Last night's ride started with a very stir crazy pony! Midge had three days off and was ready to show the world how naughty she can be. I was actually a bit surprised by that, because she has had a bit of a persisting dry cough and I was worried she'd be a little under the weather (hence the relaxed schedule). We've got the vet coming out later this week to do Ginger's teeth, so Bridget can get a check up then too.
At any rate, when I got in the saddle last night Bridget was ready to go, and obviously not feeling too bothered by her cough! We kept the lesson short and easy from a physical standpoint, but it was a tough one mentally. My new enemy is the cloverleaf! We had 4 poles set up in an x pattern, and Midge was beyond excited to see 'jumps' after our recent exile into dressage land.
EC's advice: treat this as a dressage exercise, not a jumping one. We want balanced, quality gaits and transitions, we do not want excited rushing or head in the air over the 'jump'.
Canter transitions were amazing and immediate - we even got a (unasked for!) flying change or two over the poles when we started playing with reversing direction. BUT...the turns were pretty difficult on a speedy, not always balanced pony. Not to mention a rider who can't seem to remember to look for the next fence! We did have quite a few really decent turns where everything came together the way it should, and I'm excited by the potential for incorporating that feel into our daily rides. The cloverleaf also makes it so I absolutely will not make the turns if I hang on he inside rein - super rider correction exercise here :)
Our alternate exercise was picking up a canter on a 20m circle and adding in a pole here or there, while spiraling down to a 10m circle. Midge doesn't really have the balance for a 10m circle, but the beauty of spirals is you can make it a 12 or 15 when things get too tricky!
We're going to be practicing these for a while yet, along with tons and tons of transitions. I'm liking how the poles keep Midge motivated and give me a marker for where I should be. It definitely becomes obvious if I didn't get an immediate, straight transition to canter, or let her drift on the circle! EC says if I work hard, maybe by next winter we'll have a collected enough canter to do nice 10m canter circles consistently (ie on the cloverleaf). What an amazing feeling that would be!
All in all, a super productive half hour ride!