Lesson With Joan

We had a lesson with Joan this morning. She has an amazing knowledge of classical dressage and is religious about correct training and super light invisible aids. What I love about her is that no detail or refinement is too small and perfection is the only worthy goal. This is odd, because it doesn't fit the rest of my personality.
She can quote from every old master from the last several hundred years and tell you about training debates across the centuries, various schools of training and style and what country they originated in, etc. She is responsible for my fascination with dressage, and Doug's as well. She is an older woman who's main teacher and mentor studied in Europe during  Podhajsky's time with some of the people you'll see mentioned in his books. Joan was on her way to study at the Spanish Riding School when life circumstances intervened (parental health problems) and she didn't go. Although hip problems prevent her from riding now, she's a wonderful teacher to have and a rare treasure for someone living in rural Nova Scotia. Together with Cheryl, who's experience and knowledge are wonderful, we have a great teaching team. Cheryl really knows about starting young horses and has helped me immensely. I should do a little biography on both of them, as they are both very interesting people.
I don't think Joan knows what to make of Rogo at times. She's worked with a lot of Thoroughbreds, Anglo-Arabs and other hot, sensitive horses. I know warmbloods can be very forward and sensitive too, but some aren't and Rogo isn't. He needs a good long warm up and then he's great, but he doesn't come out ready to work in the first 10 minutes. Since we usually drive Joan to the barn with us and I don't want to have her sit around in the cold, Rogo doesn't get a long warm up before our lesson starts. I'm not too happy with that. I think next week I'll go over first and then Doug and Joan can go over together.
Today worked fine over all though. Joan worked on stretching the horse forward and down on a 20 M trot circle as the focus of the lesson. Rogo actually loves to do this and will stretch his nose pretty much to the ground. If I can get him steering well and staying nicely forward in his trot he'll score well on this move. Savanah doesn't stretch as well on the circle yet (she does a great free walk), but she does a better shaped circle and keeps a better, forward rhythm.
I tried wearing spurs with Rogo for the first time at the end of the lesson. I was trying so hard not to touch him with them accidentally that my legs got stiff and although I didn't touch him my legs were moving forward and back way too much. When I did use them on him (very lightly), he responded well - not too strongly but a good response to forward or sideways. I rode Savanah with spurs, but it's easier to stay quiet on her. I may leave the spurs for a while, or just put them on for a few minutes at the end of a ride occasionally to try to get my legs quiet and working well with them.


Anonymous said…
How blessed you are to have Cheryl! Those types of trainers are rare these days.

Each horse is different and only you know your horse, if Rogo needs a good long warm up then that's what he needs. It's good of you to recognize this and not push him to what you think he needs to be doing.
Joan sounds extraordinary and a great trainer as does Cheryl. You are really lucky to have found not one but two good teachers.

I had Erik(my warmblood) for 15 yrs. and he was the hardest horse I've ever ridden. He had two speeds slow and stop and not even spurs got him moving. The only thing that worked for him was for me to carry a crop. I never used it but if he knew I had it then he would actually put some effort into a trot! Have fun with your lessons.
Carol said…
I really appreciate the feedback. This is my first warm blood, and I'm back to riding after manu years away (30!), so I don't have a lot of background to draw on when trying to figure things out with him.
Dom said…
Joan sounds like my kind of instructor.
Anonymous said…
oops, was meaning Joan, being so knowledgeable in classical dressage, but Cheryl is good, too!
Jan said…
Carol, It's nice to hear about your instructors and it sounds like both are really great! Also, you are very thoughtful and aware of yourself and Rogo, so it is a very good combination all around.