Today I had a lesson on Fred first. He warmed up ok but it was super busy in the indoor and Olli was schooling piaffe and passage with Barclay, which made Fred a little nervous. In the trot Olli wanted me to activate him more and bend him more in the corners. Going L this made him break to canter every time I put my leg on because he was still tight in the back (and possibly because of the RH issue he has). So after many mistakes, I went ahead on my own into canter to try to get him to relax in the back and let go a little. After canter he was able to bend left better and then push into that RH a bit more but still not reliably. We took a walk break and then Olli wanted me to do some sitting trot work. This horse has the most comfy trot to sit. He wanted me to really push him more with my leg and use my seat to infuse the swing into his back. We still had many of these mistakes where he would canter when I pressed him for more trot. Olli said, “You need to be like a detective with these horses. Find out what doesn’t work so well and work on it!” Definitely this guy doesn’t get understand how to bend through the body. For me, I would like the feeling of teaching him this first in a more “normal” trot before asking for his biggest, most impulsive trot and also for bend. But Olli wants both, and he kept saying, “come on! He needs to learn this now.” So we gave it our best shot.
The bend and activity got much better and then we did some more canter work. Same story in the canter – Olli doesn’t want me to just go with the nice canter that he has. He wants more jump, more activity behind, more into the outside rein. When this got better we then came back to trot and were able to keep the swing and push each direction. This horse has an awesome walk, so we just rode free walk at the start and the end, and Olli was very happy with that.
Next up was my buddy Four Seasons. Today Olli wanted him in the snaffle with a D ring double jointed snaffle. We warmed him up the same as yesterday, very low and trying to get him to go out. Very forward in canter to get his back loose. Then back to trot and a little more up but still out as much as possible.
After a short break I went back to trot work and tried to start out with some walk trot transitions that were quick and in front of me. I have to ride a few abrupt halts first to make him be a little more respectful of the half halt in walk. Then in collected trot a half halt over A, E, C and B but only for one to two steps and then out so that he doesn’t shorten too much. I got a better feeling for really using my leg forward at the girth today both in trot and canter to help lift his shoulders up and quicken him. When I reach too far back with my leg he is not as reactive and it takes me off my seat bones.
We did some half passes which were good, but I still feel like he is running away by the end of the diagonal. I rode some renvers when going R, which really helps with the stiff left side.
Then on to canter where he felt super in the contact right away. I just made him really jump and activate behind but gave strong enough half halts that he couldn’t lean on me. If I can keep my hands low, then I can keep him out more with the nose. I rode a working pirouette to the right that was easy. Olli wanted him not to climb too much in front when he gets into the pirouette, so he just wanted me to think of using my seat and a quick leg when I feel him get too slow, because then he will need to lift in front too much. He wants him in travers around the working pirouette to talk to the outside hind leg more. This is where I really felt the difference with my inside leg forward. If I used it too far back, then I pushed the haunches out. In order for me to bend him as much as Olli wants, without him over flexing, I need a supportive inner leg at the girth to make him grow taller on the inside.
We then rode a few changes, and I still get the feeling that Olli thinks I am over-aiding him with my leg, although I’m trying not to do much. We rode some threes that were better and straighter and then did the pirouettes to the L.
After another walk break we did some piaffe and passage. The passage is easier for me to figure out and keep seated and active. What’s amazing about Four Seasons is how small or big you can ride his passage. So as I approach the piaffe, I need to “smaller” the passage, as Olli says ;), and then just think of the rhythm with my seat and a very light but steady hand. If I throw him away too much in the hand, then I lose his back, and it will be hard to get out of the piaffe.
Some stretchy trot to end, and then I walked around the property with Leonie Richter. She is the YR leasing Salcido, the Sir Donnerhall gelding I liked so much in the beginning. She competed him at Verden in the developing horse PSG and got 68+. She and her identical twin sister are both top YRs in Germany. Her sister, Ellen, was there today for a lesson with her gorgeous Florestan gelding. They live about an hour away but come regularly to ride with Olli. Leonie comes now almost every day to ride Salcido. She said she will do the I 2 with him for the first time soon – very exciting!
Below is the (obviously) unedited video of my ride with Four Seasons on Monday. It’s a bit long, bug skip ahead to see first some canter pirouette work, then trot & piaffe & passage. The P & P were much better Tues and today, but oh well.