Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dressage Lesson with Kelly

Since my jump lesson with Kelly got cancelled on Thursday and she was here this weekend at Ashland, I decided to join in. I didn't want to do a XC lesson mostly because we've done so much at Ashland already in that field I didn't think I'd get as much out of it. So we did a dressage lesson. 

It was great! We worked on the same stuff as the last lesson. Contact with even reins, no "knitting" his head down, and sitting on my bum. But we built on it. 

We started off making sure he was in front of my leg and since we had talked a good bit he was a bit lazy so we re-instituted forward. Then we worked on my leg and seat. Kelly said that my pelvis tended to tip too far forward and down. So I really had to think about lifting it and sitting on my seat bones. And then we had an epiphany... She mentioned that I needed to get rid of the curve in my lower back some. She asked if when I laid on the floor I was able to keep my back flat. I told her no, not without lifting my knees up towards my chest. OHHHHH Wait a minute!!! That totally explains why my seat is better in my jump saddle with the shorter stirrups. It allows my anatomy to create a flatter spine when my stirrups are shorter and my knees are more in front of me. Okay... well, doesn't really help me, but it does at least help me feel better about it. :) So... if I really thought about sitting on my crack... for lack of a better way to put it, it helped my position and my leg. I did feel like when I sat like that, my knees were flopping and my legs were flopping. BUT... this is okay. This is actually good. I tend to pinch with my knee so the loose knees and open hips is a good thing. Eventually it won't be quite as floppy. So okay, cool. We didn't worry about my toes at this point. 
Then we went on to my hands and my upper body. Kelly had me ride a 3 loop serpentine and to start the turn, turn my shoulders, then change my leg, then change my hands. It was amazing though how much more separated movement I felt with my butt and my upper body when I was sitting on my seatbones. I didn't realize quite how much I have been perching. Ugh...  And then to help with my hands, Kelly gave me a very special and very expensive stick. Ha! It was a lovely little twig. I had to hold it straight and keep my hands on it, thus keeping my hands the same width apart as my shoulders. While keeping my elbows at my sides and owning them, I steered with the stick. Which by the way, also kept me from "knitting". So that meant that when he was leaning in, I could take my inside hand and move it to his wither and move my outside hand to the outside. BUT... I wasn't allowed to let my outside hand creep in. The other key factor though is that I had to use my leg first! So.... to create bend, it's inside leg, then inside hand to the withers, outside hand to the outside but firm elbows at my sides, and then it was lovely. If he went and through the outside shoulder to the outside, then I closed my outside leg and brought my hands back to the inside, with the outside hand touching the withers and the inside hand to the inside laterally. But it was always a "T", never a "V" with my stick in my hands. It was pretty helpful and Danny just clocked right along on the bit happily. 

We even did it at the canter and got a fairly nice canter. The elbows and the stick helped me keep a connection and the rules helped me from getting frustrated at him and hanging on the right rein. 

The other thing we worked on was the transitions. He throws his head up and I soften the contact. Kelly said that if I kept the contact, he would be more inclined to stay soft because he woudn't want to "hit my hands" so to speak. So we worked on that. When I closed my legs and he threw his head up, I closed my legs more or added stick and kept my elbows at my sides. After a few transitions he realized it was nice to stay soft and on the bit and then I could stay soft. 

So yep. Very helpful lesson. I like having the concrete rules because it keeps me from getting too frustrated at when I'm not doing or doing and not supposed to be doing and what he's not doing despite me doing something I think I'm not doing.... and it just keeps me from getting worried that I'm doing it wrong and changing it instead of giving him a chance to settle into it. So yep! Good stuff.

Then we went for a short lazy hack. :) 

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