Bonus lesson this week. I wanted to see if I could work some more on the progress I made Wednesday, and since it's supposed to be over a 100' here again for the next while, I checked to see if Eric still had an hour free. Lucky me, he did.
Unfortunately, his opening was at 1 PM, so it was already pretty warm. Buddy was calm and almost sleepy in the crossties, and I was sweaty and hot by the time I had him brushed and tacked up. Eric elected to perch on the fence rather than riding, so I had the arena to myself.
With almost no air moving, we took plenty of time for warm-up. In addition to the usual, Eric had me ask for an exaggerated inside bend in both directions, encouraging Buddy to stretch along his back, stepping under and getting his hip underneath him, moving his shoulder in so he was almost turning on the forehand but still moving forward in a circle.
Once he was bending and giving softly, I widened the circle, still keeping him off the rail but asking him to stay collected and really round his back up. The slow, suspended walk they're asked to do for the show ring still seems slow and over-controlled to me. But we're starting to get it.
Moving on to trot, I concentrated on keeping the ball of my foot in the stirrup, really stretching down into my heels and keeping my hips rolled down. Watching the video that my mom took while she was here, I have a tendency to over-post, so I've been trying to just let Buddy's momentum give me a boost, instead of pushing up myself. And then there's keeping my shoulders back and my ribcage and chin up... Hopefully all of this stuff will eventually become automatic!
Cantering left went okay, although Wednesday's ride was better. It's my roughest gait. When I roll my heels up to ask Buddy to lift his barrel, I can't keep the ball of my foot pressed down and my stirrup ends up sliding back too far. Then, when Eric has me hand gallop in two-point, I end up tipped too far forward and balancing on his neck. It's better when I have tall boots or half-chaps on, because I get better grip with my calves.
So... I asked how to fix it. Apparently, the answer is more practice. And more stretching. I'm to spend some time every day on the stairs stretching out my hamstrings.
We didn't spend as long going right - Buddy was getting tired and hot, and the heat was getting to me, too. I walked him for quite a while, and he was still blowing and sweaty - there was just no air moving to help him cool off. Back in the barn, I pulled his tack and wraps, took him back to his stall to pee - which he doesn't like to do in the cross-ties, and who can blame him! - and then rinsed him off in cool, but not cold, water until he was cooled down. His stall has a fan, and he was more interested in cleaning up his hay when I turned him loose than his bucket, but when I checked on him a bit later his bucket was lower and he was dozing peacefully in his own personal breeze.
I hung out for a while, helping C hang some additional fans and chatting, then headed for the farm to get the boys checked on and fly-sprayed. They were dozing in the shade of the grain bin, content to greet me and be petted. I talked to Eric about working Sunny in the arena this week, but if it gets as warm as they're predicting, I'll give it a miss.