- First up: horse doesn't get in front of my leg or respect leg - she's either got a nice tempo but with no impulsion, or too speedy.
- She needs to learn to take the leg to go forward. But forward does not equal fast - you can go forward into a collected gait or a downward transition or whatever - forward means activating the hind end.
- But we currently can't activate the hind end without changing tempo.
- So, in other words, I still don't have a half halt.
- I need to be more preemptive about putting my leg on before she goes against my hand. Which means basically any time I know I'm going to do anything, be prepared with more leg.
- For the record, Isabel was really very fussy and did not want to play. "Giant Bitch" was the description I used. #scientificterms
|and here's another pic of the ever-photogenic Chatty Cat, bc why not. don't you try to tell me that seeing those whiskers doesn't improve your day at least a little bit!|
- Through the warm up trot I aimed to ride her deeper and rounder bc she was very tight through her topline.
- Then we worked on flexing slightly out, then flexing slightly in, then going straight, rinse repeat. Not unlike our lesson with Stephen Birchall last spring. Dan was very clear that the flexion should be slight and only just from the poll - not to the point of getting actual bend in or out.
- And then we would think "passage trot" down the long side to develop more collection (this was a shit show every time ugh) before heading up a long-ish line of trot poles on the other long side.
- Dan wanted Isabel staying round and collected through the poles - not hollowing and flattening out.
- When she did this right (which she did, a few times) it was LOVELY.
- Otherwise... she got beat haha. (kidding.. sorta)
- All of this work was in an effort to develop thrust and impulsion and get the horse in front of my leg.
- The second big focus was getting Isabel straighter. Particularly while tracking left.
- Dan noted that Isabel has developed a nasty habit of swinging her haunches away from the whip instead of just going forward or activating her hind end (which is why she's getting tapped in the first place).
- He wants me carrying the whip in my outside hand until further notice.
- (And yes, I basically school Isabel exclusively with a dressage whip. On the flat and over fences. For reasons.)
- We worked on the same exercise as last week of building from collected walk up to collected canter without stirrups, using the size of the circle to help control speed instead of my hands.
- I needed to think "haunches in" through this whole process - starting at walk all the way to canter.
|no media from dan lessons, but hang onto your hats bc there are shit TONS of photos from our latest dressage clinic adventures. including gratuitous face shots of isabel looking totally zonked bc obviously haha|
- It's hard bc it feels super unbalanced and out of control and Isabel's head is flinging around every which way and all I want to do is pull the inside rein and create bend that way...
- Even tho I *know* that what she's doing with her head and neck are just symptoms of what's happening behind me.
- So we just tried to ignore the head and ride the haunches, with my inside leg stretched DOWN at the girth and my outside leg reaching as far back as I possibly could (Dan: "Right now your leg is about 2/3rds of the way back to her flank, I want you reaching her tail"), with torso still stretching UP and not twisting.
- The point of doing this without stirrups is to keep me honest about staying centered over the horse, instead of getting twisted around or letting the horse throw me wherever she wants me.
- All the while, my seat still needed to stay active, needed to push the horse's back up. Dan repeated this again and again - my seat shouldn't just follow, it had to show the horse where to go.
- That's still really hard for me - separating all my individual body parts into independent aids that can be applied or be silent in tandem is something I'm still working on. And my seat is absolutely very far from being independent. But I'm starting to feel an inkling of what that might be like eventually. And I guess this lesson is just a stepping stone down that path?
- And, as a somewhat brief aside - it was interesting to feel where I sat as we circled left with my outside leg stretched alllll the way back trying to push her haunches in. I was actually sitting left, on the inside. Perhaps you'll recall - basically the ENTIRE lesson I took with Grant Schneidman last March was devoted to getting me sitting more on the left side. Methinks this is alllllll related haha.
|and ok fine, here's a teaser pic from the actual ride too - just as a little reward (?) if you've made it this far haha|
- Anyway, the jumping efforts were just a continuation of the flat work.
- Drop the stirrups at walk, establishing haunches in and collection up into canter, pick stirrups back up, and approach any of the three random singles spread about the arena, then drop stirrups and go back to circling after the fence to reestablish the haunches in at collected canter. Rinse repeat.
- Going off the right lead was surprisingly easier - it was easier to get the right positioning, the jumps came up better, etc. Surprising bc that's the lead we had about 95% of our refusals off of... Go figure.
- Left lead was tricksier so we spent more time there, ultimately finishing by going through a bounce grid a couple times.
So it was a pretty intense and physical lesson. Have no fear tho - there were lots of walk breaks for both of our sake. The no stirrups work was hard for me, and the haunches in and collection stuff was legit hard for the mare (who had ZERO problem letting us know). But Dan was pretty clear that he wasn't just having us do it for the sake of doing it. It's not just torture.
Rather he sees these issues as our biggest weaknesses. The mare resists getting in front of the leg, and resists traveling straight, thus the root of all our stadium woes. So if we can just fix it, everything should be gravy, right?