Monday, October 10, 2011

A lesson today!

I don't have much time - gee, so what else is new? - but I wanted to give a quick rundown of my lesson with Phil today. There is no video, even though I had someone there who could have easily gotten some footage! I had my camera and everything, I just forgot to ask. Weak!

Overall Phil is much steadier in his contact and is also much more solid in his canter. No more careening around the ring and scaring me half to death that he's going to wipe out. That's progress!

Things to work on -

1) Phil is starting to really come into my hand and seek the contact, but occasionally he does it in a very firm way, almost rudely. I wasn't sure how to handle this, because I want him to establish contact but I don't want him bearing down so much. My trainer had me actually push him into my hand harder, then half halt and release when he responded. This made him lighter, and practicing this is the first step to teaching him what self carriage is all about. Releasing here is the important part - if you never let go, your horse can't carry itself!

2) Going to the left, especially at the canter, I'm getting locked in my right arm, high in the right shoulder, and off of my right seat bone, which is allowing Phil to avoid loading the right hind. As a result he is twisting body a little, and lowering the left ear. To fix this I need to counter-bend him a little, and think about sitting on my right seat bone to help him load the right hind leg.

3) At the canter it's time to start pushing him into a bigger canter (like the beginnings of an lengthened canter), and then half halt and bring him back to a working canter. This will develop his gaits within the gaits and strengthen his body. It will also get him more attuned to my seat, which he is really starting to listen to very well.

4) Since I now have a decent connection I can start playing around with teaching him about inside leg to outside rein. To do this I need to start releasing with the inside rein when Phil has a "good moment". Meaning he's got nice contact, nice tempo, and is listening. My trainer says I really need to be there with my outside aids when I do this, especially the outside rein. We did some of this tonight and towards the end I was able to push him a bit with my inside leg too.

All of this is very exciting. In just a few short weeks this horse has made some major improvements. My trainer was really impressed tonight with his potential for reaching with his shoulder and driving with his back end. I think he has a lot more to offer in the movement department. I just need to work on realizing that potential fully.

I'm really stoked and already thinking about winter schooling shows. This could be a very fun year.

Oh, and I'll get video on the next lesson (if I remember). For those of you who couldn't see the last video - I'll try and get it up on YouTube. I guess some of your browsers don't like the blogger video player. I'll see what I can do!

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