March is one of those tricky months here. On one hand it really starts to feel like the gloom of winter is being left behind but then there are bitterly cold days too. Some days (or nights) the horses can have thinner rugs on and others they need all snuggling up. It can be bright sunshine and relatively warm and then the next day it rains and rains or the wind is biting! A couple of weeks ago the horses even had a few hours in the field without rugs, since then it has been really windy and has rained A LOT.
Riding wise I also feel progress is being made but I think that I need to push myself a bit more in April!
My March Aims for Basil were:
- Calmness, rhythm and suppleness in all paces - improving.
- Consistency of bend on left rein - improving but still not consistent.
- Halt transitions from trot - don't feel we are ready for this yet.
- Leg yield away from track - yeah.
- Trot to walk to trot exercise - definitely getting better!
- Trotting poles - good with these now.
- Jumping, single fence, increase height and work on canter rhythm up to and after - definitely improving rhythm.
- Turn on the forehand - pleased with first attempts.
- Lunge in bridle - still not done this - smack my hand!
- Pilates - oops, the month has gone by.
This is what March looked like:
3rd - today was a disaster, I was planning on schooling in the arena but about 2 minutes after we started there was the sound of a hunting horn and lots of dogs, Basil found this all too much and I knew from experience that nothing would be achieved. Some people will say I should have carried on but I know from experience that it would not have got any better and it may well have damaged my confidence!
4th - lunged for 10 minutes, Basil was a bit excited after yesterday but behaved fairly well. We stuck to walk and trot.
5th - hacked out, he was fairly good except that there are now pigs in a field close to the road on the route we did today and Basil is not sure about them. We will have to go past more often.
6th - schooled although it was a bit windy. Really pleased we achieved some great spirals in walk and leg yield away from the track. We got the leg yield straight away on the left rein (which makes sense as his leg yield to the track is better on the right) but he did get it both ways. So really pleased with that new achievement in walk. Tick! Also, we are getting better at our version of the walk - trot - walk exercise mentioned in my Schooling Motivation blog. Tick!
7th - hack, was still windy today but Basil was really good and we had a lovely time!
8th - lunged, again windy and quite gusty today. Basil was a bit spooky and would not go out on a big circle towards the hedge so we stuck to walk and trot as the circle was a bit small for canter.
10th - schooling session was great. We jumped out of a lovely balanced rhythmic canter which also carried on after the jumps .... progress. We are jumping a straight fence now. Tick!
11th - lunged today but Basil still won't go over to the hedge (he is fine when I am riding). He was a bit silly today, bucking and cantering when he was supposed to be walking.
12th - hack out and still windy (sick of it now) but again Basil was good.
14th - brilliant flat schooling session today. He was really good even though it is STILL windy! We managed our spirals in walk and trot today (larger in trot). Better on right rein as expected as Basil is more balanced on that rein generally. Again we did some leg yield away from track in walk which was better than last time on both reins and on the left rein we changed bend when we reached the 3/4 line and did leg yield back to the track! We got some lovely half circles in walk and some great halt transitions. In canter Basil had his back up a bit on the right rein but was fine on the left. Supple and balanced session today. Our left bend is improving but still not as consistent as the right. Basil seems to have a bit of a spaghetti neck!
16th - school today but I wasn't feeling very enthusiastic and so we achieved very little. Basil was very good in walk, trot and canter. We did try turn on the forehand today though and I was really pleased with Basil's attempts, we managed about a 1/4 turn properly before he thought it was a bit much - still really good first try. Tick!
19th - hack. This week is proving to be not great! Basil had a 'moment' at some new white lines on the road as he suddenly spun around and cantered towards home. After stopping and going on I could not get him to go past and we ended up reversing up the road. Leading never works with him! So after getting him to walk forward again (a small 'win' for me) we turned for home.
20th - lunged, good day, walk, trot, canter and some walk to halts. Still better on the right rein at these, I don't really understand why!
21st - hack out and past those nasty white lines! Hesitant but with a little encouragement he went past in a slightly 'OMG they are going to kill me' way. Good after that so we had a better day today.
22nd - schooling, this week has improved now.... although I was planning to put the jump up but changed my mind (it is sometimes difficult with no one to encourage you). Basil is definitely calmer after the jumps now, even when we meet them slightly wrong. He is happy to jump and doesn't think about stopping. I am getting better at keeping my leg on even if we are a bit speedy - that is thanks to my lessons!
24th - hack out. We went past the pigs again today, much better.
25th - schooling, flat today. I decided to concentrate on one thing - transitions. We practised walk to halt and walk to trot to walk to trot. Also, our canter to trot transitions. Our upward transitions are generally pretty good, Basil is very responsive to the leg. It is the downwards transitions that need work as in trot it can take half of a long side to come back to walk and in canter sometimes I have to do a whole extra 20m circle to come back to trot! I did feel that by the end our trot to walk transitions had improved, the canter to trot transitions were also better on the right rein but not on the left rein. I know Basil is better on the right rein generally and my right leg and right hand are stronger too - I think I really need to practice more on the left rein with my aids! We also tried a new exercise today which was cantering a circle at one end then cantering across the diagonal, coming back to trot to change the rein, then picking up canter again to do another circle. This was new to Basil and at first he wasn't sure as he thought we should still be on the circle but he did come back to trot before the track and picked up canter again well.
Weather has been absolutely horrible so we did not achieve much in the following few days...
30th - lunging, after several days off I decided this was a good first step, it was really windy. He was a bit silly, bucking and cantering about when he should have been walking. He could have been a lot worse thought!
My April Aims for Basil are:
- Calmness, rhythm and suppleness in all paces.
- Consistency of bend on left rein.
- Halt transitions from trot.
- Leg yield away from track, improve.
- Trot to walk to trot exercise, try shorter trot and walk sections.
- Canter to trot transitions - quicker response.
- Jumping, single fence, increase height and continue work on canter rhythm up to and after.
- Turn on the forehand - more practice.
- Lunge in bridle as I would like to introduce side reins soon.
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Until next time!