, you know? Stupid rider lol.
Other than these small issues, I think we are ready for our show. Keep your fingers crossed!