Sunday we had another dressage lesson. I told Jeanne about our Very Forward Warmup experiment, and she said that we should try it for the lesson. We did maybe 10-15 minutes of trot at whatever speed Paddy wanted, where the only requirement was for him to keep his nose between his shoulders (that is, stay straight). He wanted to look around a bit but Jeanne was adamant that we are working now, distractions are not allowed. Poor Haffie. Toward the end of the trot, we had a nice forward canter in each direction where I let him find his own balance on a 20 meter circle. It felt like we were zooming around, but Jeanne assured me it didn’t look like it.
After a walk break, we got to work. I was concerned it would be hard to get him back to a more manageable speed, but after a few squares, 10 m circles, and some walk laterals, he was very willing to steady his trot rhythm. Jeanne commented that he was really tracking up and was much more over his back than usual, so we both agreed that the full-speed-ahead trot warmup seems to be the way to go! He’s still throwing his haunches left whenever I ask him to move off my left leg, like in a leg-yield right, so we worked on making sure he’s moving away from my leg rather than into it.
We also did some leg-yields on the wall since he didn’t seem to be getting the leg-yield to the wall concept, and that was much more successful. Surprisingly, he was great to the right with plenty of angle and moving off my left leg (whut?), but to the left he got stiff in the left rein and tried to throw his left shoulder. We just threw in a couple of squares to the left and got the shoulder back under control – it’s like the magical exercise, I swear.
We moved on to canter, and our transitions were better than ever. Canter left is really coming along – we were able to do rudimentary canter squares on the left lead, which of course got him to rock back, stand up, and not fall in. The right lead is much, much better, but it still feels like we’re zooming around, and he’s definitely less balanced on the right lead. I also actually RODE the downward transitions instead of letting him flop into a trot, and although we have 5 or so steps of ick, I’m able to put my leg on and ask him to rebalance relatively well.
Toward the end, we worked on halting straight and square. The straight is getting better… some of the time. The other times we look sort of drunk as we stagger to a halt. I love having mirrors, but it’s also horribly obvious when your horse zig-zags around. Oops. At least I can laugh at our attempts? I worked really hard on keeping my weight even, through my reins and seat and legs, so that he wouldn’t have the slightest excuse to be anything but straight. He’s super sensitive when he wants to be and will use my being uneven as a reason to flop around. I mean, it’s a perfectly legit reason to flop, lol, but it’s hard to be precise with your body! Of course, if I ask it of him, I should ask it of myself as well, right?
So much to work on, but getting better every time!
Posin' like a pro!