After the County Fair Open Show, Husky decided he was done moving properly. He was okay at the walk, listening to my legs, bending and with a nice soft head. But as soon as I even thought about trotting, his head shot straight up and his back hollowed out. He was taking very short, choppy strides and was not driving from the hind.
On Wednesday, we worked on lengthening. We went over canter poles and did some small jumps that required him to stretch and lengthen. I like doing canter poles because it’s such a neat rhythm and feeling. You can feel the horse rock back on his haunches and lengthen out. As we go over them, I always think, “over, over over,” in rhythm. This did seem to help a bit with Husky’s impulsion. We also worked on simple lead changes. To do this, I make a figure-8 and come down to a couple of trot strides in the center and then switching leads. Husky is really getting the hang of this exercise and almost always switches his leads promptly.
By the end of the ride, we went over a line of three with one stride in the middle, switched leads over the third and continued to the left, then went over a line of canter poles with a small jump in the middle. He kept his left lead as we went over, then turned to the right – and Husky switched his lead with a flying change! We ended on that positive note.
Today, we had a team ride and Husky was still very short and hollow. We did a lot of very tight serpentines at the walk and trot, both directions. It helped so much! During the serpentines, I focused on finding the inside hind leg and asking him to step up and under his belly more. This is a simple exercise that helps a lot with balance, collection and impulsion. After only a few repetitions of the exercise, Husky was freer in the hind, was much lighter on the forehand, and was long and low with his head. He was consistent, soft and much more relaxed. I was very happy! We ended the ride with a short course that went pretty well, although he wasn’t wanting to pick up his right lead…but at the end he did a flying lead change to the right lead again, just like on Wednesday. He’s getting the idea of leads, but it’ll take some more work.