My mother FINALLY remembered to share your blog with me, so that I could respond. I swear she’d forget her head if it wasn’t securely attached to her body…it is probably a good thing she wears a helmet because if she clunked that noggin of hers, she’d probably forget to bring apples to the barn. Come to think of it, she didn’t bring any for the past week. Sheesh! How is a fellow supposed to do his best work when he is malnourished? But I digress.
Carter, it is probably a good thing that your mother has been patient in waiting for your First Level debut. I have no doubt that you are ready for the harder work, but if your mom is anything like mine, she is probably a bit spastic with her aids at times. Try and do what you can to postpone your first show until you think she has refined her skills a bit more. The judge’s expect a lot more from us and them at First Level – no more cruising around on autopilot. My mom rushed us to test 3; she got her geometry wrong and didn’t fully understand how to properly ride the canter loop and bobbled on her centerlines. Needless to say, we are now back home taking 2 lessons a week so she can benefit from Ms. C’s wisdom.
And let me tell you, those First Level tests are so much harder. There is the “lengthening” at the trot and canter. It sounds like you figured out that they want more push from behind – just don’t let mom let you flatten out. The judge’s don’t like it when you do, so they give you lower scores. That might be why they put that fancy bridle on you. I hear around the show grounds that people use that when their horses need to be “picked up.” I haven’t seen anyone actually trying to pick up their horse, but I have seen many people that need to be nicer to their horses rather than keeping an overly tight grasp on all those reins. Ms. C mentioned that I will have to wear one of those some day, but I will have to remember what you did so that I can go back to my current bridle with only one of those metal things that go in your mouth.
The tests also have movements that make you go sideways. I like going sideways. Make sure your mom keeps your body properly aligned – it makes the sideways stuff much, much easier. It is her job to set you up correctly. I have to remind my mom of that fact all the time. Ms. C has to remind her too.
My mom is finally catching on about riding a counter canter. After our less than dubious test 3 debut, Ms. C really had to impress on mom how to properly align my body for counter canter. We actually worked on shoulder in, haunches in, and then trot half pass to impress on mom the ideal alignment for my body for the canter loop and also how to position her legs and seat to maintain that positon. If you feel your mom fidgeting up there, try throwing in a flying lead change. It is a great way to remind her to SIT STILL and keep her legs and weight in the right place.
Good luck at your next show! Your HJU buddy will be rooting for you.