When we returned on Sunday, I rode Lily.
I tacked her up in the Alta Escuela and rode her in the arena, since it was late and the sun would be setting soon. I worked on the different types of rein as explained by Julie Goodnight (if you didn't read it, go here to see what I wrote; it's the only numbered section in the post), especially neck reining, combining true neck reining with the leading rein. I also played with the indirect rein in front of the withers vs behind the withers. Yup, it worked: if assisted properly with the leg, when used correctly these can distinctly tell the horse whether to move shoulders or hips. We then moved on to walk/trot/canter work, nothing special, just focusing on straightness and forwardness. We worked for 45 min. We cooled down by working on walk/halt/back, making the halt shorter and shorter until I could get Lily to switch from forward movement to backwards movement with just a shift of my seat. I told you she could do it! We also played with turns on the forehand, which is another thing that has never been our forte. She nailed it to the right, but need more work on to the left.
On Monday I made it to the barn before work and rode in the arena again. Walk/trot warmup in no fram, then got down to doing more collected work, again applying what I had learned at the Expo. We very successfully did haunches-in down the long sides of the arena in both directions, while maintaining head and neck straight. Our best haunches-in ever!! Also did shoulder-in, then moved on to cantering on a 20m circle while maintaining the correct bend. She likes to drop her shoulder when cantering to the left, but I was able to fix it by applying indirect rein. We had one particularly spectacular canter-trot transition where she stayed over her haunches, arching her neck and powering through the trot. I looked down and saw her toes flipping up in her shadow. I love when she gives me that trot.
We took a break and I let her stretch at the walk.
I had set a timer on my phone for 50 minutes since I had left my watch at home - it was chilly out, and with all the layers it's sometimes pointless to carry the watch, as I'm not going to be digging under a million sleeves to look at it. When I checked the time on my phone, Lily and I still had 30 minutes to go after our warm-up. We practiced trotting 10m circles in the center of the arena, and then leg-yielding towards the rail as we came off the circle, then reviewed neck reining at the walk assisted by the leading rein. I'm really happy to have the key to achieve this now (I've never trained a horse to neck rein, and of all of the many, many horses I've ridden, I can only think of one that truly neck reined properly), and with Lily's sensitivity, she should really get it in the near future.
On a whim, thinking of the garrocha exhibit from the previous day as demonstrated by Julio Mendoza, I asked Lily to trot. And took both reins in one hand, but maintaining the contact so I could ask her to turn with my index finger or pinkie (yes, that's how awesomely sensitive she is, and that's how they do it in Doma Vaquera). And sat back, engaging my abs. Lily collected and arched her neck, then asked to trot out while still maintaining the frame. I let her, and started to post. I extended my left arm to the side.
And we danced.
Continuing to trot, we did figure eights, circles, shoulder-in, all one-handed, in both directions. I switched hands on the reins every time we changed directions, always extending my inside arm.
I have never successfully done this before with her.
And then I cued the canter. And again sat back and engaged my core. Still one-handed. I have never cantered her one-handed before.
We stayed on a circle, spiraling in and out at the canter. Lily stayed 100% responsive, happy, listening, maintaining the correct bend and extended and collected her canter in response to my seat. We changed directions and did it again. Still one-handed, still extending my inside hand out to the side.
I was grinning from ear to ear as Lily opened up her canter, ears relaxed and forward, her mane flying back in the wind. It was SO. COOL. It was one of those times on her that are becoming more and more frequent, where it felt like we were one body and one mind.
I then brought her back down to a trot and dropped the reins on her neck, keeping one finger on them so they wouldn't slide up her neck and my other hand on my waist, letting her do whatever she wanted with her head and neck. She stretched down and out into her hunter-type frame, and picked up her all-day trot. We went around the arena several times in each direction at this pace.
And then Bob, our NH trainer, walked into the arena with a student at the same time as my timer went off, so we called it a day and cooled out.
Maybe one day we will be able to do this after all...
Aaaaaanddd...my Runmeter stats for this ride (yes, I'm OCD about tracking all the rides now...) The final walk cool down is not included in this time: