Tuesday I bit the bullet and finally went to the tack store to purchase a surcingle and side reins for Johnny. The surcingle is a tool with I have been meaning to pick up for some time now, but I just keep putting it off because, with this being winter and me not grooming at all, I just really haven't had the extra money to throw around. Finally, I did manage to get some extra cash, so after staring at the surcingles on the rack at Big Dees for 15 minutes I finally picked one out and bought it. I've been doing quite a bit of research on the different kind of side reins for some time now and although I really wanted some Vienna side reins (also known as "sliding side reins") Big Dees did not carry them and so I settled for my next choice which are simple leather side reins with and elastic end. I prefer these to all leather reins because a rein with no give can teach a horse to lean against it, and the kind with the rubber donut just seemed much too heavy to me.
Today I drove back up to school to take care of Emmy and Johnny. After turnout and stall cleaning, I set John up with the surcingle and lunged him for about 10 minutes. I first started off without the reins on so that he could loosen up a bit. I let him walk, trot and canter both directions before I put them on. Of coarse, I stared the side reins on the loosest setting so that Johnny wouldn't feel trapped by them. We only walked and trotted, but he went really, really well in them and I got a chance to work on some of the problems that we have when he comes on to the contact, such as him wanted to back out of my leg instead of reaching under himself with his hind end. After his short lung session, I switched his surcingle for my saddle and rode him around a bit. His back was up and he was moving really well! I think that he's ready for his training to be taken to the next level where I can push him a little further in what I ask of him. He is mentally and physically ready for it. I plan to continue working him with the surcingle at least two or three times a week for a short period of time (like our ten minute warm up today) so that he can start to learn to really give to the contact while maintaining his impulsion from behind.
After Johnny I rode Emmy and my friend D was my eyes on the ground while I worked on my equitation. Regionals is fast-approaching and I don't feel ready at all! Luckily, Emmy was being pushy today and wanted to pull me around the ring a bit (you would think that normally this is a BAD thing, but horses that pull and hang are the kind I am least successful riding so I was grateful for her bratty-ness!) We worked through a couple of Eq tests and then D called a flat class for me, including lead changes, dropping stirrups in trot and canter and lead changes without stirrups. There are definitely some things that I need to work on. I may be switching up who E rides this week so that I can get more practice time on Emmy.
Thinking about hauling Johnny to Chagrin Valley Farms this weekend for a horse show...not sure yet!