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 25, 2012

Things to remember

I had my third lesson with Julie today, and it started out wonderfully. Julie noticed how nicely Larry went to work from the git-go. Issues came up in the canter work; he didn't want to bend on the circle, didn't want to round over his topline - and when he did round, he'd break to the trot. And one time, when I felt him start to fall out of the canter and tapped him with the whip, he threw in a hissy-fit buck! Julie is certain it is a strength issue, and will only get better as Larry gets stronger with correct work. He did give me some successful canter work before we ended with some lovely work at the trot, so overall it was a very satisfying lesson.

I have a lesson journal, but decided to type my notes-to-self here. Mostly it is the act of writing/typing them out that helps stick them in my mind anyway. I'll include some explanatory notes in parentheses after some of my notes; feel free to ask about any of them or comment.

~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES ~~~~~~~~~~~

Stay with his mouth (Larry wants to curl behind the vertical or play giraffe sometimes, and I need to keep contact with his mouth whatever he does. The curling is a tough problem to fix, but after three lessons I'm already seeing a lot of progress, thanks to Julie encouraging me to shorten my reins and take more contact. He won't be able to work correctly on a longer rein until he gets stronger.)

Ask for the stretch (Given all that I said in the prior paragraph, I still need to encourage Larry to open his neck and stretch out in front of the withers, while not letting him curl or dive.)

Transitions, transitions, transitions (Walk-trot, trot-walk, trot-canter, canter-trot, walk-halt - in all of them work to keep proper contact, thinking forward, round, and properly bent on the circle. A slight leg-yield to the outside is often beneficial. If the transition isn't satisfactory, bring him back and do it again. Good transitions can only happen from good gaits. Don't let the energy die in the downward transitions.)

Keep right leg ON and put weight in right stirrup (Going right is Larry's "problem direction," and as a result, I tend to use my lower calf a lot which draws my leg up. I need to use my upper calf more, and remember to keep weight in my right stirrup.)

When changing direction through a half-figure-eight at the trot, control his haunches with my inside and outside legs

Always post on diagonal trot lengthenings

Working on a trot circle, alternate posting with a few steps sitting

Tuck my seat a bit and "sit on my pockets" (a challenge with my "bubble-butt"!)

Stay on the second track when cantering down the long sides; circle if he falls apart


Remember my "perfect bit" post? Well, look what came back to me! My friend Debbie has also been taking lessons with Julie, and had Julie school her mare one day. Julie's description of Debbie's mare in this lovely, but thick, bit? "Wet cement." So today after Debbie and I had back-to-back lessons, Julie suggested we swap bits, thinking that Debbie's mare may be lighter with the thinner mouthpiece I got from Laura and Larry may prefer the thicker mouthpiece of Debbie's bit. We'll see (I'm crossing my fingers!).


Laura said...

You so do not have a bubble butt... I do, so I'm in a position to evaluate such things!!

I think Larry needs lots of long and low, hard to do when he curls his neck up like a snail! If he's having trouble maintaining the canter, it could be because his back is a) weak; b) sore or c) both of the above. I know you're working on strengthening him generally - through in some caveletti work (when it quits raining...) - that will cause him to use his abdominal muscles, which, just like in humans, will help strengthen his lumbar spine.

He looked good yesterday - he does look like he's improving!

Michelle said...

No sign of soreness; Julie thinks that his back is weak. The good news is that he readily lifts his back when you tickle his tummy, and tucks his butt and lifts his back when you stroke down either side of his tail - easy, on-the-ground exercises.