I had a great ride on Elly this afternoon. The girl who rides her most frequently is away at camp for a month so I decided I will take this time and work with Elly some more. I have been reading a lot about the "3 flip 3" and Hip Shoulder Shoulder exercises on The Click That Teaches list and wanted to experiment some more. I've been using them both with Ande on the ground but last time I tried the Hip Shoulder Shoulder (HSS) under saddle, I couldn't make it work. Today, it worked like a charm and wow, was it amazing. I felt completely connected to Elly by thought-strings. I wish I could get some video of her- my only concern is whether or not she is forward enough. She is a complete slug with students but I did pay close attention to her walk as I led her to the arena and she was marching along nicely. I didn't think to check until we were halfway there when I got a mental image of the way she and the student creeeeep slooooowly out. I was walking right out and she was right at my side, marching along as well. I think she just matches the energy of who she is with. All I do to get her to walk from a halt when I am on is lift my reins and off she goes, so I know she is responsive. Still, it would be nice to SEE that she is tracking up sufficiently. Maybe if we get a day that I can be comfortable that it won't rain, I'll set up the tripod outside the arena.
In a nutshell (and God forbid don't try this exercise from this explanation as it's WAY simplified- go to Alex's book or DVD!), 3 flip 3 (3F3) is 3 flexions of increasing amount, followed by a step under of the inside hind (degree anywhere from a full "flip" of the hip to a simple engagement of the inside hind, depending on how much you ask for), followed by 3 lateral steps. Hope I got that right- anybody out there who knows what they're doing is free to correct me!
With her child rider, Elly has started a new little bizarre evasion in that when she is asked for a walk-trot transition, she inverts, both laterally and longitudinally and stalls out. It's very bizarre to watch and I'm not sure if it's a reaction to the too-deep sand in the arena or a severe crookedness in the rider. I have done a lot of work with the rider to keep her hands from crossing over the neck: I actually had to have her hold the mane with her outside hand) and then make her look OUTSIDE the arena..in the direction she would go if she was leg yielding out. This all works to correct it- but doesn't prevent it from happening initially. The girl was quite tickled to do several lateral steps from a 15 m circle to a 20 so thankfully it was rewarding for her but sure is a weird puzzle.
So today, after we had done several successful 3F3 exercises at the walk, I asked for a trot and she did the same thing to me. I immediately asked for a 3F3 and she corrected. Ask for another transition- same thing. So I think it either is the sand that makes her not want to trot or it's just something she's learned and become a little habit. We kept working at it and each time she inverted less and corrected more easily until finally she gave a little trot step and got an immediate C/T. We repeated that several times; if she inverted at all, I just quietly asked for the 3F3....using all my willpower not to have my request be punishing, but just a request back into correct carriage until she decided it was a lot more rewarding to go straight to trot for a C/T than to have to go through all the steps of 3F3 first! When I got a nice upward transition with just a hint of a leg aid and no inverting and a forward 3 trot steps, C/T and jumped off. I could have a lot of fun with this mare in the next month.....:)