Had a great ride last Tuesday with Koda. A heat wave has come through up here making temperatures hit 35 Celsius (about 90 F), so I wasn't out doing anything on Sunday, and was playing softball on Monday. Luckily by Tuesday the heat was slowly breaking, so I went out to ride. Koda is starting to show his CHUBBY side! My goodness he is so fat, it's absolutely horrible. We've also moved on from mosquitoes (yay!) to gnats or no-seeums. They love to cluster around ears, eyes, heads, etc. and are an absolutely pain. Koda will soon be wearing his "war paint" (pink swat) all over his head. But, forget the flies, on to the riding!
I rode again in the front pasture and it was like I was riding a different horse from last time we rode there. Last time, Koda trotted out on his own accord for a solid 5-10 minutes to chill out before he would listen to my aids without adding more tension. Tonight, he was as quiet and relax as can be. He still of course tried to bow towards the horses in the corral, but there was barely any tension in him. He stepped out for me, gave me some lengthening (need to pull the poles out to exaggerate that), and our lateral work was absolutely lovely. When we went into the lateral work, he really got down to business for me and I couldn't have been happier.
The ride started out with some easy loose trot with some very short canters tossed in there. I cantered early in the ride as an experiment to see what he would be like after the fact. Last time he tensed up quite a bit and any leg aid ended up being "CANTER?!". This time, he really listened and I rode more with my body to slow the rhythm of the trot coming out of the canter to stay out of his face which I think he appreciated. I liked how he came back and got down to business as we went into some big loop serpentines.
Once he was tracking nicely in the serpentines, I went into smaller serpentines with circles, really asking him to bend and use himself. My goodness are we both EVER so stiff to the left. I have the habit of dropping my left shoulder and collapsing down on my left hip, so he can easily fall in on the circle snice my left leg isn't supported by my torso at all like that. I'm so lucky that we have a really good yoga instructor up here who has helped me work on staying even and straight and tall. As Koda and I were doing our circles, I kept thinking what she taught us "lengthen your side bodies, lengthen your side bodies" to keep myself tall and even.
After serpentines we went into the lateral work and it was really just me playing with the idea of where can I put Koda's hooves and how accurate can I be. I wanted it to be a bit of a challenge for me (and trusting Koda too), so I rode with no stirrups. Our shoulder-ins were great, leg yields were fantastic but I do need to watch in those that I don't collapse my upper body either. We ended on practicing our halts for the end of dressage tests, so going from trot-walk-halt. The halts weren't that great when I was trying to get a stride or two of walk, so went to just doing trot-halt and they ended up being much more balanced and square. I think it was because I was keeping my leg on through the transition that keep Koda balanced into the halt.
Once all was done with the riding, we had a very relaxing time just chilling by the trailer, Koda being brushed, me enjoy grooming him. It's really kind of cool to see how we're starting to figure each other out, and to trust each other in things. I think Koda is learning about his new job and isn't too opposed to it, and I'm learning how he likes to be ridden best.
I can't wait for the next steps on our journey together :)