I rode Highland, a 6 year old stallion, lightly this morning. He is a super horse. He reminded me so much of Wilmington, a stallion I used to ride. I wish I could try again with Wilmington now, I think I could do a much better job! This guy was a little stalliony in the beginning, excited to pass all the others in the indoor. Olli was on Four Seasons, Jutta was on a young mare, Annkia was riding Sir Olli, the stallion, so it was busy in that little indoor. But he soon went to work and was very good for me. He has huge gaits and a little bit of a slow hind leg, a lot like Wilmington but an even bigger trot. Olli just wanted me to do a loosening day with a little forward and back in the canter.
I watched much of the morning, since Herr Meyer zu Strohen was there all morning, and then at 12 I rode Salcido. Olli was still getting help on a stallion who had been trailered in for him to ride. I thought they were almost done when I brought Salcido in, but I should have learned by now that my idea of a heavy workout is their idea of a warmup. They worked the piss out of this horse, who was quite talented for piaffe and passage. I warmed Salcido up and then did some collection in the canter on my own. The first day Olli called him "a diesel" and I remember thinking, what?! He's so sensitive! But now I feel what he's talking about (or maybe now after three days of me, he's getting duller and duller!) I rode him with a whip today, but he really doesn't have a great reaction to that, and Olli wants me to get a quicker reaction from my leg and NOT the whip. We worked first on some pirouettes, and those felt fantastic! He wanted me to be able to come in and out in a smaller or bigger pirouette whenever I wanted, so that I was really in control of how quickly he turned. He also wanted me to ride the full pirouette on the diagonal line, and REALLY collect with him REALLY straight on that line before I turned. He said, "He will turn, no problem! The problem is making sure he's straight and in front of you in collection BEFORE you turn." Then he wanted me to ride out of the pirouette still in the collection before I rode out into a bigger canter, so that he doesn't leave the pirouette on his own or fall apart coming out of it. I did a super pirouette to the left, and then I was so happy when Olli said, "yeah, super! Give him a break!" That I rode a terrible change afterwards ("That was a shit change!" were his exact words) instead of doing a nice transition to walk. Won't do that again!
Next we worked on the changes. I had a lot of trouble with the twos today, but luckily Salcido was incredibly patient with me. We did good fours and then good threes and one line of pretty good twos, but not "Olli good" so he wanted me to do the twos again. But Salcido was on his program, so he was onto the ones. We rode line after line of ones instead of twos. I kept trying harder, but then I was moving around too much with my upper body to give him good aids. "Quiet with your upper body, and just move your leg!" "You must really feel Right, Right, Left, Left, Right, Right, Left, Left, but not lean!!" Finally we did some good twos, and I gave him a break (mostly for me!) But then it was back to work for trot and piaffe and passage. This horse's trot is unreal. He has such a strange conformation of the back - kind of long, and incredibly wide underneath the middle to cantle of the saddle. Then a fairly short but totally flat croup. It makes him a little uncomfortable to sit, but I did my best German Man impression and SAT.
IN the corners, WITH bend
STRAIGHT on the longside with NO bend
UP in front, SITTING behind
ALWAYS more activity
Much better half passes today, although not enough bend for Olli's taste. And then *holy shit* piaffe and passage. I will really try to get someone to video soon. Jonathan came to pick me up and saw some at the end. He said, "I don't know anything, but even I know that was incredible."
The biggest thing he had me focus on in the transitions was to keep the contact absolutely the same on the way out to passage from piaffe. (And into piaffe from passage, but that is easier.) I always had the hardest time with the piaffe to passage transition with Lancer, enough so that I don't really think I ever got a good one. These felt so perfect. Now, I know they were not perfect, because Olli told me so, but they felt it! It's so tempting to throw the contact away, even a little, when you want to ride out to passage, but the horse needs something to push back up into, and you need something to half halt against. It wasn't a lot of contact, but it was 100% even in the reins and totally unchanged from passage, to piaffe, and back to passage. Hard for me not to throw the reins away and pet him when he piaffes like that!!
Have I mentioned how sore I am? I ride 5 or 6 horses at home every day, and here I am only riding two. But the power with which these horses go and the intensity of my half halts and my activating leg aids is making me so sore I can barely move. I feel fine when I'm riding, luckily, but not in the afternoons and evenings! I'm trying to do my yoga at night and drink lots of water. I didn't pack any ibuprofen, but I think a trip to the pharmacy is in order for tomorrow.