Thursday, May 17, 2012

Last Few Lessons

The two lessons following the last horse show were spent focusing on improving our flat work. We spent a lot of time on the trot. In the lesson following the show I think we did an hour of just trot work. In that lesson she did very well to the left as far as giving me a good pace and getting on the bit and staying there without much maintenance. The right was another story. The right is the bad direction for a both of us. I tend to let my right shoulder get too ahead of me, so we did some exercises to fix that such as riding with my hand on the back of the saddle. She was also refusing to bend and drop her head in that direction. Renee was having us do the exercise where I bring her head in as far as I can and then let it go, as we had done at the canter a few weeks ago, but to the right she was not having. Finally my body couldn't take it anymore and I had Renee got on to work her magic. She got the same resistance, but after about 20 minutes of trying some different tactics she started to get some really nice stuff. She had me get back on and told me lateral half halts worked much better than our previous tactic. By the time I got on Renee had her going so beautifully I didn't have to do anything. She just stayed going along perfectly. In between lessons, I did not have much luck getting the head set as nicely we Renee had been able to. When we had our next lesson the following week though I found out why. I did my warm up and asked for the head set the way I had been doing at home. Renee pointed out that my issue was my hands and elbows. She said I needed more bend in my elbow to make a smoother line from elbow to hands to reins. I also needed to lift my hands to achieve this. Once I did this she went right on the bit and into a beautiful head set and trot. What a huge difference something that seems so small makes! We also did the same work at the canter, but I had locked my elbows a little to much at this gait. Renee gave me an exercise I call the Superman to fix this. Every few strides she had me put my arms straight out in front of me to loosen my arms and body and get the feeling of where I need to be. This week, it was finally nice out on a lesson day so we were able to ride outside. We started with our flat work, which Renee had though was much improved over all. I was still not quite right with my right shoulder, so we did the hand on the back of the saddle exercise again. Then we moved on to some courses. Renee didn't give us a warm up jump, but instead had us jump right into the course, so our first course was a bit iffy. I called it practice LOL. The next time through the course was a little better. We had a few rushy spots, especially on our bending line. Renee then gave us a second course. The course started out well with a nice even pace through the first three then got a bit rambly. Our final jump was a single diagonal, which had been part of our bending line, going in the opposite direction now. We were cantering along quite nicely, then about 5 strides out she started to suck back and stared down at the jump. I could feel she wanted to stop, but I put my heel in her and kept my focus up and she went over. I was quite proud of myself, as was Renee, because her sucking back would normally cause me to go with her and result in a stop. After this Renee had me do an exaggerated position with my shoulders very low, but my chest and chin up. She had me do it down this one line that she was getting particularly quick on to show my that that position slows her down better than sitting up or going to the reins as I had been doing. It made it ten times better. Then she had me do my first course again and wanted me to do whatever I had to in my position to make the course nice. Well, that was a bit of a fail. There was basically nothing nice about the course. She got quick in spots, took some short and long distances, etc. I did the course again and this time I kept my eye and position steadier and worked on the lower position. This was our best course so far. She stayed at much nicer pace all the way around, including a better bending line. The only thing that neither Renee or I liked was our final outside line. She had rushed a bit into it, but I got her to hold and not get the long distance coming out. We worked on that line by itself a few times and finally got it nice and smooth with good distance. Overall, it was a successful lesson and I feel confident going into our next show this weekend.

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