Tuesday, August 26, 2014

night rider

It's getting dark so early now! Sunset is around 7:45... sigh. 

I usually get to the barn around 6:30 after work, and we usually finish by 8ish. But tonight I wanted to ride w a friend who was teaching lessons until 7:30... So we got our first full-dark night ride since last spring. At least there are two big flood lights in the arena!

My goal for tonight's ride was to keep chippin' away at a steady contact. I opted to ride without gloves for the first time in years, thinking they may be a part of my rein slippage problem. I've been clenching with my fists to try and hold onto my reins (which are themselves perpetually loose), and it's probably been introducing a lot of tension into the equation. 

So no gloves. Not sure if that was the deciding factor or if we're just seeing the results of all this practice, but we had some nice moments! 

dramatic lighting is dramatic

Other focal points included:

  • my hands stay in the 'batters box,' as my dressage trainer would say
  • the weight of my arms as they hang from my shoulder should aid in contact, rather than floating my upper arms in front of me and tensing my biceps / locking my elbow
  • open & relaxed shoulders, tucked-in belly button
  • looonng relaxed legs - closing with my calf instead of my heel
  • upright spine & EVEN shoulders - no collapsing/leaning down on one side or the other

If all of these pieces were in place, it became a matter of encouraging Isabel to move out freely forward, exaggerating the inside bend when necessary, and supporting with the outside rein.

Granted, there were only fleeting moments when I was coordinated enough to make that happen... But I'm a very systems-oriented person, so if I can just understand the 'how' behind contact, eventually it will stop being so elusive!

Isabel puts up with my less-than-stellar selfie attempts. i am smiling internally, i swear lol

I added in lots of transitions, particularly focusing on the downwards transitions. Dan wanted me to really set her up for them in our last lesson - having her on an exaggerated bend and half halting right before I ask. We got a few decent transitions tonight, and at least one from trot to walk where she didn't completely hollow out - yay!! This is cause for celebration since we pretty much can't change anything - direction, gait, you name it - without Isabel popping up above the bit.

Dressage is definitely our weakest phase at the moment, but I'm enjoying working on it, and seeing improvements in our jumping because of it. As my hunter trainers say: jumping is only really flat work with some obstacles thrown in. If you nail the flat work, the jumps take care of themselves. 


  1. Great points to remember! I'm adding these to my mental list, thanks!

    1. Thanks! Tho I suspect your execution of these points is lights years ahead lol :)

  2. Everything you're saying about contact sounds right to me. It's such a huge AH HA! when you finally get it figured out. :)

    1. great thanks! it's nice to know we're on the right track

  3. My trainer says the same thing!

    1. nice! they make it sound so simple sometimes...


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