Thursday, February 9, 2012

Simple Lead Changes

This has been a cold and tiring week.  Also Robin has been swamped at work.  When she is busy it makes me feel busier, too.  But I did manage to get out for a ride this afternoon even though I was still tired.  It was great, as no one else was there.

Also, the arena just got dragged and groomed.  It has a little too much sand in it, so the sand tends to really pile up along the edges and in the corners.  After a while it starts to feel small and cramped in there.  I was excited to try out the more consistent footing.

It did make things kind of deep everywhere, but spatially it felt better.  Particularly when we started loping.  We did a nice long warm up, and then I quietly pushed him into a lope.  He was really smooth and happy to hug the rail.  We made quite a few laps and I was particularly surprised at how much longer the straightaways felt.

After a few laps we were settling in and I remembered that I want to start working on simple lead changes.  So after coming around the next bend I kept Bear turning and guided him into the middle of the arena, brought him down to a trot, and then sent him off while cuing for a right lead.

I wish I could say we did it really nicely.  We can, afterall, get really smooth downward and upward transitions.  But when you add in the fact that I'm turning him, bringing him down, and then setting up for another lope, I wasn't quite able to do it how it appeared in my head.  Everything was slower and choppier, but we did ultimately get it.  We kept going and every lap and a half I'd guide him to the middle and ask for a lead change.  We got a really good one going off to the right and then I let him rest.

He was super tired.  I guess all the deep sand and transitions made things a little tough on him.  I gave him a while to recover (during which we had some not so great walking, trotting, and stopping) before doing another round of lead change work.  This time we started off to the right for a few laps before working into the changes.  Again, not as good as I would have hoped, but I think they got better a little bit faster.  They were certainly fun, but we've got a ton of work to do.  I think I remember Buck saying he does thousands of simple lead changes before even attempting a flying lead change.  Well, today we got maybe a dozen.

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