I am in serious need of new media! The indoor arena is just so much suck for picture taking though. Also I’m not sure I can convince John that taking pictures of flat lessons is a fun time. We’ll see.
On our own I’ve been working on moving Tuck’s haunches around. I don’t think that we’ve got a true haunches in yet. We either get too much or too little or more leg yield than anything. But it’s a process. I can’t just expect him to be perfect at it. You’ve got to keep working at it and sucking and even over exaggerating.
Lateral movements cause Tucker to get a little tense. Not necessarily in a bad way. I truly think that he enjoys working on this stuff. I just think that he gets frustrated when he can’t figure out what I’m asking or how to do something right away. You can tell he’s really frustrated when he starts to grind his teeth. Luckily (for the first time ever) there was barely any grinding during our lesson.
G had us start out working on shoulder in. He says that it’s a subtle movement. You only want your bend to at about a 30 degree angle from the rail.
G: “Sit tall (G aside: as jumpers we say shoulders back. But that’s not actually what we mean. We mean shoulders tall. Don’t get behind the vertical), establish a forward rhythm at the walk. Come out of the corner at the short side, but go too far out. So that you’re almost bouncing off the wall. Inside rein creates the bend. Outside low indirect rein, pulled towards the inside hip stops the shoulder from bulging out. Inside leg for impulsion and bend.”
We did it a few times in each direction. Between each try was a lot of praise and re-establishing of relaxed forward rhythm. Tuck was better able to hold the bend off the track to the left than right. I need to get better at keeping the aids consistent.
G was very impressed with how many steps we were able to get right off the bat. He said that even if I was able to get him to go the full length of the long side I probably shouldn’t. We don’t want him to hate it. For now, less is more. G says that over exaggeration is not a bad thing at this point. Subtlety will come with time and understanding.
We gave him a break and then moved on to turn on the haunches. G says (I say that a lot but the man has so much knowledge) that turn on the haunches is a bit like an exaggerated shoulder in. Basically we’re moving the shoulders off the rail for both movements.
G: “Establish a forward rhythm at the trot. At a certain spot halt. Without too much pause, keeping the forward moment, do a turn on the haunches. Inside rein open to move his head in the direction we want it to go. Outside rein up and back to move the shoulder over. Outside leg to move his body over. You want his front legs to be crossing not shuffling. And you don’t want him turning around his bellybutton.”
The amount of pressure needed to get the correct response took me a minute to sort out. At first all I got was him backing up with an inside bend. So I added more pressure on the inside rein and treated as more of a leading rein. The next problem that we had is that the turn was almost in fast forward. G had us try again with a halt in between steps. The third time through (although not perfect) was much better. That was to the left. Still no teeth grinding. I had a very active and engaged Tucker. And then we went right. I had a teeth grinding, hollow giraffe. We eventually got a fairly acceptable turn on the haunches but he never settled into it. But that’s what practice is for.
He’ll be a fancy dressage pony yet!