Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Great Lesson

I had a really good lesson with Cheryl on Tues. before leaving for Shelburne (work meetings). I put together the stuff she'd been teaching me, with the input I'd had a few days earlier from Joan, and it all worked. Rogo was soft and forward, starting to bend in the corners, more responsive to my legs, etc. We did trot / walk transitions, trotting, and started some leg yielding. We got a few decent steps! This was a new exercise for him. 
Then we went to work on canter transitions. He did them very well. I hadn't planned to hold him in it, but he was going so well I asked for a circle to the right and after a couple of tries he did an excellent (for a sorta baby) canter circle. It felt like he was really trying to please and give me what I wanted. This is a developing trait for him, but one I had hoped and somewhat, on my more optimistic days, expected to see growing in him. He is very self confident, is a herd leader and quietly believes in himself (pushes back, but benignly), but he is also a huge people horse and demonstrates this to such a great degree that it's often remarked on. He'll walk away from food to be with people. From day one he has followed me wherever I went if he is at liberty, without ever being taught to do this. So it isn't surprising that he would develop the trait of wanting to please under saddle. Mind you, I'm just beginning to see the first traces of it and I may eat my words, but I think that once 'learning' becomes a habit that he'll be a willing and engaged partner. For the most part, he hasn't been a bad partner in training at all, just an indifferent one a great deal of the time -  as in "yeah, I guess I'll do that, but only to humor you" :) And his confidence makes him laid back when snow comes off the roof in the winter or when having a lesson in 100 km / hr winds, so he's the best partner an inexperienced woman my age could have when deciding to start a dressage horse!
Anyway, it was a great lesson / ride and I was very happy with him. Cheryl was so pleased with our lesson that she called and left me a really nice voice mail telling me that we'd done well and roads were now opening up to us or something like that (we've been stuck on the corners for way too long). All in all it was a great session. 
I think what I need to take away from this is that I process what my teacher(s) is/are telling me in different ways. Cheryl has been telling me for months to stop hanging on the inside rein. She also tells me to keep my position, use my legs, etc. but the problem for the most part was the rein. All good stuff and I've been trying really hard. Then when Joan was here I told her I could use help with the corners. She watched me ride them for a few minutes and then broke it down - as I'm coming up to the corner, keep him on the rail and going into the corner by looking to the outside, weighing the outside stirrup, etc. (he was cutting them off and counter bending). Then as I'm going into the corner, inside leg at girth, outside leg back, etc., etc.... You get the picture. I'd been focusing so much on my reins that I now realize I was almost paralyzing my left rein. When I took the focus off of that, I did it more correctly.  So, lesson in summary - drill the needed weaknesses (within reason, which we did) and then let it go a bit, focus on other pieces and let my body feel what's needed.

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