I had a great lesson on Phil with my trainer tonight. Full details in the videos, but I'll summarize so you know what's going on. This is basically two videos of the last ten minutes of the lesson.
The first half of the lesson my trainer felt that I wasn't giving Phil enough boundaries for connection. She said when I first got him I was being nice, of course, but now it seems like he is looking for a more defined set of parameters regarding connection and where his neck should be. I was giving a lot, but not insisting that he maintain the connection. I had to do some pretty big, firm half halts, which got a little ugly, but he quickly caught on and the connection improved. I was being very nice to him, but I wasn't doing him any favors by not working to fix the connection. I need to be firm, but fair, and fix it now. Cause if I don't fix it now, then when?
Going to the left is his better way, and he is so crooked to the right that it's like riding two different horses. The time has come to make Phil straight. My trainer had me bend his neck to the right, while going to the right, as if his head were a hand on a clock. 12:00 for straight ahead, and then bend in increments to 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00. At first all Phil did was dive to the inside of the circle, but you can see that after the work, and at the end of the lesson, he got much better about balancing and being able to stay out in the circle. The connection also improved because of this work. This is one more thing I need to fix now - straightness. His left side is stiff, preventing him from coming over and through his back. This is also not allowing the shoulders to move as freely as they should.
And wow, look at my right hand! ACK! It comes up and my whole right side just curls up when I'm trying to bend Phil and push him out on the circle. I need to fix that for sure. If my riding goes to hell that's not going to help anybody.
Part One of the lesson is here -
Part Two is here -
So this is our next set of homework - improved connection and suppling the left side for Phil, and gaining dominion over my right hand (and hopefully, my right side too). I'm going to try to have another lesson before the end of December, since my trainer goes to Florida for two months in January.
I'm having a blast with Phil. He's a good boy, and he's trying really hard to learn. I'm super lucky.
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