First things first – I’m sorry to those of you who don’t have Facebook or Twitter and are missing my short updates lately. I would love to have more time to write, but I don’t have the time right now to do lengthy blog posts. I even found lately that I’ve fallen into the habit of coming home from work (or the barn) and fiddling with my phone like a zombie until bed, while my kids watch videos. Craig and I have recently instituted a rule that we’re going to give the girls a limited amount time on electronic devices and then we’re all going to unplug and play games. So far it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m glad we’ve started this. In a few years when the girls are teenagers they’ll think we’re too lame to hang out with, so we’d better spend time with them while we can.
So I’m sorry about not being able to post more on this actual blog. Right now my updates are limited to 140 characters. I seem to be able to get that done more often! So follow me on twitter @Dressage_Mom or on Facebook (there’s a link to the right of this page over there somewhere, or just search for “dressagemom”) to get the latest.
Ok, on to the lesson!
Here’s the written run-down (or if you just want to watch, skip down to the video). We did a little warm-up then my trainer had me do four loop serpentines, but instead of rounding the serpentines she had me try to make the turns more square. During each turn, she wanted me to step into my new inside stirrup and encourage Phil’s new inside hind leg to step through and bear more weight. Just this simple exercise brought to light that, while I may have fixed the issue with my right side being too tight and forward, now my left side is too loose and giving. Even so, the exercise was helpful and Phil was very compliant.
After that we did some leg yields. He’s getting the idea of them, but he doesn’t always want to come off my leg when I ask. I’m still not riding with a whip because it upsets him too much, but it might be time for me to start carrying it once in a while. I find that I could use a little tap here and there to reinforce the leg when he doesn’t listen. There were times when he came very nicely off of my leg and really used himself well.
Next we did a fame lengthening exercise where I let the reins out and Phil followed the bit down and stretched his frame out. The leg yields get us both all jammed up (and me twisted at times) so this really helped him to come a bit more over his back. I did this at the posting trot, and then at times I sat a little to get him to carry me while his back was up.
After a little walk work, it was onto the canter. We worked on some counter canter, and then we did one flying change each direction. The first one was really disorganized and he got a little frantic, but he worked it out. The second one was much better but it freaked him out a bit because I really had to give him a poke with the spur to give him the aide to change. But it was clean and after a moment of “OH MY GOD” he came right back and got to work again.
So, a side note: There was a dog in the arena for my lesson. This is a nice dog, and he is a rescue dog. He’s a herding dog who, until this home at the barn, hadn’t lived around livestock. His instinct is telling him that he really should chase and herd the horses, and when he was first adopted he would bark and run at them a lot. He’s gotten a LOT better in just the few months that he’s been at the barn, but sometimes I think he just loses his head and comes after them. Well, that happened in the canter work, and he ran after Phil and barked. A few months ago Phil would have lost his mind and never gotten it back. Now, with his new attitude towards working, he was able to deal with it and go right back to work. I was so proud of him! I think it helped that I had it in my mind that he was going to be fine. And so he was!
Next we did some shoulder-in to ten meter circle exercises. The shoulder in to the left is pretty good, but then the circle after it going to the left isn’t that great. My trainer wanted me to have him push off from the shoulder-in onto the circle, and exhibit a bit of power in his gait. The shoulder-in right isn’t as good, because my left side/rein isn’t solid enough for him. We did get the circle on the right a little better though. Something to work on for sure!
Then we did more frame lengthening/stretching exercises, but this time at the sitting trot. He gets a little jazzed at the sitting trot, because he’s anticipating doing a lengthened trot, so I had to be very careful about how I handled this exercise. Phil was great about it and at the end his trot was fantastic. He finally made a solid contact and it felt great! Then we did some more leg yields and they were really good!
Then onto his favorite – trot lengthenings! We did a few of them, with my trainer adjusting my seat and his speed. In the middle of these, the dog ran after Phil again. He was less upset than the first time, and got right back to work with minimal drama. At the very end, he did a beautiful lengthening! It felt fantastic!
My trainer says she is very happy with where he is now. She likes everything she sees and thinks work on the things we worked on in the lesson. Except the flying changes. She suggested I wait until our next lesson so we can work on them together. And that’s just fine with me! Also I should continue with the shoulder-fore at the canter work, and even add a little leg yield at the canter.
I hope I can have another lesson next month. My goal is to show him next year at recognized shows, and hopefully get to Arabian Regionals. If I can get someone to take me, I want to hit the Chagrin Valley Farms winter schooling show series. I think that would prepare us very well for next year’s show season.
I think Phil looks a lot better. What do you think?
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