Training day: Working on that Lengthen

working on our lengthen

Last weekend Arnie and I participated in the SPPHA NSW Training day at Suntori Park. The training day was with our super coach Kate Taylor-Wheat. It was a beautiful spring morning in Arcadia with a stunning backdrop behind the arena to match.

Arnie was excited with an extra little spring in his step, he seems to feed off new arenas, especially with mirrors at every corner. Personally, I think he just enjoys big fancy arenas and looking at himself!!

I’ve been super focused on our lengthening work, after a few of our last tests, this really hasn’t been ‘shown’. I really want to improve our marks with this work, as we really are lacking! With a horse that has a slightly more than average trot it really is all about controlling his body and compressing before and after the lengthening. Making that clear difference within the trot and transition.

Our Lesson

We went over a few exercises on the 20-meter circle, compressing his body, making the distance between his poll and tail slightly shorter. Never thinking backwards, but for him to think lift his front legs a little higher. After the first 10 minutes, he really had me working up a sweat! We worked through a few transitions into a forward lengthening trot and coming back again.

Thinking tuk, tuk at the girth to go forward. I have the worst habit (if you could call it a habit, it feels very unnatural!) in not moving my legs forward or back enough. Recently, I had a video of my ride a few weeks ago and I thought I was really moving my leg back, but on the video, I would have only moved it a few centimeters. I guess I can feel a little relieved that I have more control over my legs then I think I do! ?

Arniwho Training Day Standardbred 1

Working on our canter

We had a look at our canter, which I must admit in tests it can feel very big and up front. When I look back on photos or even some videos it doesn’t look ‘as bad’ as it feels. So, I was excited to work on our canter and work through things that I’m doing, and how I can help Arnie a little more.  It was super clear in our canter work to think slight shoulder-fore, soften on the inside rein. I have this huge desire that comes over me to let the inside rein just sit there, (perhaps have a cup of tea) and to let my outside rein do all the work.

Arniwho Training Day Canter

Much like our trot exercises, to think go forward, tuk, tuk at the girth. Boy, oh boy. Did this feel unnatural, putting my legs forward thinking ‘forward like you’re going to touch his shoulders’. No I didn’t touch his shoulders but did we get a super controlled lengthen canter! All about thinking of him coming through. Everything started falling into place.

It’s amazing on how much our bodies influences the horse. We also touched on our leg yielding, I have this horrible right shoulder that really, and I mean really, enjoys coming up and thinking it belongs somewhere around my ear! It’s always on my mind to put my shoulder down.

Sometimes after I ride, I have this niggling pain in my shoulder. I think to myself, what on earth have I done now. Oh yes, that’s right, putting my shoulder down to where it’s supposed to be… next to my other one! Kate told me something that made complete sense. ‘Just think to yourself, is the distance between your ears and shoulders the same?’.

So, naturally with my wandering shoulder, my body turns the opposite direction. It was extremely helpful thinking in the leg yield to have my shoulders pointing the opposite direction we are travelling. This helps Arnie to stay straighter in the shoulders instead of falling into the direction of the leg yield.

Arniwho Leg Yield

Overall, I was so proud of our achievements in our lesson- like I always am. I’m feeling confident for our comp this weekend, it is unofficial to give me the confidence in our work before stepping up to official again. But we are starting to feel great and slowly turning a corner. If we can keep chipping away at our work and achieving our goals, who knows one day (before we get too old!) have an Elementary start! We are starting to get pretty darn confident in our counter canter.

Happy Riding ?