"Timing is everything."
Sounds so simple, doesn't it? But it's not.
When are you holding too long? When are you letting go too soon? These are questions I'm trying to find through feel with Leah.
On Sunday I had a GREAT ride with her. We'd had a lesson the day before and worked on her loping (riderless), and that seemed to improve her walk and trot on Sunday when we were alone.
Today, however, not so good.
When I went to get her, she was a tad grumpy. Also, she had been grazing on the green grass and her stools are soft. Reminds me of the Scrooge quote, "There's more of gravy than grave to you." It's possible she just wasn't feeling her best today.
She did awesome on the groundwork--very tuned in and soft. She stood very well for me to mount. (We'd had a couple issues with that last month.) She bent in softly at both sides.
When we started to walk out, however, she didn't want to go straight. She started tuning into her herd mates and I had to redirect her feet a lot. She also didn't want to maintain the speed I asked and she kept breaking into a trot. To top it off, she also rooted at the bit--really stretching her neck down to take my reins.
Eventually, we got some nice walking and so we trotted, but her speed was excessively fast. I pulled back on the reins--softly first, than harder, and I eventually got her to slow down. But then she'd speed back up. We worked for a long time--getting varying results.
At the end, I started working with her on moving away from leg pressure, and she did some amazing side-passing. So, we ended on a good note. She was sweating from ear to tail, though, and it took me a while to cool her off with rest and a cold bath.
I've been reflecting about it the last few hours and I'm worried my releases aren't right. I'm going to talk to Regina about it at my next lesson. It could be, too, this all had to do with her not feeling well, assuming she doesn't feel well, and that question can only be answered with a little more time.
Either way, it won't hurt me to really practice and learn more about the release. I know that green horses need every bit of encouragement--but letting go too soon only reinforces a bad habit. It's a fine, fine line.