I'm zooming off to teach a clinic this weekend, so this is very short. I'll get back to you in more detail next week!
Yes, you want to keep the connection in the right rein even when circling to the right, and insist on the horse moving from the left leg into the right rein. Most horses are lazy off the left leg (again, not all, but any horse who's hollow to the right will almost certainly be lazy off the left leg), so you are working that as well as on the honest right connection. It sounds like your horse is improving by leaps and bounds, and of course doing Heather's workouts will make you straighter and more aware, as well as more effective.
I'm glad your summer's been better than expected. We are very worried about ours, as we've had such a warm winter, with so little precipitation, that usually means a very long, very hot, and very dry summer! I'll be in touch once I get home!
Most horses are hollow to the right, so yours is just normal. Some are hollow to the left, but the majority are hollow to the right - the side the mane falls on is a big clue! Exercises like leg-yield in walk and trot (and even canter, just make sure you hold canter position in your body) and shoulder-in, properly ridden on the outside rein will help a lot. What will help most is to take and insist on keeping right rein contact, while releasing left rein contact and pushing the horse into the right rein with the left leg at the girth. That's hard going to the right, but if you are consistent your horse will begin to push into your right hand, as your left rein connection is too intermittent to allow the horse to carry itself there. Bear in mind that you are no doubt feeling the effects of some of Heather's workouts, and your horse will have a similarly hard time at first. All horses are born crooked to some degree, and are just as one-sided as we are, so starightening them out takes time, patience, and commitment, but it will come. You need also to ensure that you sit on the right side of your horse, as you will instinctively sit on the strong side, which is the left. You must cosciously put your weight in the right stirrup and in your right seatbone, to encourage your horse to push its back up against your weight on the right, thereby straightening itself. I have very straight horses, and they bend evenly to both sides - judges comment on my tests to that effect regularly. My attention to that is partly what pushed me towards Heather, as I knew I personally wasn't as straight as I want my horses to be, and that seemed unreasonable and unfair. Good luck, and keep me posted on your progress!
I'm back from frozen Calgary, but I had a super time. My clients there are great people, and they're coming along by leaps and bounds, which is very exciting for me!
The moving the horses out for 3 weeks was pretty bizarre. We were hauling out the afternoon and evening the fire blew up into a firestorm, and I had had (weirdly enough) a premonition about the fire, and had set up a place for my own horses to go. I got them out in a hurry, and drove them to a community south of us, out of the way of the winds and the fire. I had to haul my parents' horses to safe haven as well, but the emergency preparedness people were onto things quickly so we hauled to a racetrack and fairgrounds at another community south of us. Then I started hauling friends' horses, as the burning branches fell out the sky. At 7 p.m. I had the headlights on on the truck but couldn't see the highway. I hauled until 1 a.m. that night, and then went home to sleep. My family was put on 10 minute alert, and my parents were evacuated that night. They went to stay with my sister south of us, which is where my family ended up as well. We lived in tents on the lawn, and ran from venue to venue all day every day to exercise horses, clean barns, and feed horses. My law office was also evacuated for 3 weeks, and we moved into vacant office space in the mountains north of us. That menat moving all the files, competuers, networks, etc. It truly was a nightmare. I'll tell you about hte corrkedness issue in the next e-mail, as I expect I'll run out of spece shortly!
I'm so glad you're finding Heather's exercises so helpful. I have really benefited from them, and my students are finding the same result. I just get better and better in the tack, and all of my clients who are using Heather's information are improving, some of them quite rapidly!
I have never been concerned about colour with my horses. I like athletes with good minds, and they come in various colours! The one thing I don't actually want to ride again in competition is stailions. I did that for 15 years, and they're just so undependable. I love riding mares, and I've had lots of gelding. We currently have 3 chestnuts, 2 KWPN geldings and a KWPN mare, and they are all very different. I have young Anglo-Trakehner mare coming up but she's bay.
