Well I’ve been back from Florida for a week now. So far Mother Nature has been really nice and really bitchy. On Saturday we hit 14 degrees. It was beautiful and made me want to ride outside. Too bad the rings are still wet and frozen. Today we’re expecting a huge storm. Boooo!!! I’m still planning to ride tonight so hopefully it won’t be too bad.
Coach G was away so coach J (who is also friend J) stepped in. She had us start out at the trot on a left rein and coming off the rail on the long side to do a large circle (between a line of jumps). She wanted us to focus on proper bend and maintenance of rhythm. Making sure to ride inside leg to outside rein. We did the exact same thing at the canter. After a few times around she had us come off the circle and jump the second jump in the line. Fill the outside rein to straighten out. Same thing on to the right, fishing with coming off the circle to jump the diagonal fence. Make sure you’re straight and fill the outside rein.
From there we moved onto course work. She incorporated the circle between jumps, bending lines and roll backs to help reinforce her warm up exercise. Consistent rhythm out of turns and riding inside leg to outside rein. Filling the outside rein was key for straightness. I have nothing to report really. I didn’t even think about lead changes, they just happened. We didn’t have any scary distance. Everything just worked. The only problem we had was Tucker being a little too enthusiastic about his job. A couple times he’d attack the jump and then drag me away on landing. Not ideal when we’re in the tight indoor arena. He seems to have an issue collecting/compressing his stride after some jumps. J says it might have something to do with anticipating lead changes. That could be as it seemed to happen most over a diagonal jump with a swap from left to right (our not as good way). In any case we’ve got something to work on.
I am not a dressage rider. I am envious of all of you that have a better understanding of the ins and outs of flat work. Lately I’ve read a blog or two that has talked about transitions (I’m so sorry I can’t remember who’s blog(s). If it’s yours please feel free to link in the comments). I’ve never really thought about transitions as being that important. We walk, we trot, we canter. Yes of course we do transitions. But are they accurate?
The answer is yes. They can be. I used the letters on the wall as my guide planning no further ahead then what transition I’d do at the next chosen letter. Working walk at A, halt at E, trot to B, etc. I’d use my voice and his response was almost instant. Yes some canter transitions were a little rough. But if we both had our shit together they were perfect, even halt to canter. And yes some downward transitions from the canter were a little yucky. That’s fully my fault. I apparently still have a little PTSD from our fall back in November (it was downward transition from canter to trot on a right rein when he tripped and we fell). But over all I’m happy with how we were communicating.
Sunday flat lesson:
Funny enough coach G built on my transition ride from the previous day and showed me just how NOT accurate we really are. Or more to the point how low my expectations and feel are. He had us start out at the trot. Establish a good forward rhythm with contact. No problem. Then G asked what I thought about the trot and why.
Me: “I think that it’s good… breath… He’s… breath…using his backend… breath… coming forward… breath… nicely.”
G: “You’re working to hard! You shouldn’t be panting through your response.”
Me: “Oh. Duh. Right.”
G explained that we can’t carry our horses the whole way around. There has to be self-carriage. When we put them in a position and a certain rhythm they have to hold that. Yes our leg and contact will always be there. But we shouldn’t have to work so hard to keep them holding what we’ve asked for. G had me randomly do two walk strides and then trot.
And this is where I show G how much of a pushover I am and realize how NOT accurate our transitions are.
Me: “I’m having trouble counting two strides. I can’t tell which strides are transition strides and which strides a true walk strides.”
G: “There’s no such thing as transition strides. You just made that shit up. Those shuffling steps are not “transition steps”. Those are you allowing cheat steps and not demanding accuracy and immediate response to what you’re asking for.”
Me: “Oh. Duh. Right.”
From those bombshells we moved onto shoulder in and turn on the forehand. Neither of which were perfect. But both were way better than the last time. With far less histrionics from Tucker and only minimal teeth grinding.
Don’t you just love it when your coach lays down the obvious and exposes your dumb?!?!