We had our lesson with Kelly and since we missed Cindy this week because of the beach and next week because she's out of town and are going to be jumping 3 days next week, we opted for dressage. Plus dressage is fun!
After a few minutes of putzing around the ring (which is totally a dressage thing because while we were hacking around in the field he was super forward!) and a few reminders from the whip and my leg, he was actually a lot more in front of my leg today. Yay! Kelly noticed too. So we worked on keeping a steady connection. She explained the triangle today again and for some reason it made more sense in my brain today. I think of it as more of a tricycle and "training wheels" but whatever. Same point. ;) So basically I need to keep a much steadier connection in the reins. She showed me the weight she wanted. Which was A LOT more than I was used to. So for Dan, she wanted less than that weight, but still more than I was used to. We called that 5 lbs for the sake of having a starting point. She told me that I was to start with 5 lbs and could hopefully lighten to 4 and maybe even 3.5 but not any less. And I shouldn't get heavier than 5 lbs really, especially not up to 20 lbs. BUT that whatever he did with his head and wherever it went, I needed to keep the 4-5 lbs of pressure and follow it. When his head went up in the air or behind the vertical in an effort to evade, the answer was not to wiggle it back down or pull it up. Duh.. I know this. But apparently I don't. The answer is to ride the triangle. I don't care where the point is (His tuna head) and am focusing on the other two ends of the triangle (his hind legs). The evasion isn't so much from the head as from the hind end losing engagement. When he gets wiggly, squirmy, and laterally all over the place, it's because the hind end has lost engagement and impulsion. So I don't fix it by grabbing at his face, I fix it by increasing the engagement. And with Dan, I do that by rapid fire heel taps or repeated whip tickles. Go means Go! However, I cannot let go of the connection when I push for forward. The whole goal is to teach him to ride into the contact and create that "hanging head" feel. Again.... I know all this!!! Argh!! This is why I both love and hate dressage. It know it. It's simply. It's just not easy. My stupid body takes over despite my brain screaming "No you fool!!! You're doing it wrong"! Anyways, so when he evades, the answer is forward off the leg. Duh... it's German... "Create Round from the leg, not the hand". Duh. The other trick to doing this is lots of lengthen and back and lengthen and back and lengthen and back. But not throwing the connection away.
So we started with some lengthen and back and steady connection. Oh, and my hands are too narrow. I need to keep them wider. Which in my brain makes sense because... I'm riding a tricycle at this point. We need those training wheels. If I narrow my reins, I'm asking him to be a bicycle which is much harder to balance. We're not quite there yet. And in Kellys' brain, this gives him a little more room so that he doesn't get claustrophobic and go up and is actually better equitation anyways. So we did that and he was good in the beginning. Then he got bored and tried some tricks. Which included putting his tongue all over the place. All I could see was tongue flinging around and crazy eyes. ;) So I didn't think that maybe he had his tongue over the bit, but he did. So we fixed that and tightened up his noseband. And it was like magic. He suddenly quit being a goober and went to work. I laughed and said "give him time.. he's smart. He's realized he's been foiled so now he's formulating plan C". hee hee. But he didn't. We asked for a nice solid steady connection and he did it. We got some really lovely trot work. By the end it was actually sproingy! (yes, that's a word!). Quite nice!! And he was soft and elastic and we had a good connection. And he was happy in the work. :)
So then we went to the canter. We didn't do much but he was good. Same thought process and same aids more or less. The only difference was that I was maybe being a little too following in my elbow in the wave of the canter. Kelly wanted me to think about opening my angle in my elbows as my hips went forward rather than just letting my elbows swing forward with my hips. It did help him get rounder and more underneath himself. It was quite a nice canter!
So yay! Lots of fun. So this is why I think he's gifted. Or that I'm just babying him too much. I think he is bored with the "baby" work and comes up with games to entertain himself. But once we challenge him with more proper and difficult work, he gets into it and thinks and really works quite hard and nicely at it. And the antics stop and he becomes lovely!
It was a great ride. Lots of fun and very encouraging and helpful! But sniff... it's kind of hard to think of my baby boy growing up!!
Of course then he does stuff like this.... and makes me giggle. He also nibbled on me after our ride because I was talking to Kelly instead of telling him how amazing he was! ;)