We had our second dressage lesson the other day. And it was awesome!
Trainer M brought me a dressage saddle to use and borrow for the week. It fits Tucker pretty good but it’s not the best fit for me. John and I were down in Buffalo for the weekend and I sat in a used M. Toulouse (I think Aachen) at Stagecoach West. Now my butt doesn’t really want to sit in anything else.
I’m very thankful that M trusts me enough to leave one of her saddles with me. I very much appreciate it as dressaging in the Childeric was not a fun time.
It was much easier to hold the proper position with a proper saddle. Shocking I know. My dressage muscles were a bit better but started out a bit tight. At least they weren’t making me want to cry this week though.
We focused a lot on my position again. Shoulders back, imagine you’re bringing your shoulder blades together. Stretch up tall, you aren’t a hunter anymore, stop leaning forward. Stretch your legs long, drop your weight down. Thumbs on top, elbows at your side.
We also started the basics of asking Tucker to respond and to use himself properly. M complimented my correct use of the spur but said he’s not responding as much as he should be. The nudges I was giving were basically asking him to maintain the pace and weren’t getting him forward enough or much at all really. Ask more forcefully. Insist on a forward response. A few jog steps are not a big deal. You do not want him to ignore your aids.
She wanted me to warm up with contact but not really asking him to connect or collect. Just focusing on my position and getting to flex. Coming to a corner she wanted me to create an inside flex with the rein a bit early and then back it up with inside leg for the turn. She very quickly realised that Tucker is not so great to the right. I explained to her the hip and should issues we’ve been having Chiro K work on.
For now, to the right, all she wants us to mostly focus on is the inside bend. Build those muscles without complicate it by worrying about connection. Just make sure he continues to go forward. It seems to me that even though I’m bending him right he’s still tilting his head to the outside. Perhaps K need to come out again and take a look.
She was quite impressed when we went left and Tuck was bending and connected and on the bit without me even asking. She said it was basically the perfect picture. But there’s one thing I can do to improve it. She told me to massage the inside rein with my ring finger. Keep the outside rein still but connected. Continue to massage the rein and inside leg to keep him moving forward. At first he didn’t have a clue what I was asking (Truthfully I had no clue what the purpose if this was either). He moved around and played with it a bit. Keep massaging. He leaned on it. Keep massaging. And then he gave to it and rounded through his back. Be still. It was really cool. I’ve never felt it quite like that before.
Next M taught me how to do downward transitions that were smooth (or at least would be eventually) and that promoted continued forward motion. Keep the inside bend. Inside leg to push him out and capture with the outside rein. Be still with you upper body. Don’t pull back on the reins. She compared it to landing a plane… the plane slows down and touches the ground and continues on. It doesn’t stop in the air touch the ground and continue on. We want smooth fluid movement through transitions.
We moved onto the canter. This is where I found the saddle the most, hmm, I’m not sure the right word. Not really uncomfortable just not right for me. It’s still better than the Childeric though. Left was no big deal. It took me a bit to figure out the downward transition but once I felt it I understood better (than from trot to walk) what I was supposed to do. Of course when we went right I basically had to start all over with the bending. Once I got him going ok at the walk and then trot I asked for the canter and got the best right canter transition I’ve ever had from him.
I’m loving the dressage!