You all know that as part of our prep for WEC, we’ve got Francis in bootcamp: 6 days on, 1 day off, with one of those rides coming from AT. I’m also upping the intensity of my own rides, we’re doing lots of stretches, and overall just turning up the heat a bit for the ol’ Frankfurter.
I don’t know which of these things is the cause, or if it’s (probably) the combination, but Frankie feels the best he’s ever felt. Obviously he’s always been an excellent beast and works very hard and is the bestest pony in the whole universe. But the last couple weeks, he feels downright fancy.
I’ve been riding just in my basic snaffle- no gag, no special mouthpiece, nada. But he’s been so much lighter in my hand, carrying himself across the ground. Collecting his stride at the canter usually takes some pretty “loud” seat and leg aids, with a strong feel of the bridle to keep him under himself. I almost had a heart attack the other day- I sat back a little, half-halted lightly with my seat, and BAM OUR STRIDE WAS MAGICALLY 2′ SHORTER.
OK so this is a new sensation. Maybe I’m finally learning how to ride?
I decided to test him a little bit by asking for a rather small circle on the left lead- as you may know, we are not ambiturners. Those left turns have always been a little more unbalanced and he has struggled to give me the bend in that direction.
WELL BUTTER MY BISCUIT WE GOT A LOVELY SLIGHT BEND THROUGH THE SUPREMELY BALANCED TURN WITH A POWERFUL COLLECTED STRIDE.
I swear, I had such a light steady touch on the reins because he was feeling so strong over his back and up into the bridle, I was just there on the other end of the contact feeling like I was pushing instead of pulling. And it was amazing. I extended and collected at all gaits in both directions so I could explore this new button and it worked every single time.
You all know that I have fun with Frankie during every ride- even the frustrating days where I feel like I can’t ride to save my life have their moments of redemption or progress (or Francis making cute faces which makes everything better). But it’s a whole new level to literally feel his progress- I’ve been giggling like a little girl throughout my rides.
I have some time set up with AT next weekend for me to watch her ride and talk me through how she works with Frankie, and then I’m going to hop on so she can coach me through replicating that ride. We’re also going to try again with the elevator- that’s what she rides him in and thinks we’ll have a lot of success once we adjust to it. I’ll definitely be glad for some 1-on-1 coaching to sort that out. I’m such a visual learner so I know this session will be MAJORLY helpful in pinpointing specific things I can do differently to encourage the best work out of Francis.
I’m supremely grateful that AT suggested that we work together on this- her rides on Frankie have always been very noticeably good for his fitness and responsiveness, so building the capabilities to do that more on my own is fantastic. She isn’t just hopping on and off to do her scheduled ride and leaving it at that, she’s thinking ahead to sharing that knowledge and equipping me with those tools. I know some people prefer not to use pro rides, but mine come with so many perks for my own riding!
T-9 days to blast off and I. Can’t. Wait.