Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Changes of Bend

Riding changes of bend, such as when making serpentines, have proven challenging. To improve our changes of bend, Karen gave us an exercise of a four loop serpentine of ten meter turns, from quarterline to quarterline. We started in trot on our sticky side, the right rein. Much before crossing the centerline, begin stepping your weight into the new direction of bend (the left stirrup in this example), half halting then leg yielding away from the new inside (left) leg, and only then changing the bend. For Delphi the half halt is important and should be very firm, almost a full halt, so that she stays obedient. You're riding the horse's body and being aware of how it's carrying itself rather than fidgeting with the neck and reins in a false attempt to change the bend in the neck only. Before you again cross the next centerline, begin "jumping" down on the new inside (right) leg (which correctly places the weight aid for the new bend), half halt and leg yield away from the new inside (right) leg, then change the bend. This keeps the horse supple, forward, and changes the bend through the body rather than attempting to change it through the neck only.
We also worked on moving the haunches in, then bringing the horse's haunches out again to align the haunches with the shoulders, while in walk or trot along the rail. The key is keeping the neck relatively straight; there is a slight bend to the outside when initially moving the haunches in, but when returning the haunches out to match the shoulders, the neck should really stay straight rather than over bending to the inside.
And of course, no lesson is complete without the ol' canter transitions. We worked on walk to canter today; both directions were very obedient on Delphi's part, which is good. However we're still working on roundness through the transition, and becoming more uphill once in canter. It's definitely a work in progress.