On Tuesday night coach G gave us a flat lesson. I LOVE flat lessons! There’s so much more to work on and places to improve on the flat. Even when jumping a course, flat makes up a larger portion than the actual jumps. Friend C and I warmed up our horses in the lower hunter ring. Tucker was feeling good again. Flowy and tracking up. At the start he took a couple of short steps at the trot to the right. But again I think it was because he was anticipating needing too. The rest of the ride perfect. Once we were warmed up we moved over into the annex ring that had been cleared of jumps. This is not riveting stuff by any means feel free to skip ahead to Thursday night. G had us start off at the trot with regular following contact while he finished up the lesson before ours. When he turned to us, he chided me for having no trot and just plodding along. So I took more feel of Tucks mouth and applied more leg. G explained that we would be working on packaging our horses for an equitation class and then for a hunter hack. He asked us to take a stronger feel of their mouths and when the horse gives and reaches for the bit to give with the hand. Tucker can be stubborn but I spent many lessons last year doing this exact thing with coach J. Once Tucker realized what we were doing he was more than happy to oblige and get to work. I love my horse!! Once he figures it out he puts his game face on. I think that G was really impressed. I’m pretty sure that he’s never seen me ride Tuck quite like that. Plus Tuck is large and not bendy, that kind of work is hard for him. I don’t think that G was expecting me to be able to get him to do it so easily. From there we did some transition work. He had us halt and drop our hands low while keeping the contact until the horse gave to the pressure. G says this reinforces what we were asking them to do at the trot. For upward transitions he told us to “bite with one rein” to keep them from throwing their head up. I found the if I squeezed the inside rein a millisecond before cuing and then asking for the trot Tuck would stay rounded. Next G had us go back to an equitation trot with a strong feel of the mouth. Once we had them packaged he wanted us to close the hip angle and advance our hands going down the long sides. This would cause them to reach for the contact and extent into a hunter hack. On the short sides he wanted us to sit back up and repackage them. After the lesson I gave Tuck a good rub down with liniment and stuffed him full of cookies. Thursday night C and I warmed up in the main ring. Again Tuck took a couple short steps but was fine for the rest of the ride. We then moved down to the sand ring where G had a quasi-gymnastic set up. We started off by trotting (ugh!) back and forth over a cross rail and then halting on a straight line. The first time through Tucker was behind my leg and put ZERO effort into jumping. G said that Tuck basically bowled through the jump. I gave him a smack and was stronger with my leg to solve that problem. Next G had us canter the cross rail on a left rein, to the blue vertical and then roll back to nothing. It went ok, but our medium canter was a little on the slow side. Course 1: canter left rein to cross rail, to blue vertical, rollback from nothing back to the blue vertical, lead change, to green vertical, bend yellow to blue in a 5 or 6. I was having some serious trouble getting Tuck in front of my leg. After landing from the cross rail I dug my spurs in and gave him a smack. He was not impressed! He threw a couple bucks in protest. G told me to start again but I had to get him to help me fix my spur first. Tucks buck pushed the spur up over my boot protector. Brat! The next time through we had better rhythm. Rollback to the blue, be sure to bend/turn so that Tuck knows he’s heading to the jump (not just circling) and fill the outside rein for straightness out of the turn. We missed the lead before the green. Bending in 6 was no problem. G said that it was better but still rhythm issues, next time through he wanted me to change up the canter. Course 2: same course but with a circle in the middle of the bending line. Leg on, rhythm to the cross rail. Build the rhythm through the turn to the blue. Jumped it fine but with the change in rhythm I had trouble seeing the takeoff spot. Cleaned up the rollback. Built the rhythm again. Got the lead change no problem. Lost my stirrup and broke to a trot on the circle but was able to pick up the canter and get a good distance on the out. G critique: Over all a good course. He could really see that I struggled finding the distances when I played around with the canter. I’m way more comfortable staying at the medium canter all the way around. Something to work on. Takeaway: make sure to actually bend through a rollback, get Tucker in front of my leg before the course starts, play with the canter more.
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