Today Stella and I had our second riding lesson with my favorite instructor. We worked in the indoor arena and S didn't take any photos, so this is a "lesson journal" post for me, but you're welcome to read through. 😉
If our first lesson with S made me feel like I had a real dressage horse, this lesson made me feel like I was riding a just-started colt (filly). There was LOTS of activity in and around the barn, some of which Stella could hear but not see. She was tense, nervous, and reactive (although never to the point of being unsafe), so S's goal for us today was to expose Stella to all kinds of new things while finding effective ways to focus and direct Stella's brain. To that end, she placed a couple poles on the ground, along with some cones, like this: — o — o o o Stella and I walked serpentines through this, stepping over the poles and weaving around the cones with lots of half-halts to slow her turns, alternating with 20m circles at walk and trot. Towards the end of our lesson, we also did several long halts, encouraging Stella to stand and process things calmly. S suggested alternating riding and groundwork during schooling sessions because Stella clearly looks to me for reassurance on the ground and said that will transfer more and more to under-saddle work by doing both several times within a session.
Most of the time we worked on a moderate-length rein, but Suzan did have me shorten them at the end, without increasing contact. Thumbs on top, hands up and not held close together; encourage enough forward that she doesn't get trappy. At one point it felt like, and S confirmed, that Stella offered a bit of passage; nice to know it'll be there when it's actually time to ask for it! S also commented that Stella is going to be 'stellar..' 😁