Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (On Line, 45 mins) Aspen and I worked on more relaxation and stretching on the circle by using the driving game to push Z3 (ribs) out a little on the circle - encouraging a partial disengagement of sorts and allowing her to activate her hind legs while releasing tension in her body - therefore lifting her withers and stretching her neck and back a little. She's really getting it, it took a fraction of the time and just a suggestion on my part to move her ribs out to get the blowing and stretching. We also got to play with a lot of transitions since she was so lazy today! Also played with jumping a bigger jump, she put a lot of effort into it so we didn't stay with it for too long as I was really pleased with her new found confidence and exuberance over the jumps. As we were starting a traveling circle away from the jump toward the other end of the arena to move onto something else Aspen came around the circle and was facing the direction of the jump but wasn't really near it nor was I aiming her for it and she just went for it - luckily I caught this and instead of stopping her or letting the rope guide her back on the circle as it was far too short to reach the jump from where we were at I just dropped my Feather Line to see if she'd actually make the jump. And she did!!! She went relatively out of her way to jump the new big jump and then came back to me (now at Liberty and dragging the rope) with this great ears-forward expression on her face! So awesome!!!! What a special horse I have!! :D

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (Freestyle, 45 mins) I really wanted to focus on canter transitions today as we get closer to being able to play with Level 3 tasks under saddle so before I began the transitions we did some warming up with Steady Rein at the trot to encourage her to swing more freely in her ribs and lengthen her stride, and to stretch longitudinally. I felt my legs a lot more secure under me today and today it finally felt like my Fluidity took a big step forward over the last few rides. I could see this in Aspen's natural desire to carry herself longer and lower nearly the whole time while at the trot with lots of blowing and breathing!

In my lesson last week Jenny really helped me understand the difference between moving my whole body and just pieces of my body when asking for different gaits. I was bringing my life up and down based on if I wanted Aspen to go faster or slower but I wasn't changing the rhythm in my body to match. So today I went into the canter transitions with a strong focus in moving my body in the gait I wanted. We got really good right lead canter departs but our left lead departs were terrible! She got rushy, brace-y, and eventually started bucking a little and pinning her ears every time I asked for the left canter. I know that it's all in my body, my body does everything better to the right so I know it's me. Eventually I just had to back off, go back to the right canter and get a few departs and let her rest to establish the idea of 'as soon as you canter I'll leave you alone and it's game over - you can rest'. Once I did that I went back to the left and got a few left canter departs - when I finally got a nice one without her being an evil little ninja pony I just called it quits for the day and got off.

I give her a lot of credit for putting up with me and my imbalances in my body as we both try to learn to do this correctly together. She's such a sweetheart and I can't wait until I am better for her! ♥