Our first real lesson after the HT was with Dan. This was kinda a pleasant surprise, since I'd mostly given up on the idea of any more lessons this month. So score!
He wanted to know if there were particular concerns or issues. Yes! As always, yes there are! I told him about our dressage test and the numerous remarks on 'could be more round' and 'tension.' I also mentioned our lateral balance concerns.
'i'm perfectly balanced, thankyouverymuch. it's all the rest of you that have issues' - isabel
But he actually broke it down even further than that. He said that we first need to establish actual steady contact. (Yea... this is still a struggle). His exercise: bring the walk down almost to halt, but maintain a steady rhythm. The aids are very quiet and soft: extremely stabilized hands, soft through the shoulders, and steadily closed legs (had to actually tell me 'no pony club kicks' - ughhhh). And it needs more leg than I think.
The idea here is to feel each footfall. He pointed out that horses will usually fuss quite a bit at first (Isabel proved him correct here), but that once they get steady you can 'push' the contact forward with your hands and encourage them to go deeper, and transition up to trot.
Same idea in the trot - super stable hands providing a firm contact, with lots of leg (particularly inside) to push the horse into the bridle. Every time Isabel flung her head (or dove down, for that matter), the correction was more leg immediately. When she softened I should too. As she got steadier, I was to keep 'pushing' my hands forward to encourage her to go deeper.
We had quite a few very nice moments through all this, and I think I've got the feel for what he's asking. He also pointedly said not to drill the walk-at-nearly-halt exercise, but that it was a good thing to do for short bursts.
And then, just like that, it was on to a quick right lead canter that was actually half way decent, and then on to jumping. The jumps were still set up from last week's lesson with C, but he moved the center vertical down the A-C centerline to be closer to the crossrail... So, uh, slightly more complicated - tho he claimed otherwise.
He had us trot the crossrail a few times before adding in the left turn to the vertical. He wanted this done in 5 strides, meaning you had to turn pretty much immediately upon landing. Isabel was a tad sassy - and actually seriously played a bit between fences our first time through the combination - but jumped very well. I was actually trying to ride with C's voice in my head: "lift your hands, slow your seat, allow her to make decisions." And it worked really well.
Then both fences became verticals and we changed directions, still trotting with 5 strides. We got 6 once or twice, but Dan suggested that the turn itself was fine, I just needed to get Isabel covering more ground.
Then back to the first direction and cantering in left lead to the vertical at F and turn to center vertical in 4 strides. Left turns are tough for us because of our left drift problem, but Isabel remembered this lesson from last week and nailed it. And also proceeded to nail it coming back the other direction again.
So, oddly enough, this lesson wasn't really about the jumping for us. Isabel felt great, and really wanted absolutely minimal input from me. I set up our pace going in to the first jump, then just kept my legs on and inside rein open. She did the rest, and did it well. Yay mare!! I feel like she's just matured so much this summer - it really blows my mind.
The real takeaways are the flat work exercises. Hopefully I'll be able to recreate the same feeling on my own!
And, in the meantime, while we were warming up waiting for Dan to arrive, I got in a little more 2point practice. Didn't really expect much here (3min... boo), but want to get in a few more practices to at least raise my total minutes up to a more respectable level.