It was also a good opportunity for Anthony to really feel how she rides, and in turn, be able to play around with what works and what doesn't work, and to verbalize those findings back to me. As someone who has done most of Annie's training (aside from some help from the amazing Trainer K last Spring), it was an opportunity to see where we stacked up and where we were falling short. I trust Anthony's opinion and knew he wouldn't hold back. He is completely and utterly honest, which is also part of the reason why I didn't get him to ride her before. There was a bit of intimidation there, if I must admit, haha.
Anthony seemed a bit confused as to why I wanted him to ride Annie, but thankfully he humored me and climbed aboard, haha. I explained our recent cross-firing issues (once again, sigh), and a few other minor issues we've been battling (haunches tipping inwards, lack of connection through transitions... among a few other little things we've been working on).
Some key points from Anthony's ride:
- Overall, he stated I've done a good job with her - all the basics are there and she is receptive to the aids.
- She does indeed like to tip her haunches in, which is evident at the walk and trot. This is where our missed canter leads and cross-firing comes from. I need to ensure stable outside rein connection.
- She likes to move her rider in the saddle so they sit on their inside seat bones while she tips her haunches in, which makes it feel like an insignificant adjustment on her part. Need to stay straight and upright in the saddle.
- She likes it when things don't change - she works quite well trotting around in a nice frame so long as there are no other questions being asked. Once you ask for leg yielding, or a circle, etc she'll pop above the contact or change her rhythm (Anthony said she'll change something) in response to the change of aids. He suggested that I change it up on her a lot. Ride an extended trot for four strides, collected for 5 strides, halt, etc. Lots of movement, lots of change of direction.
- She likes to bulge her lower neck muscle when resisting the contact. Need to keep contact and encourage her to seek the bridle.
- In regards to her cross-firing (which she did once for a whole two strides), Anthony stated that he believes the issue starts out minor before it comes to a head and that I simply miss the "warning signs" that it is about to become a bigger issue. (I had asked why every few months we have to duke out the cross-firing issue before she gets over herself).
- Anthony also mentioned that he feels she is very weak overall. This kinda made me sad, because I've done so much work with her, but I did see what he was meaning. He stated he wasn't sure why she is such a slow developing horse, but gave me a few tips to see if they'd help (nutrition-wise). It's interesting though, because the new Vet we saw this past Spring had said Annie is a very slow maturing horse based off of her body structure. He mentioned that Second Level would be attainable, but down the road (when she is 10-12). It kinda hit me and has left me a bit bummed, but we'll do things at our own speed and keep puttering along. I've been told this exact thing by countless other professionals, so it isn't exactly a shock.
- Riding her in a higher frame (2nd lvl frame) is hard for her - she naturally wants to carry herself downhill and onto her shoulders. Practice this, but not frequently.
- He also mentioned (and I found this interesting), that he would not call Annie a hot horse. He stated that when she gets frantic/antsy, it's moreso to do with being nervous or unsure, but he wouldn't call her hot. He said, "This is a horse who wants to do the 2'6" hunters."
And if anything, I was super excited to ride the next day!