Yesterday, I rode Z in the arena for a long time. I was surprised to stay interested that long, but we were doing good things! I wanted to spend some time practicing our canter depart and also our transition down with little to no reins. I watched the Savvy Club DVD of April 2008 where Linda gives a lesson on collection and teaching a horse to use it's back and I wanted to try some of her techniques and see how Z responded.
We started with snaky bends, more along the lines of how Josh Lyons teaches them. Z was pretty energetic and that exercise was very useful. Then we started to ride the rail and work on transitions. I didn't feel like we were getting together very well, so I decided to change the game. I asked her to walk then back up, then walk and back up repeatedly. That was working much better and obviously where we needed to be. We practiced canter departs and staying on the rail. She really wants to leave the rail when we canter and I don't understand why. She was much better towards the end and I was trying to be very precise with my asks.
We practiced circles and going over cavalettis. In the circles, I gather the reins she gave me and tried to imagine holding her hand with the reins. I generally ride with a loose rein, so this was new to both of us. We were using the cradle bridle, which we havent' used in a while. There is definitely more feel in the cradle bridle and I have to be careful to have a light touch and soft hands even more than in the snaffle.
In the end, we looked better than when we started but we have a ways to go for finesse. Also, it seems using the wool pad under the theraflex is really working. Z's back looked great after this session.