Time to take a breather from showing and spend some time just training and riding. Well, yes, there are shows around in September, but they are either way too far away for a schooling show or they just don’t work with my schedule. We will take this time to study our scores and try to finesse my skills to earn that extra 0.5 or 1.0 keeping us from crossing the 70th percentile at Training Level. If all goes well, we will head back out in October ready, willing, and able to Wow the judges with our improved skill set.
Improvement will only come when Ike matures and strengthens AND the rider becomes more effective at timing her aids and remembering to half halt/half halt/half halt. It always seems to come back to the effective half halt. I found a post on Facebook that said, “If at first you don’t succeed…try doing what your TRAINER told you to do the first time.”
And can you guess what Ms. C (my trainer) tells me to do more than anything else? You guessed it, the half halt. We are getting ready for a circle, slight half halt to get Ike’s attention, another half halt a step before the letter and I attempt to squeeze the fingers on the inside hand just a bit more, now step in the direction of the circle, and “you were too late with your half halt!!!” What? Sigh. So, again, Ike cannot be blamed for not properly bending as we feed off onto that circle. His rider seems to be a day late and a dollar short on a regular basis.
Ms. C tells me that learning the timing of the aids is a process. It comes with practice, practice and more practice. You can be told when to do it and read every book on when to give the half halt, but you only become proficient in the timing with riding and repetition. The true test comes when you try to do it without your trainer shouting what aids you should be giving. It is obvious that I still have some practicing to do. Can I put some of the blame on Ike since he is still learning? That would be a cop-out on my part, so I shall not do that to my boy. He is such a good sport and except for those rare occasions when he is testing the waters, he really does try to understand what I am asking.
Tomorrow afternoon is my weekly lesson and in the back of my mind will be the words, “Half halt.”