Friday, August 14, 2009

Working on "GO"

My last two rides I've worked Phantom on "GO." I've also gone back to alternating my posting diagonal every 5-6 strides when I begin trot work. What I really need are several treatments with the chiropractor, but....

Phantom (like Kiyara did) tries to anticipate what will be asked of him and becomes tense in the process. Plus, his initial canters are all bunched up (once I ride through his inclination to crossfire!). So I decided to set aside our work on connection and lateral work to focus on forward.

Afterall -- no roundness and connection without "GO."

I audited a Jack LeGoff clinic years ago where he gave a fabulous visual to explain roundness. He held up a dressage whip parallel to the ground to represent the horse's back and explained that we need to establish drive from the horse's hindquarters (rear wheel drive, so to speak). LeGoff then placed his hand at the lash end of the whip as he "drove the horse forward" and when the whip met the resisting hand it formed an arch. The "horse's back" rounded. Roundness and connection come from the back forward, not front to back.

Years later, Trainer Cathi put her riding students through "GO" exercises. Without throwing away the front end, we worked on getting our horses moving off our legs. Forward, forward, forward. Once our horses were working with cadence and pace, we initiated soft contact. Lo and behold, we began getting "beach ball" rides. Our horses rounded beneath us until it felt like we were sitting on beach balls -- while still energetically striding forward.

So I figured it wouldn't hurt to revisit "GO." Plus, alternating posting diagonals helps center me in the saddle. A chiropractic treatment would get me even more balanced in my seat bones!

Worked inside on Wednesday, but today we worked in our new outdoor arena. Lots of forward walk while chatting with Genevieve on Zorro, then trot, trot, trot. "Pay not attention to that traffic cone in the corner or the pigs on the other side of the manure pile!" Trot on!

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