#1 and she knows it.
One night I decided I needed to be more consistent with asking for more energy. I did, and not surprisingly she consistently kept the energy up and had more quality work. Don't get me wrong, she gives me quality work, but the quality needs to take a step up as we progress with our dressage work. Second level requires a noticeable step up. She was more through in her canter was something else that I noticed. There was more jump to her canter, and her trot came more through as well. She is totally capable and willing, but, she needs me to be more of an active rider. Meaning if I ask for more energy and I feel one step with any less energy I need to fix that immediately.
One way I have found that works well for us is asking for more energy in our warm up. Usually we stroll around on a long rein, then we pick up some contact at the walk, then we do some long and low trot, pick up contact, do some lateral work then we get to real work. The warm up should still be a warm up, it shouldn't be hard work, but I can ask for a more engaged trot in the warm up. Same with the canter. That is what I have been doing and it has been successfully setting the tone for the entire ride, provided I hold up my end of the deal too, being consistently asking for that higher level of energy and riding it. I can't ask for a higher level energy and still ride it like I'm strolling around a warm up. I have no intention of slacking either, I just didn't realize I was doing it and now that I have, the difference is amazing.
It seems pretty simple, why should Klein have to up her game, but not me? Simple answer, she shouldn't. I totally appreciate that she gives me what I ask for, it continues to help me improve my riding. If I want a better trot, then I better ride a better trot. Here is an example from last night, check this trot out:
If I don't ride that trot, I'm not going to get it. By that I mean I can ask her for it, and she can give me a couple steps, but if I don't continue to ride that trot, I won't continue to get it. I can't put her in a gear and she just stays there beyond putting her in a trot/canter/gallop/etc... If I slack off she's like, well, you're slacking off, so I'm slacking off because that's the signal I'm getting from you.
There is a huge difference in Klein being on the aids too. If I already have her going at the appropriate level of energy she is basically locked and loaded for a movement like the one above. All it takes is the aid and she pushes right into it. It's an awesome feeling. This all seems like common sense, but I clearly needed an eye opening ride for me to realize I found a weakness.
I'm not sure where I fell in this accidental trap because you can't do that with jumping. If you slack off on something that's not a point and shoot school master, well, good luck. You have to ride to that fence, or you run the risk of your canter quality deteriorating, or if you have a particularly salty individual, a stop, which thankfully Klein isn't. She'll go over pretty much anything, but I still have to ride her to get the distance. If I let the energy slack, the distances start getting subpar.
Jumping earlier this week.
These jumps are small, you could probably get away with a little slacking on a lot of horses coming to stuff like this, but if you intend to jump higher, you better learn to actively ride (not interfere or micromanage, just be a present participant). Or if you have something green, you better have that level of participation so you can be a leader when you need to be with a young and/or green horse.
I have been using our new, improved warm ups for about a month now and they continue to work for us and open the door for better quality work. This is also going to make us even more prepared for our freestyle clinic next month.
A beautiful sunset last week after one of our rides.
Just an awesome pic from riding around under a full moon last week.