A note to all my fellow bloggers out there--I am really enjoying seeing all the Liebster awards get passed around! It's been fun learning about the non-horsey aspects of your lives.
Great lesson today! I got Midnight to go round consistently, which I had only done sporadically before--essentially, if he was looking weirdly at something or not paying attention, I'd bend him to the inside, get him to step under himself a bit, and get a little neck flexion. But today we worked almost entirely on the circle doing shoulder-fore as a way to set up nice transitions.
So in the clinic, the judge introduced me to shoulder-fore and I think I really misunderstood. I thought it was essentially getting the horse to step under himself with his inside hind (and thus had no idea why it was called shoulder-fore). She had me try shoulder-fore on the circle and I was just so unsure of what I was doing and whether I was doing it right that we did turns on the forehand instead to engage that inside hind.
But I think now I get it--shoulder-fore literally is just moving the shoulders to the inside while maintaining forward motion. The leg engagement stuff is a separate issue, but I thought that the one term covered both things. Getting him to engage that hind leg really helps with bend and getting him round, while the shoulder fore is more just to control his shoulders since he likes to pop the outside one occasionally. It is NOTHING compared to how the drafts will pop their shoulder though. My instructor was trying to tell me that I did a good job, and that Midnight is a big horse who's kind of hard to put together, and I was like...No. Compared to a draft, this is nowhere NEAR a big horse that is hard to put together! Her horse is a Percheron cross so she should know! Midnight is about 16hh (which I don't consider that tall) and he has a long back, but ask correctly and he's in rear wheel drive.
And now time for a big announcement...my barn is doing an informal summer combined test in July and I am planning on doing the 18"/ USDF Intro Test B division. At first I was thinking I would just do dressage...and maybe a jumper class...and then I decided, heck with it. I have my instructor's blessing as long as I get more miles jumping with Midnight. He loves to jump, but he's still pretty green to it. In fact, the first time we tried an oxer (okay, the second time--he stopped the first) he just LEAPED over and then took off rooting with some happy yipee bucks. I just laughed. They were very graceful, rhythmic bucks. My horse in high school did that all the time.
I still have yet to jump anything outside of the arena, but I think I'm going to ride outside this weekend and maybe do some of the small ground-pole-sized logs that are around.There was only so long I could have resisted, being at a super nice eventing facility. This will mark the most horse disciplines tried in one summer: reining, dressage, jumping and XC!
I have to say, I love that my barn hosts clinics and things like this because it gives me concrete goals to work toward. I'm eyeing Tack of the Day for XC vests on sale...maybe I should set up an Ebay search too :) Anyone ever tried buying a vest online?