Coach G and I have decided that we’re going to stick to dressage lessons for the foreseeable future. Tucker knows his job over fences. I’m pretty comfortable over fences now (when I’m not making stupid mistakes and forgetting things like keeping my heels down). And we’re thinking that working on the flat might be good for my hips and back. Give them a chance to heal and hopefully strengthen.
This might seem counterintuitive. It’s not like dressage is easy or smooth sailing. Need I remind you that Tuck is lazy AF. Also, he doesn’t quite have those buttons. I’m not even sure I have those buttons. It’s going to be hard work but we feel it will be less intense/less stress on me. We’ll see.
I am not a DQ. But I want to be. I’m starting to feel like my training has been a little remiss. It’s frustrating to me that I don’t know what aid to use when and where to get the response I’m looking for. So much about riding has just been instinctive for me. I missed the finer points or perhaps I’ve just forgotten.
So the next few lesson posts will be my ramblings on trying to sort out our dressage ride and trying to cement what G has said into my memory.
First off, I rode outside… on December 22nd… in Ontario Canada… in a t-shirt and light sweater. WTF Mother Nature? I LOVE YOU THIS YEAR!!!!
We worked on a large circle. G had me start out by establishing a forward rhythm at the trot and keeping to the same consistent circle. He pointed out that I was working to hard to rise and needed to drop into my heels (god damn it!!!) and use my thighs more. In an attempt to avoid pain I’m doing dumb shit like that a lot. Once it had been pointed out and I fixed it things got way easier and still no pain. Take away from that is I do dumb shit to avoid pain which actually ends up causing pain and makes me ride like a loser. Ride properly!!!
We came back to the walk and worked at keeping a nice forward rhythm. I do that by staying loose in the hips and following the motion. G chided me for using to much of an indirect rein with the inside rein. I need to only use the indirect rein when I want to move his shoulder over not to create the bend or keep him on the circle. There should be space between the rein and his neck. Use the inside leg to create pace and outside rein to capture the energy (gas and breaks sorta speak).
He wanted to work on haunches in but said if we get more leg yield than haunches in that’s ok. He explained that the difference is basically in the bend. For example if you’re travelling to the left you want a left bend for haunches in and a right bend for a leg yield.
This lesson was huge on aids and how they worked to get a certain response.
For ease of understanding what I’m trying to say assume that the whole lesson was on a left rein (it wasn’t but it makes it easier).
Inside leg at the girth to create bend and to keep forward motion. Outside rein pulled towards the inside hip without crossing over his neck, and make sure you keep it low (raising it up will ask him to move his shoulder in. NOT what we want). Inside leg to outside hand. Inside rein to keep the inside bend, it can also be lifted to move the inside shoulder out/keep it from falling in. Outside leg back to push the haunches in. As the horses back leg moves you want to be squeezing to get him to cross over.
How did it go… we ended up with a lot more leg yielding than haunches in. But it’s a start. Tucker is still trying to work out how to move his body. Right now to create the bend he’s not really breaking through his body. It’s more like a long plank trying to turn a corner. He either doesn’t understand yet or simply just can’t do it. As we progress I imagine that it will get much easier for him. It probably doesn’t help that I’m trying to work out my aids. Which is probably why we had more outside bend than inside bend.
I’m not really sure what the thought process was but next G wanted to do a bit of reining back. Establish a forward rhythm at the walk on contact. Pick up a trot keeping the contact. Come off the circle for a few straight steps, halt and then back up. Then he had us do the same thing without the trot. He was looking for Tucker to move his leg properly (ie. front left with back right and vice versa).
The aids for now: Halt, release the pressure a smidge and then even pressure on the reins and pulses with the legs to keep him moving back and straight. G says that dressage riders use the aids the same way the horse moves (left rein with right leg and right rein with left leg) but not to worry about that yet.
We ended with that. Tuckers brain was thoroughly taxed. I always know when I’ve pushed him past his comfort zone because he’ll start to grind his teeth. G says that’s a form of evasion. I don’t really notice a difference in the ride though so I’m not so sure. For Tucker it seems more like a thinking habit. You know like those kids that stick out their tongues when they colour.
Any tips or tricks?