So we fell behind somewhat in our training, due to me going on courses, work and children's school holidays.
Eric has been rather an interesting challenge for me. In comparison to Jay, who you saw last week, Eric requires a LOT more tone and fitness from the rider to survive his lack of balance and dis-organisation. Last week I was at a teacher training course with Mary Wanless which helped me get more riding in and I can gradually feel myself becoming a match for Eric.
Meanwhile I'll leave you with some photos and a little snippet from when Milly cantered Eric recently :)
Eric has been improving at walk over his back. As we focus on keeping his back lifted and keeping him paying attention to the rider you can actually feel the muscles bulking up under the saddle.
Getting the horse moving correctly over the back in walk, through ridden and groundwork training, really helps the horse understand how to move correctly, build the correct muscles and allow for smoother upward transitions into trot.
Additionally it is important to practice the walk-halt-walk tour in a way which the horse learns to keep its back lifted throughout and stays paying attention to the rider. It is really easy for the horse once it comes into halt to drop the back away from the rider and lose attention.
Trot is exceptionally hard for me - in the war of who disorganises who, Eric does a very good job of attempting to disorganise me.
One of the things I really learned at Teacher Training last week is that I am not into my back enough. By this I mean that my back rebars ( see Mary's course on Steering Straightness & Sideways ) are very soggy. This means my back ends up rounding, when I sit I am tucking under too much and there is a collapse on the sit phase in rising trot. Here is the rising trot at a good moment when the length of my back and the length of front match
Now that I am getting more time in the saddle, things are improving at a reasonable rate. In terms of training Eric, it is currently my lack of tone/fitness which is slowing things down. More time needed in the saddle!
Milly had a little go with Eric during a session where I ran out of puff and she decided to take him for a canter! Looks like Eric ran out of puff at the end and totally surprised Milly!