Or else it gets to do it again.
Our exercise last night included 4 sets of poles, placed diagonally to the track, with 1-3 strides difference in between. It looked something like this:
Basically you had to come off the left or right, and using your outside aids, turn your horse through the poles. Lots of lateral movement here, and lots of contact. I dig it.
After moving the horses through the poles, we had to trot them over the fences in a straight line. Gracie tends to bulge to the left, so this really required me to use more left leg on her. Now that I think of it, maybe that’s why my right leg is weaker? Hmmmm….
Anyways, it wasn’t too bad; however, keeping an even pace was tricky given that they weren’t perfectly set apart, so last minute not-so-pretty-but-practical measures had to be taken to ensure straightness.
Lastly, my instructor pushed the poles together, and we had to canter over them in a straight line. Coming off the track, it looked like this:
Seems easy, right? #jokes
The key here was to keep the horses straight while not letting them just pull us through, requiring a lot of technical work on the part of the rider. Keeping them straight, cantering with impulsion, and as even as possible over crooked poles on the ground was more challenging than I think we all realized. Some horses ended up in the track, others pulled their riders through as fast as they could to get it over with, some switched their leads, others broke to the trot, etc. Lots of flatwork disasters, dressage catastrophes, dressatrophes? Yup, let’s go with that.
I learned that even when smushing Gracie together, more leg and less hand (as usual, you’d think I’d get this by now) does more good than the other way around. The first few times I went through like that, we were more or less fine. When I added more hand and took away leg, we broke to the trot, we bulged to the left, and we had to do it again. And again. And again. Lesson learned. Storing that in the toolbox.
Overall, I think it was a great exercise to force yourself to fix a problem “mid-line” instantly and quickly. You had to be clear about what you were asking for, actually ask for it, and when things came up, you had to act quickly so as to not allow the issue to affect the next pole.