It's been a good week with my handsome prince. We had a great lesson with Julie on Wednesday, after two good rides on Monday and Tuesday. Last night I put on his Renegade boots and rode him down to get the mail by the light of the brilliant harvest moon. Then this morning I got up, did chores and got in another good schooling session before the predicted rain. (Yeah, I'm feeling pretty smug about that bit o' time management. ;-)
It's hard to say if our dances were better due to a costume change (I used the Wintec), a shift in my focus (lesson coming up/just past), or the full moon. ;-) Whatever; I'll take them.
During our ride on Tuesday, we progressed from schooling prompt trot/halt/trot transitions to "coiling and releasing the spring" at the trot – asking for a bigger trot, then bringing it back to a more collected trot – for the first time. In our lesson with Julie, we worked on trot lengthenings for the first time. These two exercises sound similar, but are actually very different in execution and purpose. Trot lengthening is only done in USDF First Level tests, but the self-carriage, collection and impulsion developed by "coiling the spring" is useful all the way to Grand Prix. I've heard it said – and agree – that not every horse has a lengthening, but all horses are capable of developing medium and extended trot (although not all medium and extended trots are created equal, of course). Depending on how things develop over the winter and spring, we may flit briefly through First Level on our way to Second Level – or skip First Level all together!