Hee hee. Fun lesson with Kelly today! Despite wanting to take advantage of the jump course from the jumper show the night before, I decided to do a flat lesson. Partly because I had been wanting to flat with Kelly as I really enjoy her teaching, partly because I hadn't had my dressage lessons with Cindy in two weeks for her vacation, and partly because we were jumping Sat and Sun at the clinic. So we did. And I'm so glad! It was an excellent ride and so helpful!
Kelly hasn't taught me and Dan on the flat before and it had been awhile since Fleck even. So she started off by watching me warm up a little bit. She said that he was quite round and through, if inconsistent at times, but that he was a bit sluggish. Ha!! No kidding. She said I was working way too hard. Yes. Much yes! And it's been a struggle since day 1 and Cindy and I have been working on it too.
So she had me start off the lesson with some tactics! :) It wasn't shock and awe. Different, and perhaps better for his big ol' Irish self. She had me pick up the reins in one hand, sink my heels way down (she said she didn't want to be responsible for getting me launched again!), and to tap him with the whip. Either on his butt of behind my leg. Not hard... but not too wimpy. But persistent! Tap, tap, tap, tap.. until he trotted. And NO leg. Then lots and lots of praise. And after a few times, we progressed to a good solid trot, not just a trot. We did both directions. After a few times of doing that he got to where it didn't take 12 taps with the whip to get him picking up the trot. And then it almost even got to he'd leap into the trot as soon as I picked the whip up. :) Or the reins. :) Yay! So then we progressed to keeping a nice forward trot without me having to leg him every step. We'd get the trot, and he had to keep a happy swinging forward momentum until I asked him to walk. If he got sluggish, tap with the whip. If he didn't respond, keep tapping persistently til he surged forward. He's a smart cookie and it wasn't too long before he was trucking around like a rockstar.
Now... The problem is as much me as him. So I had to really focus on not constantly asking with my leg. It was probably harder for me than him. :) And he is a bit lazy, so we had to remind him some.
We got a really lovely trot though. And when he was more consistently forward, the contact was more consistent and happy. Yay!!!
We also worked very briefly on the canter. It was lovely too. She did give me a brilliant thought that worked for me! I mentioned that he gets so long on the right side and throws that shoulder out. So instead of just thinking of shortening that side, she told me to bring my reins in. She had me riding with wider hands than I'm used to. Mid thigh to mid thigh, which "is in the rulebooks". :) So when we're tracking left and he's throwing that right shoulder out and getting long on that right side.... I just bring both hands to the left, effectively bringing my right hand to his withers and pressing in, encouraging him to move that shoulder over, and then opening my left rein, giving him the open door. Duh!! He really moved that shoulder over easily. Yay!!
So yep.. we had a great ride. Now to just remember to ride this way EVERY RIDE!! It's so much less exhausting on my part. ;) And he moves nicer. And like Cindy has said... if I'm constantly using my leg... how can I ask for the extended trot?? Or bend?! Yay. Now my leg can mean "more" or "bend" instead of just "for the love of all that is holy keeeeeeep trotting"!. :)
Oh yeah.. we did a little hack before hand because I was actually EARLY! :)