Busy relaxing after an intense weekend here in Santa Rosa! All three horses were really super and worked Generally we worked on getting the horses more open in the body and better over the back so the haunches could come better under.
With Victor we specifically worked on getting his hind legs closer together (the inside hind leg stepping forward between the front legs) as he likes to get a little wide behind. On day 2 we started with trotting and cantering over poles, which were set on the circle points. I can really feel a good difference when he goes over the back, as the spacing works easily, whereas when he is a little more tight and blocked it doesn't go fluidly. Conrad also got on my case about his down transitions, which have always been difficult (trot-walk and canter-trot specifically), as Victor tends to block and try to quit. Generally he is better in the neck than last clinic, but he still wants to come too high and block in his back. By the end the piaffe/passage was very good, and he became much more active on his own. He also had me ride some half-steps on a 10m circle on day 2, specifically so I could ride him a little more from inside towards outside to help close his hind legs. We also went to the one-times again today, but unfortunately they didn't work very well. He did have me ride the two times, then ride a few one-times at the end which seemed to help some. Otherwise they still need a lot of work.
Majek started also with the canter poles on day 2, but he tends to want to get too running and wild through them, so it helps to ride only a couple after a turn on the forehand in the walk to a canter depart. That keeps him more civilized through the poles. Again we worked on getting the neck really rounded, and getting him flowing better over the back. On day 3 we started with trot poles, and again riding a turn on the forehand beforehand helped to get him flowing better over the back and less stiff through the poles.
He wanted me to tap him with the whip on the shoulder, especially the left shoulder in both trot and canter, which helped to get him more up and in front of me. It also carried into the half-steps, and he had me ride him in trot yielding from the quarterline to haunches in left at the rail and then half-steps (he blocks on the left hind leg at times, and that helped to keep it stepping forward in rhythm).
Also we worked some on the one-times, Sunday he even had me doing them on a 20m circle (again to the left). It was actually a little easier to do them on the circle than on the straight line for some reason. They work generally pretty well with Majek, but he has been wanting to drift a little to the left with the haunches and then mistakes creep in.
He wanted to see the changes with Bolero, which I had just barely started a few months ago. Of course they worked perfectly the first time I tried them, beautiful straight clean and quiet, so we left them alone and worked instead on getting the canter shorter and more organized. We started with walk-canter-walk transitions and some reinbacks as well, then we went to the counter canter with medium canter on the long side. To improve the straightness on the right lead he had me ride shoulder fore, which worked best when I flexed him a little to the left.
The warming up with Bolero consisted of big forward riding, "brisk forwards" which helped his overall activity. He also had me ride over some walk cavalettis in between to improve the activity in the walk (he tends to be rather lazy in the walk). On day 2 we worked on getting him a little more on the haunches with quick trot-walk-trot transitions and reinbacks. He also had me give him a well-timed kick with the left leg on the inside to help the activity of the left hind leg, which has recently been his slower hind leg. We also did some simple changes through the center of the circle, and finished with the flying changes again on day 3. They didn't work through the center of the circle, but when I set them up like I do normally (on the short diagonal), again they worked beautifully. When the canter is well-balanced they are surprisingly easy.
This is a very technical blog post, as I'm trying to record as much of the information and exercises as I can. Luckily, thanks to Lana, we got some of it on video! Tomorrow on to Del Mar!!