To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Awesome sauce!

Lance and I had a lesson with Julie on Thursday. As soon as she saw him, she remarked that he had regained some weight; it was nice to have confirmation. I had already warmed up, so we went to work. Julie specifically brainstormed exercises that would maximize our benefits for the amount of energy expended, given that Lance is an energy-conserver at the best of times and oxygen-compromised at the worst of times. One of her suggestions was to capitalize on the energy he offers when I shorten my reins, and when he needs a break (often), use it to practice free walk on a long rein – no in-between.

I've been feeling confident that in spite of the set-backs, Lance's training has slowly progressed; our lesson confirmed that, too. His walk-canter-walk transitions have gotten more dependable, so we worked on refining them. Using the whole arena and doing simple changes from one lead to another, Julie had me ask for a bit of opposite leg yield before the downward transition to get him straighter.

Then we worked on making Lance's trot more adjustable by working over three trot poles laid out like bicycle spokes. Taking the inside track requires a shorter, more collected stride; taking the outside track requires more energy and reach. Lance hardly placed a hoof wrong, rating himself extremely well and requiring the outside ends of the poles to be spread farther apart to challenge his surprisingly large stride. Then she had me use the physical advantage the poles gave us for downward and upward transitions right after and right at the last pole.

Finally, we worked on adjusting Lance's canter stride on the circle without poles, using the open side of the circle to lengthen, then asking for collection when approaching the side of the arena. Julie said that she saw Lance truly "sit" for the first time during this exercise; exciting stuff!

Julie had me shorten my stirrups a hole because of my tendency to ride with my legs too far back and not keeping good contact with the stirrup pad. She really liked my hand position; I'm getting better at pushing them forward instead of pulling back.


Terry said...

Sounds like an excellent lesson. I think that more instructors should give stretch walk breaks, even if the horse isn't compromised. We tend to push past what the horse is comfortable with and then stop. Always better to stop on a good stride. Kudos to you two for your sympathetic approach to working with Lance!

Michelle said...

Thanks for your comment, Terry! I am fortunate to have a good instructor when I can fit in a lesson, and lots of good reinforcement from blogs like yours. :-D

Theresa said...

Good for you and Lance! This makes my heart so happy that you two are learning and progressing together in spite of some setbacks.

Michelle said...

Thanks, Theresa; it make my heart happy, too!