Sharon and I timed our arrival to within 3 minutes of each other - guess we have it down to a science now. We spent the first hour reviewing our show premiums for the Santa Rosa and Rancho Murieta shows while Todd was giving a lesson. When they were done Sharon and I turned Blu and Nazz out in the arena and free-lunged them. I was at one end and Sharon was at the other end of the arena and we let the boys get their P (sounds like Hiss) and V out running around. That was a change of pace from a regular lunge, and since I can't do that yet anyway, it worked out fine.
Today I graduated! I was able to get on Blu first, without Todd needing to work him. Yay!
I liked it too. I hadn't realized how much work Todd actually DOES during that warm up time. OK - well, truly I do realize it, but he makes it look so effortless. It was a great learning opportunity for me because Sharon and I had our lesson together which meant that we each had some time to ourselves without Todd's "eagle eye" on us. Which meant that I had to work out my own issues at times.
Like when I couldn't get Blu to jog. He would dive into the center of the arena any time I asked him to transition from the walk to the jog. Huh? I knew I was doing something that was causing it. Not sure how to explain, but he was definitely moving off my legs and hands, and I had to figure out what I was doing wrong. I thought back to a ride I'd had last summer. I needed to stop and 'reboot' Blu. Which was really stopping and 'rebooting' ME.
And it worked. I was able to get Blu to jog off nicely, multiple times. Though wouldn't you know, at that point Todd looked over and said I needed to collect Blu more. Sigh. But hey, I was happy I'd gotten him to jog. So I worked on collection next.
Then it was time to lope. Yay!
We had some very nice transitions. And some not so nice. But overall they were good. And best of all was when I mentioned to Todd that I'd been watching some of the live feed from the Scottsdale Arabian show this weekend and saw in the Junior Horse class they were having them lope off from the halt. Todd's response? Of course - they have to be able to lope off from any gate, including from a stand still.
It's been years since I've done a lope from a halt, and when I did, it was on Cre who knew our cues so well they were barely there. And they weren't 'proper' cues. I learned today.
So there we were. Blu and I. At a stand still. Todd had me collect Blu so that he was coiled super tightly. He had all four feet underneath him (I know, I know...but you know that visual of an Elephant when they're standing on a ball? It feels kinda like that.) and Todd told me to have him move forward. I thought he meant at a walk, which confused me, but I tried. Turns out that wasn't what he meant. Instead, after he was collected, I needed to let him LEAN forward and then when I released him he'd have no other place to go BUT the lope. It's all about the setup.
I had my 'ah-ha' moment.
So I collected Blu again (Elephant on a ball) and this time I urged him to lean forward and THEN I released him and he went IMMEDIATELY into a lope. First stride. It was AWESOME!
What a high note to end the lesson on!