Emma came out for her second lesson with Mystic. We started getting her in time with Mystic’s feet at liberty on the ground. He was a bit distracted at first, but after a few walk – whoas and turns, he synced up with her and the two were moving as one. She mounted up and we focused on having Emma feel when Mystic was straight when she was in neutral, noticing when he started looking left or right and having her move the leg on the side he was looking forward just an inch to remind him to go straight. Within a lap of the arena, they were doing a lovely “neutral and straight” together. Now that they were moving in harmony together, we started focusing on turns, initiated by rotating Emma’s body in the direction of the turn, allowing the inside leg to slide back and open an inch, while the outside leg slid forward and prepared to “close that door” if necessary. Emma shortened the rein on the side she wanted him to go and pointed with it where she wanted him to go. Emma did the weave the cones and serpentine patterns, discovering that when her body language was working, she did not need reins to make those turns. We focused a little on balance at the trot – which was fine, and then balance at the canter – which still made Emma a little worried. I had Emma lean slightly forward during the trot – which felt wobbly, then slightly back – which felt unsafe, and finally, pulling her belly button in while keeping her body straight – which felt just right. Emma knows where her body needs to be in order to be balanced now, but it will take a while to make it an ingrained habit. We also practiced lots of walk to halt and trot to halt transitions. When Emma, inhaled, lifted one hand, while tilting her pelvis back, sighing and sitting deeply, Mystic stopped beautifully. When she forgot to sigh, forgot to lift one hand, forgot to tilt her pelvis back or didn’t sit deeply, Mystic would dribble to a halt. Again, she “knows” what to do, but it will take practice to ingrain the habit. We went out into the woods to practice some “point to point” aiming her focus – and, if needed, her legs at a distant tree – another version of the “neutral and straight” exercise we did in the arena. We also practiced doing turns around trees so Emma could learn that Mystic needs a good four feet of clearance in order to make a turn without running either himself or Emma’s knee into the tree! Lastly we had Emma do some canters up the hill in the woods and Emma discovered that going up hill, she was very comfortable cantering Mystic. I had Emma ride Mystic back into the paddock – which worked just fine. All in all, a lot of progress for a second lesson. Emma has now experienced riding with “feel” so she knows it is possible. It will require practice, however, for her to develop the habits necessary for it to become second nature to her.
Rewarding a canter in the woods
Riding Mystic solo