River and I are moving to Florida so we can ride with Jeff all the time.
Saturday--The really exciting thing was he only had to follow us with a longe whip for half the ride! Yay!!! We sorta kinda have some forward, even if it doesn't last too long. He needed the longe whip for all of Sunday, though..
The biggest thing I got out of it was to stop treating him like a delicate flower who will break. I've been very very light with the contact, and if he stiffens at all or puts his head up, I think "oh, poor baby, I'm being to hard on him, I need to have even lighter contact!"
No. I'm no longer afraid to take solid contact. If he ignores me, a strong vibrating tug. Voila, it works!
We worked a lot on counterflexion and true flexion, getting him to soften to both sides of the bit. Turning with the outside leg. Keeping my position correct--it's amazing what a difference that makes. To the right, I felt like I was constantly getting pushed off balance and I was fighting to stay balanced AND ride. Once Jeff reminded me to keep my inside leg right at the girth and the outside leg a little back, it was much more comfortable and easy to stay in the middle. We did some leg yielding head to the wall... I'd thought about trying before the clinic, but didn't think Riv could really handle it. He was confused, but he did it! We did a lot of taking up contact for a bit, let him stretch for a bit, pick it up a bit, stretch a bit.
I rode last night and OMG he was so good! He was even going soft and round at the walk! And staying soft and round going from true flexion to counterflexion and back to true flexion!!
River was so darn good. The only kind of annoying thing is hearing "he's really good for a Thoroughbred" or "he's really well behaved for a Thoroughbred" or "he's so quiet for a Thoroughbred." Why do people find it surprising that a Thoroughbred is good, well-behaved, and quiet? You wouldn't say "you're really good at math for a girl", would you? But then, I am sort of a breed snob.... Thoroughbreds, Thoroughbreds, Thoroughbreds all the way. I don't know why we even need all those other breeds, Thoroughbreds can do everything and do it better than another breed.
Also, the barn got in a big load of second cutting hay, so the horses who need to gain some weight or are at a good weight but are hard to keep there are getting beautiful second cutting hay. Do I even need to explicitly state that my horses get the fancy new hay? Sunday was River's first time getting it because he stayed at the farm where the clinic was overnight. He had a big pile of fancy hay, and like half a flake of the regular first cutting hay leftover from Saturday in his stall. He sniffed at the first cutting hay, sniffed at the second cutting hay, and dove right in to the fancy new stuff. Yummy!!
Yesterday morning, my BO texted me this picture:
After I rode last night I checked him and The Mare to make sure they had plenty of hay... Princess had enough, but The Mare is a freaking hoover! She had maybe half a flake left, so she got a flake of first cutting. (4+ flakes of second cutting is plenty; if she eats it all, she gets first cutting so she has something to munch on.)
Also, I forgot to tell a kind of funny story from last week... River has decided he doesn't want to be a princess anymore:
Me: River Mountain Rd?
Planning on riding tonight and then pulling his shoes. Super-Awesome Farrier is coming next Thursday and I want to pull Riv's shoes for the winter. SAF prefers to pull shoes at the end of the cycle and leave the feet for a week or two before trimming, so the horse can adjust to being barefoot with a little extra foot while they transition.