Thursday, July 1, 2021

Without video does it even count?

Dressage lesson take 2 - three lessons in 2 weeks! We're on a roll. After 4 hours of sleep (yay flipping from 2nd to 3rd shift mid-week) I hauled myself out of bed yesterday morning and we loaded up Yoshi and Ms. GY's horse. I went first this time, "driver rides first". I told the trainer the problems I'd been having - when I ask for the inside bend tracking left in the way I thought she had shown me, he was falling in more even with a lot of inside leg. When I asked for inside bend tracking right, we're getting the weird head tilt. I asked what unevenness I had that was contributing and she said that it was probably just him being green and uneven. Hrm, but J mare would occasionally do that same weird right head tilt. 

Once we actually started working, she noted that I was asking him to bend right with my inside rein, but going left with my body when we were tracking right; the same turn my right shoulder more to the inside that I was told the week before. Retention ya'll, I've got it. To the left, I was dropping my hand down rather than bringing my elbow back when asking for bend. Fix that, and magically, he wasn't ignoring the inside leg and pushing through it to make the circle smaller when I asked for bend. 

She has a pretty rapid fire way of teaching, and I think I love it. For us it was just change of direction after change of direction. No drilling a circle till it was perfect, but usually just one or two 20m circles then change direction and get it the other way, change back, and again, and again. For Ms. GY who was starting flying changes with her horse (side note, I've never seen those be taught, it was SO COOL), it was walk-canter right-walk-canter left-walk-canter right and so on (probably 15 walk-canter transitions in one lap around the arena) with an ever decreasing number of canter strides and walk strides. She matches it with her voice and her own energy level as well. 

She discussed the piriformis muscle as well and had me consciously feel mine and then feel tension and then attempt to feel relaxation. She said they are the flight muscle that is tensed before animals take off, so if I tense mine, Yoshi goes looking for what is about to happen. When I focused on dropping my femur straight down the change was instantaneous. Very cool. 

We did fewer trot-canter transitions this time and instead stayed in the gait for about four 20m circles and a total of a full lap around (circle at A/C, canter large to E/B, circle, canter large to A/C). I was NOT to nag him into staying in the canter by getting suckered into driving every stride with my leg clamped on "if you have to use that much leg to canter at all, how are you going to do half-pass or collected or extended canter?" If he faltered, calf on, then tap with whip. He got quite offended in his ears and his tempo the first two times with the whip, but he's a clever pony and quickly learned to maintain his own pace. To the left I was much too stiff in my right elbow. Consciously moving it with the strides helped to allow him to actually go forward.

After the canter we practiced slowing the trot and making it bigger. She described the slowing as a tin man with creaky joints that don't open well. He was VERY responsive to this and would break to the walk as soon as I did this. So we did it much more subtly and over 5-6 strides. This worked, but he definitely found it very challenging to do. Making it bigger was easier "now you've got really well lubricated joints, open your hips and release your thighs". Back and forth, each for about half a 20m circle. Introducing longitudinal suppleness. 

We're taking next week off from a lesson, but are going again the week after that. Lots to work on and think about in the mean time! 

Hopefully have something good to compare to in a few months with all this dressage!

He LOVES these balance pads. So much licking and chewing.


  1. Oh man that sounds intense but AWESOME!! Also I think my horse would lay down and die if I tried to do 15 walk canter walk transitions on a single circle LOL

    1. I know! I would lay down and die too. I was amazed.