Yesterday and today I rode both boys with Leslie. We're starting to gear up for the shows (Lana and I drive over to the show grounds tomorrow AM) so we looked at some elements out of the tests. Leslie has a great way of being very quiet, and seemingly low-pressure, yet having very high standards for reaction and execution and not letting you fudge ANYTHING. Particularly today we pushed on both horses much harder, and I really appreciated how she approached Majek's issues (as Majek can have meltdowns if you don't have the right approach, whereas Victor tolerates it much better).
He wants me to warm Majek up low in the neck and do some transitions within the trot to get him better in the contact. She also has me intersperse shoulder-in and haunches-in (also haunches-in on the diagonal, with increase in tempo in the trot) for my warm up, to really work on his bending and suppleness.
We also worked to get the left lead canter better in the back and more through from behind, as he tends to want to "stand on his toes" when I try to make him shorter. So we did some transitions from a slower, pirouette canter forward without creating more speed. I had to think to ride his hind legs bigger as I went forward, not just let him speed up and dump on his forehand. Then we carried that into the half-passes. From there we looked at the canter zig-zag from the Intermediare B and dealt with a bending issue on the right half-pass. If he didn't bend in the right half-pass, she wanted me to ride straight forward in shoulder-in right and bend him quite a lot. Then he wanted to either back off or throw his haunches right, so I had to fix that. It took several repetitions but that half-pass felt much better after we got it sorted out.
I also wanted to look at the trot half-pass to walk to half-steps sequence out of the Intermediare B. She wanted more power in the trot work generally, and had me really push the extensions ("ride a full-blown extension...that's not an extension, he's just floating and his hind legs aren't even reaching under his belly...more than that!! More!! Even if he takes a funny step!"). I felt the difference between a 6 or maybe a 7 and an 8 today. :) He was so much better in the contact and over the back today, so I could really push it and I didn't have the rhythm bobbles that I sommetimes have
The half-steps were good, he travels too much forward but the rhythm was actually pretty good. As a exercise she had me do some trot-halt-trot transitions, thinking half-steps into the halt so he stays thinking forward with his hind legs into the halt. It got a little dicey when he started to quit, and she wanted me to get after him (I felt him think about his usual melt-down), but he went kept trying.
With Victor she wants me to start with a flatter, quicker trot with a low neck for his warm-up. We also did some of the shoulder-in and haunches-in in the warm-up, and she wanted me to start dealing with the left bending issue that I have in the canter half-passes, because it is a more general bending issue. She had me do an interested exercise riding forward and back in the trot, but much rounder than I normally do and going back towards a "jog trot" which is like half-steps only more forward. Also she wanted me to keep more contact during the half-steps and supple him a little within it (Victor likes to come backwards from the contact and then quit if you try to make any corrections with the reins). After a few repetitions of that exercise he felt much more adjustable in the trot.
We carried that into some of the piaffe/passage sequences from the Grand Prix test, and they were much improved because his ridability was much improved. We also touched on the GP zig-zag again (which we'd worked on quite a bit yesterday, owing to the difficult left bending problem) and it was MUCH improved. For the test she recommended that I ride the right half-pass a little less sideways, since that evens it out with the left side (where he doesn't tend to move sideways very easily). Also I have to be careful to ride it a little more collected, not too fast.
Today Lana and I met Barb and Betsy and their two horses at the show grounds. They had a very smooth trip down from Boise over the last couple days and were relieved to have finally arrived (boy do I know that feeling!!). We found their stalls and helped them unload. I'll take my boys over to San Juan tomorrow late morning after I get Majek's shoe fixed (looks like he slightly sprung it today). Thankfully Victor's hives looked like they resolved (I gave him Dex Monday and Tuesday to make sure) as he looked totally normal today. The show looks to be big and well-attended by the big So Cal riders. Looking forward to it!!!