Monday: Tried riding in one of the trial close contact saddles. It was a Passier close contact (don't remember the model) and the minute I swung my leg over the saddle, I wasn't impressed. The saddle didn't fit Cadence at all, and she was tense, sucked back, and trying to buck. We walked, trotted, threw in a little canter, and hopped over a wee tiny x-rail, all the time my foot was in considerable pain. Clearly not quite ready to ride with stirrups yet.
I switched over to the dressage saddle with the hope of remedying some parts of the ride, but Cadence was still miserable and alternately sucked back or charging forward. Gave up on the best note possible.
Wednesday: Lunged Cadence and did some ground work. She was a bit pushy but relatively good all in all. A bit stiff right.
Friday: I'd had an awful ride on Tuesday, and was almost putting off riding again. School consumed me (neurophysiology and genetics, anyone?) and I just let it. So naturally with 3 non-riding days in a row, Cadence was difficult. She was tense, stiff to the right, and energetic. When she's had a bit too much time off, her excess energy tends to come out in excess attitude.
The trot work was decent enough, but it fall apart in the canter work. We started to the right (as we usually do, because her left lead canter is the one she likes to run on) but Cadence was far more interesting in galloping rather than sitting back and collecting, and locked up her body when I attempted to bring her back. And when she'd lock up, she'd become unbalanced and end up swapping out, grabbing the bit, and even breaking once. We ended up just pushing through some walk-canter-walk-side pass, keeping her busy, moving, thinking, and not giving her enough time to flip out. My right arm was SO SORE by the end of the ride I was set on having my coach ride her the next day, and popping the clammer in her mouth.
Saturday: Saturday was lesson day, and though I'd planned on having my coach ride her.... somehow I ended up sitting in the saddle instead. My foot was feeling okay after my ride (with stirrups) so, what harm could it do? I DID put the clammer in her mouth, and was glad I did. Her trot work was lovely. Soft, even, and not laying on the right in the transitions.
We ran through the lateral work, and Cadence's leg yield and shoulder-in work was fantastic! Nice and consistent, and most importantly... calm! She was a bit fussy in the haunches in, but it wasn't bad. I let the mare down majorly in the half-pass though. When my coach rode her last week, she introduced Cadence to the half pass, and quickly demonstrated beautiful, correct, and consistent half-pass work in both the walk and the trot. However, when I tried to replicate that it was a little less picturesque! To say the least. It felt like we were either in a shoulder in, haunches in, or leg-yield. I just couldn't seem to get the shoulder and the haunches working together for me! We got a few steps though.
The canter work was... well... better than Friday. Cadence was again unhappy about collection, and demonstrated this through bucking. Very un-Cadence like behaviour. Anyway, I picked up a dressage whip, corrected her when she bucked, and we went on our happy little way. Miss Mare was still heavier and stiffer on my right rein, specifically when I was bringing her back. We worked on getting quality transitions, even (or perhaps especially) when Cadence was a little revved up. The goal was to spiral in on a canter circle, making sure she was balanced and not pushing her/putting her in a place where she can't balance herself. Then when on the smaller circle, transition to trot staying on the small circle. Spiral out in the trot, then repeat. Its one of my favourite exercises to do, and I find it an incredibly helpful exercise for horses tha like to barge through downwards transitions and rush off. Cadence was sweaty at the end, but still had her spunk!
Sunday: Tried the other test ride saddle I had, a Prestige Roma Jump. The saddle did not fit me at all, and left my lower leg swinging like a pendulum over our cross rail, no matter what I did. However, it was far more comfortable than the Passier, and I think if I had a flap that actually fit (this was a very small and not very forward flap, whereas I need the exact opposite) the saddle may have left a better impression. However, I wasn't sold on it and for that price, I need a saddle that makes me want to wrap it all up in bubble wrap (to match my horse) and put it up on a pedestal.
Anywho, the good part of that was that we cantered a cross rail a few times, which is almost like jumping. Oh, and I successfully rode in jumping length stirrups without too much pain. Yay!