Monday, January 23, 2012
in which Keegan rocks the Leslie Law clinic
Off I went to Florida for another weekend with forecasts of sunny weather and highs in the 80s. As winter was just making a serious bid in Philadelphia, this was a very good thing. Thursday, I had a stadium jumping lesson on Keegan that went very well. As usual, never mind that I have a green horse, what needed work was me. So, lots of work on keeping eyes up over fences and shoulders up around corners. Then on to a dressage lesson on Godsend that was a lot of fun. He has become quite the trained silly pony and we were able to do shoulder in, half pass, turn on the haunches and get some very nice compression/lengthen at both trot and canter. Then back to Maitland for the next culinary adventure, duck with plum sauce. Quite good, even though I am not the biggest fan of duck, this was nice because it was very lean and well cooked. Friday, after I worked all morning, I
tortured rode Finn and then had a dressage lesson on Keegan. He was a bit distracted when we went down to the front arena, but still good. Every time Godsend moved to a different position around the outside of the ring, Keegan cantered a bit faster, though would always come back when asked. We ended up cantering a fair bit and working on the halt a bit, which along with the canter transitions are where I feel the most work is needed at this point. That will no doubt change on a regular basis as green horses always manage to find new things to make you work on. I was also able to get to RDV on Friday evening and take a yoga class. Biggest fitness facility ever http://rdvsportsplex.com/florida-orlando-rdv-sportsplex-athletic-club, but nice staff, good yoga instructor and it will be a nice fitness opportunity when south.
Saturday, was the Leslie Law clinic stadium jumping day. Hilda and I had a slow start morning as I did a bit of work and then was treated to a quail egg breakfast sandwich (http://www.livestrong.com/article/337189-quail-egg-nutrition/). Then headed to Ashmore to pack up the trailer and load Keegan for the Leslie Law clinic. Keegan is getting very good at loading although he is still a bit unclear on the concept of standing on the trailer once loaded, so it helps to have assistance to put up the bar behind him (we took the two horse trailer). Off we went, with me hoping for no repeat of trailer issues from last week as a) I was driving and b) Keegan and I were alone, but all was uneventful. We arrived at Rocking Horse and I was able to put Keegan into a stall next to the lovely Ned Divine, who had just finished the training group at the clinic. I went up and watched a bit of the novice group to let Keegan settle in. Leslie was working with all the riders and horses on the canter. There were jumps, but the idea was that if you could get the right balanced canter, your distance would appear far away and then you could just canter down with nothing changing - neither your horse's tempo nor your body position. Leslie pointed out that he rides a bit more forward than many and advocated a position with the hip over the heel, and the shoulder slightly forward of that, but for small fences over the toe and no further forward than the knee. Once that position (and the canter) are established, the focus is on being still, "sponging" the rein/s a bit if needed for keeping rhythm or line and landing in the the same canter, using the corner as needed to balance, repeat. After watching for a bit, I tacked Keegan, and prepared to lunge him, but given that I had to chase after him smacking him with my bat (hadn't brought a lunge whip) to keep him moving, decided it wasn't necessary and got on and walked and trotted him around a bit. He remained quiet, although very alert. He had lost a shoe earlier that morning, but seemed sound, and the ring at Rocking Horse is lovely, so off we went. Leslie had us trot and canter to warmup and Keegan was very good trotting and cantering with 4 other horses in the ring. It was a big ring, but I was still pleased. Keegan was quite enamored of the motorcycles on SR-19. He wasn't spooky about them, but rather kept staring at them as if trying to figure out if they were friendly and whether joining their "herd" was an option. When it came to the jumping, Keegan was a star. Leslie reminded me to keep my eyes up and my shoulders up (gee, where have I heard that before - or more appropriately is there anywhere I haven't heard that), but Keegan's pace was great, he went straight to the fences, he jumped, I followed, all was good. After a few trips over a vertical with placing poles front and back and a couple jumps over a single gate, next was the line. Vertical, three strides to liverpool, two strides to oxer. Leslie has a nice technique for showing the greenies the fence. You walk up and "chivvy" them a little toward the fence with leg or stick, but hold them from jumping. When Keegan went down the line, he jumped the liverpool as if it were the 100th liverpool he had jumped not the first and only one of the horses had an issue and that particular horse had a pretty significant "go right instead of over" issue not limited to the liverpool. The picture was taken by Cyndi Kurth who came to audit and was kind enough to take and share pictures.