There have been no breaks for us. As usual, both Octavian and I have been working very hard on our dressage! Gabriele has been a wonderful trainer to be a working student for, and I am dissapointed when I think that Octavian will be coming home in a few weeks. It will be nice to have him close again, but I will miss being a working student!
Our recent quest has been becoming light on the forehand, more up in front, and using the hind end more. This feels awkward to me, because I've had "down and round" drilled into me for most of my life, but now I am having to think "up and round", so at times, I feel like I am comitting a crime! It's a learning process, and I'm starting to get used to new things, however, Octavian feels very nice when he's in this new frame, despite the fact that my abs start hurting after about 5 minutes of sitting trot...his trot feels completely different! Our lateral work has improved leaps and bounds. A lot of the problems we were having were stemming from attitude going into the movements. I would try too hard, tense up, and as always that would transfer to Octavian. I've had to learn to "let things flow" and relax a lot more during lateral movements! This has especially been positive for our shoulder-ins. Nearly everytime we go into shoulder-in, I start smiling because it feels so good to be doing a correct shoulder-in!
The canter is better, but we're not quite as up in front as we need to be. Regardless, Octavian is trying very hard to do everything I ask of him, and I'm sure the canter will get there soon with a lot of hard work on both of our parts. The good thing is, he is much more supple at the canter and I no longer feel as if I'm riding a train...about to wreck! He's stopped running which is such a big improvement. Gabriele has us doing a lot of thinking leg-yielding in the canter, which as I'm finding out, is drastically improving our canter.
We've had a lot of chances to get out and condition in the humidity and heat these last few weeks. I'm pleased with Octavian's fitness progress. Soon we will be bumping up our trot and canter sets, which gives me butterflies because I know I'm doing it for the CCI*!
Not a lot of jumping has been done recently. We've done some gymnastics, and I continue to work on not panicking and taking long spots, or freezing up and causing us to chip in. That being said, Octavian feels the best he ever has over fences. I feel like we are working together (no debating approaching the fence) vs. our old issue of being on two different pages.
This weekend we our off to a local schooling combined test where we will do a combined test division, an additional dressage test, and an additional "jumper round", which I will probably ride quietly as not to fire up and send the wrong message to Octavian. We are finally quieting down in the stadium ring, and as much as I'd like to be competitive, I don't want to bring up old issues! I'm extremely excited to get out again though, and hopefully we will both remain relaxed during the dressage tests.
...off to mentally ride our tests!