I know I talked about a lesson that I took last week, but I haven't had the time to sit down and write about it. I'm going to try and bang this out at work while it's a little slow.. we'll see how that goes!
So the night of my lesson it was a bit of a circus in at the barn. If you've watched any of my videos you'll see that the stalls open right onto the arena. Usually when I ride it's not a big deal because there isn't much going on, but that night it was a full house. During my lesson there was another child's lesson, two other people riding, someone lunging, two people at opposite ends of the arena cleaning their stalls with the wheelbarrows outside of the stalls (and therefore in the arena right on the track) and it was during feeding/watering time. Phil was completely distracted, but this gave us good material to work with because my trainer said "It's time to teach him how to accept and respond to the half-halt, and keep him from blowing through your hand".
First, she fixed my seat. It had only been three months since my last lesson and already Phil had gotten me pitched forward in my seat again. Then she said that I needed to exaggerate my body movement when asking for the transition from the trot to the halt. Like, really lean back, very deep in my seat, and try to use less rein. I needed to insist that he go all the way to the halt, then really praise him. She said I could even say, in a very low voice "Whoa" so that he would get the point of what I was asking.
Since there was so much for Mr. Distraction to look at, it was a perfect opportunity to do lots of transitions from trot to halt. At first I wasn't using my body enough, so my trainer said not to be afraid to REALLY exaggerate it, and that I won't ride it this way forever, or even for very long. Just until he gets the idea that a half-halt off my seat means something.
He was starting to really get it, so my trainer told me to now ask for truly half of a halt. As in, do the half-halt but not let him quite halt all the way before asking him to push off again into the trot. This is for building strength in his haunches and back, and for getting him sharper off the aids. This worked really well, and I've been using it a lot since.
Then we did a little canter work. Phil's canter has improved immensely since I got him and my trainer was really happy with the rhythm. The departs are even pretty decent, so we didn't work a lot on that.
Lastly, I wanted my trainer's opinion of the lengthenings that I'd been working on. Before I had her get the camera out, I set Phil up and asked for a lengthening across the diagonal, and it was a really nice one. Of course, it was the best one of the night. My trainer said "Oh! Well, there you go." Then I had her video some more diagonals, but it was hard with so much going on to get a clean diagonal, and I don't think the video shows him doing any particularly good ones. I'm not going to post the video unless you guys really want to see it.
All in all it was another great lesson. The half-halts and half-of-a-halts have really been great. Phil is really starting to respond to just my weight. At the beginning of our sessions I'm still exaggerating my seat and weight, but towards the end I find that I can be more subtle and still get a reaction.
This weekend is another schooling show. We're doing Intro B and C. Hopefully it will be another successful show!
Whew! Got that done before the boss came around. Some days you're just lucky, I guess. :)
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