Although icy conditions grounded me this past weekend, I did get a good ride in on Comrade earlier in the week. Comrade's barn is about a half an hour away from mine, so a lot of times I will go to my barn early, then go to Comrade and then back to mine for dinner feeding. The day of this ride I was running behind causing me to try and beat nightfall. For times sake I put on the bareback pad and off we went.
Comrade tends to be lazy, so I have to remind him to activate his hind end. Transitions and lateral work both help achieve the activation. With the light going I also needed to keep his attention on me and not the bogey monsters. I dug into the bag of tricks and decided on the Circle, Diamond, Square exercise. This is a great exercise my old instructor taught me that is highly adaptable for any horse.
For this exercise you can start on a 20m circle, then you can move to a diamond by making corners at the points of the circle, then you can square the circle. With in each of this shapes you can ask for transitions, or lateral movements while maintaining even pace. Comrade and I started with finding the working pace on the circle. Then I halted at each point of the circle and asked for a partial turn on the haunches, creating the diamond, and trot in between. This allowed him to step under and push with his hind end. Riding bareback allowed me to feel his back come up under me. From the diamond I could move to the square and work corners. The best part of this exercise is that you can constantly change and adapt it while your riding depending on your horse. By the end of the ride I was able to do transitions with in the trot gait while Comrade was coming through his back and maintaining a soft neck. Quality and response, nothing better than that.
I have always gotten good work when riding this exercise even in its simplest form. Now if only it would dry up so I can ride my other ponies.