What's next?

 The last week has been pretty quiet, filled with nights spent with friends, going to bed early, living in an exceptionally clean house and other perks of giving my horse time off. Guinness finally went back into work on Saturday afternoon, despite a ridiculous heat wave threatening to flatten us with oppressive humidity and temperatures in the upper 90's.

The work we've come back to is much different than the work we left. The basics are the same. We're still walking and trotting and cantering. We're still finessing contact, and working on moving smartly off the leg. What's changed is the intensity. You see, I've pretty much decided that our show season is over for the year. Finances being what they are, I'm not able to do another recognized show this year. That's okay. I know that I'm capable of easily getting the other First Level score I need for my Bronze next year. So, my focus has shifted from improving my scores at First to truly beginning my work on Second Level.

Whew, that's pretty exciting to write. Of course, all the work at Second is really built on a base of good First Level work. So now, we're working steadily on gaining the confidence to push for more. Part of focusing on getting good scores was not pushing too hard, for fear of disturbing the good work. Now, I'm not afraid to push for a greater degree of responsiveness to my half halts, or my leg. I have the time to finesse everything later.

With a lesson with Nancy on the horizon (Sunday afternoon) which will help guide my progress, I've been focusing on improving Guinness' reaction time and lightening him in my hand. He's developed a comfort level in my hand that is allowing him to fall on his forehand, making half halts (or even true halts) nearly impossible. This is a difficult task, as I don't want to alienate Guinness' confidence in my hands but I do want to encourage him to come up from the base of his neck and take more weight behind without leaning on my hands for support. We've been doing this by warming up very forward, and establishing a confident contact. At the walk, we do a lot of voltes to ensure Guinness is on both reins evenly and stepping off my inside leg. This also helps me warm up my own hips and legs and make sure I'm using them effectively. Finally, we do some leg yielding work, as a more advanced use of the leg/rein control and to supple him more. Then, we move on to transitioning between the walk and trot, working trot and lengthen, working trot and slower trot, slower trot and mini collection. Finally, we do some canter transitions too. We'll mini collection into the canter. We'll walk into the canter. We'll canter into the walk. We'll canter into a lengthen into a slow canter into mini collection and try to just step right into the walk.

All of this work is pretty demanding on the the half halts, and is making Guinness really work off his hind end. It's also making me really work on my balance, and on setting him up properly for each transition. We're starting to think quicker, and fall less and less into the forehand hanging comfort zone of yesterday.

Let's hope it stays that way.

Collection and transition work really makes those butt muscles sweat!


  1. Great work, I've no doubt it will stand to you. What exciting news that you are now gung-ho for second level, you guys are going to rock it. A winter of schooling & finessing with Nancy will work wonders. :D
    I moved my girls back to the yard last night, we're making our returns to arena work today or tomorrow (yay for the day off), i can't wait to see what we have to play with!

    1. How exciting to get back to work! I hope they're all raring to go!


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