Saturday, January 5, 2019

Finally... a lesson.... sunshine!!!!!

Yet again the weather has wreaked havoc on riding plans, but today ended up being fun anyways. :) We were supposed to do XC at Ashland today with Beth but it rained sooooooo hard Friday.... (like... not only had it rained all day every day all week just about, but on Friday morning it monsooned... flooded the basement and the garage.... flooded the roads... flooded creeks and ponds....) and it was already so wet and saturated, that Lucy had to close the XC field til Sunday. Luckily last night the rain finally stopped and it got super windy and today the sun was out and it was super windy, so hopefully things will dry quick. But anyways, point being... the XC clinic was moved to Sunday. Which is smart...but I had already made plans for Sunday. So I asked Beth if she could teach me today anyways and if the arenas were ridable at Morning Run. Turns out they were, and I needed to adjust Atlas and Mighty anyways, so....  we went to MRF for a lesson. :) We opted for dressage since it's been awhile and I'm panicking a little (or a lot) about the recognized dressage show. And it was great!

I had a feeling that Beth was going to want to get on Dan and sure enough, after I warmed up very briefly she went to get her boots so she could ride. I whined and said..."But it's been soooooo long since I've had a lesson, so... plllllleeeeeeeaassssseeeee will you make sure I have enough time to get taught on him too"?! She laughed and me and rolled her eyes and said "Yes.. I won't ride him the entire time"! And she didn't! And I'm glad she got on him. She felt what I was feeling, whereas previously she hasn't really felt it. And this time she thought it felt a little different, like... more left hind than anything. Watching him, he definitely showed it when she turned to the left from the right and then I definitely saw it tracking left. It's odd though.. not really a lameness, more like a skip! Again, like he wants to break into the canter, but this time it looked more hind end skippy than front end. Almost like stringhalt but super super subtle. So then she rode him haunches out.... and it was really obvious. Almost like he was catching his stifle though. Anyways... it wasn't bad and is still subtle, but something is definitely not quite right. So she played around some more and I explained to her that I was feeling like there was nothing in the left rein and we were hanging on each other on the right rein. I felt like I was having to literally hold his head right to keep him bent right and that he was not wanting to bend his barrel right. And tracking left, he still felt tipped to the inside for me. She had me get back on and walked me through it. She totally made my day though because she said it wasn't bad and was just a few little tweaks we had to do. And at the end of my ride she said that he felt better than the last time she had gotten on him. When I asked "better soundness or better in general?" she said  better in general! Which totally made my day as I've been struggling and having to ride on my own a lot recently with the weather and holidays and people being sick. I honestly feel like it's been two months since I've had a lesson. So the fact that he didn't feel like a train wreck was awesome and even more awesome was the fact that she said he felt better!! YAY!!! But she did say that she did feel the hind end and it was different and worse than before. Sigh... 

We kept riding though because it got better as we went and we were also trying to figure it out. So...the focus was on me simplifying things. I'm getting way too analytical and overanalyzing and over thinking. Ha ha... #thoughttornados. Basically the gist of it is...

  • Tracking Right: bring my right shoulder back a little, keep my hands even, and think a little more bend. When I could see his right eyeball and not the left browband snap he was bent correctly. But it's not a hanging on the right rein connection, it's a half halt and give back to neutral connection... half halt give.. half halt give... 
  • Tracking Left: Keep him straighter in the neck. No over bending and cheating. To me he feels a little like he's still tilting and flinging that right shoulder out, but it gets way better when I ride his neck straighter. I also need to use my right rein to check him but not hang. Even if I half halt and give (But don't abandon... go back to neutral with a steady contact.. not dropping) every stride... I have to give. I also can lift my right hand to do the half halt but then I need to drop it again. I need to lower my right hand and lift my left hand. And don't abandon the left rein. It's almost as important so... keep a steady connection. And keep myself upright and my left trapezius engaged. 
  • Watch my hands. The left one wants to drop and the right one wants to be too high. I need to even them out. And don't let them cross the neck.
  • Stay upright and don't collapse in my transitions. Up and down! Think of how I have to ride him up into the canter to walk transitions and ride that way in the trot to walk and canter to trot transitions too. No collapsing! Keep the bend in the downwards! 
  • In our canter to walk transitions... again, ride him up into the walk, keep the connection steady and even vibrate the reins a little to keep him supple, and don't change the bend too early. When we do the downward, keep the bend to help keep him supple.
  • In the walk to canters... same thing. Keep the bend but don't overdo it. Slight flexion, not more than that. Don't over think it. Just ask for the canter. And don't collapse. 
  • Don't let the canter get too big. A 2nd level canter is much more collected and slower than I think. And it's a LOT of leg to keep that impulsion and collection and not get fast or strung out or fall behind my leg. 
We got some really nice work. Our canter got kind of lovely!! It's a lot slower than I think though. We got some nice transitions too. Beth had us work on the canter to walk 3 loop and it wasn't terrible. We had some really really nice ones, although way too many walk steps in between. But that will come. I tend to get into the movements and lose the purity and correctness in an effort to "do the movement" and I need to focus on the correctness and reason for the movement and then the movements will come. (That was me, not Beth, but I'm sure she was thinking it). Then we did a few attempts at the 3 loop serpentine counter canter. I explained that when we were on the left lead, I had a hard time moving him left to the rail and he wanted to fly back to the right. She said it was straightness and me hanging on the right rein. Sure enough when I rode his neck straighter and half halted and GAVE and half halted and GAVE, it got sooooo much better. So... we quit with that. 

So yep... YAY!!! So grateful to get instruction again. I feel like Lisa from the Simpsons when they close school... "GRADE ME.... TEACH ME.... GRADE ME!". ha ha. But I hate being left to my own devices for too long because the thought tornado's take over and then.. mayhem! So it was great. And Beth was right.. it wasn't too terrible, just a few tweaks and things got quite nice. 

And.... it's nice watching her on him. My boy is fancy!!! I mean, he was fussy at times and he was hitchy at times, but when he was going smooth... DANG!! He's nice :)  

No photos... I don't know why I didn't get videos of her on him either. 

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