I know how scary fire season is. We have been evacuated twice, the first time for 3 weeks and the second time for 4 days. Our boreal, or coniferous forest interspersed with grassland is extremely flammable, and the right combination of fire, wind and heat can create firestorme, which cover enormous amounts of territory within seconds. We are having an El Nino winter, which is very warm and icncludes very little precipitation, so concerns are rising for the summer. The last time we had a strong El Nino (and it wasn't nearly as strong as this) we had major fires, and 40,000 people were evacuated for 3 - 4 weeks. We have almost no snow, which is very unusual (by this time in the winter we usually have about 4 feet) and the temperatures are above 0 most days and nights.
At least I don't have to worry about flash flooding where I live, but farther down the Okanagan valley it's a major problem, especially in fire-ravaged areas. California is having a horrible winter due to the El Nino rains on the fire-stripped hillsides, and they are having mudslides and flash floods regularly.
The system cut me off, so here's the rest of my last comment:
We are currently experiencing a heat wave of sorts (for us in mid-winter)! The temperatures have been above 0 for the past 5 days, and it's raining! Usually we're at between -5 and -25 at this time of year, and we have feet of snow. Unfortunately, it's due to the El Nino phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, which means we are likely to have a very hot and dry summer, and where I live that means forest fires. Living in Oz as you do you will have an understanding of what that means, but we are surrounded by thick boreal forest, which burns very hotly and very fast. We and our horses have twice been evacuated (the first time for 3 weeks) due to fires. At least a lot of the fuel right around our farm has burned in recent years, which lowers the risk!
Good luck with Heather's program - it's done wonders for my day to day comfort, as well as for my effectiveness in the tack.
I know what you mean about getting older - I never used to get sore or have back spasms, but I'm 52 and coming up on 53 this summer, and things have changed.
I do Heather's regime at least 5 times per week. The wonderful thing about it is that I don't have to do it all at once, and I can do it in my breeches. I can do 20 minutes when I come in for lunch, and another 15 or 20 when the late afternoon chores are done, before I start dinner. I could do it in the evening while I watch the news, before late chores, if I wanted to. I don't have to dress up, I don't have to drive anywhere, and I can break it up into chunks which fit into my day.
I have a boutique boarding barn and training business, and I teach all over western Canada. That means a lot of hours sitting in the truck driving, sitting in airports, and sitting on aircraft. Heather's program is something I can take anywhere, and that helps a lot. I can do it in hotel rooms (have done) and in billets (have done) and some of it I can even do in the airports! I also do chores in my barn every day, and that, plus a lot of old fractures and injuries, can make me quite one-sided. Heather's program has straightened that out, and made me much straighter in the saddle.
I just finished my workout and was thinking of you while I was doing it. I feel so much better every day after I do it. I ride a number of horses every day/week, teach a lot, do barn chores, etc., so I'm more fit than the average 52 year old, but I was experiencing all the same issues with straightness in the tack.
Heather pinpointed my problems immediately, and put together a great program for me, which has resolved my problem of feeling not quite straight in the saddle (and blocking the change to the right in my hip) as well as completely clearing up the back problem I've been having for a couple of years. The back issue really reared its ugly head last summer at a competition, where I rode changes in a tst and everything went into spasm, resulting in my having to scratch the rest of that show and confront the source of the pain. Both my morses and I are much more comfortable and productive now, and as I told Heather the last time I spoke to her, I've lost 2" from my waist - extra benefit!
I'm glad you're taking on an online training program as I'm sure you will feel the benefits just as I have.
Wow- 200 acres... IU bet you can spend hours on a horse and not have to travel in circles!
It's interesting, I have some friends that have been to parts of Australia and they say Arizona is sort of like it, especially the Red Rocks that are in Sedona. The southern parts of AZ are quite hot- since I do things in degrees, rather than celcius I'm not going to try to give you temps but I know that the Pony Clubs in Phoenix meet to begin to ride at 5 in the morning, in the summer. Phoenix is the desert with the tall cactus with arms. I'm in Northern Arizona, in the mountains. It's considered high desert. Our elevation is 7 or 8 thousand feet...once again a different measurement but it's high enough that the olympic team has sent teams here to train because the altitude makes their lungs work harder. And we get plenty of snow but never enough rain in the summer. AND we are in an area of dormant volcanoes. How's that for coincidence? My 2 acres is volcanic sand. It's black and sand like sand dunes. I can see the volcano from my back door. There is not such thing as grass.
My horses really miss grass and soon we hope to move east into the farming part of the US.