Sunday, July 13, 2014

Slow & Steady Progress

Well, it seems (knock on wood) that Bastian is back to living up to his Luck Dragon legacy. Things are definitely on the upswing for us. In the past month we've managed to get the majority of his strength back and with all of his parts and pieces feeling 100% he has been giving it 150% in his workouts and all of our hard work is starting to pay off.

We had fun playing hunter horse at the Up & Over show at the Buckeye Horse Park in June, where Bastian strutted his Thoroughbred stuff and earned the Champion Ribbon for the Thoroughbred Not to Jump Division. Since then we've honed in on our weaknesses within the tests and on our basic weaknesses and just schooled, schooled, schooled.

Our biggest 'basic' weakness is straightness. Tawny has me focusing on keeping his shoulders and hips aligned and keeping the correct bend in the rib cage every step of the way and it has truly started to pay off. I am actually feel when he's out of alignment now-not something I could really do before, but all this work has started to make me much more aware of it. So everything we do has to be done straight. Bastian has started to pick up on it to and he has slowly started to correct himself, it's more difficult so if I'm not on the ball then it's usually his left hips that come 'in.'

Our weaknesses in the test are the mediums, extensions and the walk pirouettes. We are making solid progress on our mediums however and we'll just pretend that we're making progress on our I think that particular movement is just difficult for him physically, his stride is naturally a bit more huntery-daisy-cuttery than dressagey, so taking bigger strides and reaching through his shoulders has been a challenge for him. On Friday when I rode, every medium we did felt amazing! I have no idea what they looked like, but he was rocked back on his hocks, he kept his poll steady, he was lifting his shoulder and he was straight. Again, I've gotta give Tawny most of the credit on this one as she has been super focused on that area since I put him back into training with her. Here is a lovely picture of him working to 'extend' those lovely front legs!

Our walk pirouettes on the other hand, well, they aren't small circles anymore! I'm hoping that instead of the 5's I scored before that I can at least bump those up to a 6s. Bit by bit we're getting better and he's been trying his little dragony heart out, making every ride fantastic. In August we're headed to the WPDA Summer Sizzler where we'll be riding our Grade IV Team and Individual tests. I'm excited to see the progress we've made since last year when we scored a 59%.....

Also on the Schedule is a trip to New Alexandra, PA where Bastian and I have signed up to ride in a Symposium with Debbie Rodriguez. I'm totally stoked about going! So although we really aren't competing this year, we are making a ton of educational progress so that we do finally make it to some shows in 2015 we are gonna be ready to rock it.

Finally, an interesting story about Bastian's Neue Schule Bit. I switched him to the Tranz Training Lozenge a few months ago and had noticed a difference in the feel of his mouth. He was softer and there was less movement through his poll, and well he's always been slobbery so not really a big change there. For the hunter show, wanting to 'fit in' aesthetically, I switched to one of my old bits for Bastian, a straightforward French link D-Ring. He was not a happy camper when we schooled in it for 30 minutes, he just wouldn't soften and kept bracing against it. So, long story short, I decided to forego 'fitting in' and switched back to our Neue Schule bit for the rest of the show. In the past I had always switched out bits without there being a noticeable difference in his acceptance of what bit I used. Bastian has become quite communicative in this past year and I tell you what, the more I learn the language the more we continue to improve. If you've been on the fence about trying out a new bit for you horse, I highly recommend the Neue Schule line, they are fantastic. There aren't many North American retailers, but Hastilow Competition Saddlery carries the full line, click here to check them out!

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