I was right on all accounts.
We started with working the dressage ring and understanding the mechanism behind "riding the corners". It became very obvious that if you don't ride deep in the corners, with bend, that you will not be in position to execute a move at M, H, K or F. This becomes really important when you are riding in a 40m ring. The numbers come up fast. Ashke was being very good yesterday, giving me nice contact and flexing at the poll. He seems to have figured out that some dressage is part and parcel of his riding experience and I am very good at verbally rewarding him in the middle of a movement. We also take lots of breaks when we practice. He does not get claustrophobic any more and I am no longer pulling to frame him.
KL, the barn owner, commented on how good Ashke looked and asked what I had been doing to get him moving that way. I thought about it and answered "we've just been practicing", which is true, but we have also been working on flexing at the poll on trail and we always incorporate some lateral movements, even if it's simply changing bend in his way of moving while trotting down a straight trail. It's made him more flexible and more responsive. It's also increased my sensitivity and feel. It is a great way to train, because he doesn't get bored and I don't feel the need to drill.
Next we worked on geometry and using the numbers to help set up a 20m circle. CS gave me a great tip when she told me to roll my inside hand so the fingernails were up when we were going around the circle. Some how, that simple movement turns the rein and opens up the elbow, which has the effect of tipping the horse's nose into the inside. I could feel an immediate change in how he was moving. It opened up his inside shoulder and he stopped falling in on the inside. (I also must be riding straighter, since no one commented and told me to lift my left shoulder. Yippee!!!)
After geometry, we took turns riding a test (Western Dressage Basic Test 1) and those of us who were interested rode the WE Novice test afterwards. I got off Ashke and waited on the ground.
Ashke is very curious and interacts with the people around him.
Like a lot.
And it gets worse as he gets bored.
He was trying to bit my boot. And making me laugh. A lot.
Standing in front of the speaker, feeling the vibrations run through his body.
Waiting for our turn.
Not a bad test, although he didn't spook at the far end of the arena when we rode the Western Dressage test (bracing and throwing his head up - he went sideways). I think the cows were coming in and startled him.
My homework is to work on the trot-canter transitions and to get him to step up to the canter in a stride. Tough stuff for us, but we have already made strides on Monday night. Hopefully, if he continues to progress and we continue to practice, we will have a good ride at the show at the end of the month.