Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lightbulb moment

Last night we had another amazing dressage lesson. I’m telling you guys, having the right trainer makes all the difference in the world. There’s no way Paddy and I would be making so much progress if it weren’t for her.

As per usual, we worked on getting him off the left rein and moving away from my left leg. Walk and trot “squares” have been really helpful, because that gets his shoulders moving and makes me ride with an actively supportive inside leg. We’ve been working on shoulder in and leg yields, with varying degrees of success. To the left (moving away from my right leg), he’s responsive and tries, although we can’t consistently hold the angle and straightness. To the right (moving away from my left leg), it’s a different story.

Here’s what it feels like to ride it:

Imagine you’re going straight down centerline, prepping to leg yield right. Your horse is straight; you can see it in the mirror. You relax your right hip and nudge with your left leg, asking him to move away. Instead, he throws his haunches in left (the damn mirror doesn’t lie), and then he starts half-passing left, INTO your leg pressure! It’s the EXACT opposite of what you’re asking for, so you bump him with your left leg. He straightens, and you bump again. He throws his shoulders right, flexes his neck left (despite a steady right rein), and sort of drifts over to the right. Bah! You’re out of space in the arena, time to try a shoulder in to the right, down the long side. Only, all you get is haunches in! You pony-club kick with your left leg and he straightens out, but no amount of begging, pleading, and kicking can get his shoulders away from the wall. You drop back into the walk and sort of manage to make it happen as you crawl down the long side.

We went over body position. I’m not the greatest rider out there, but we made sure I wasn’t hampering from moving right. We know his right hind is the less strong leg, so crossover that direction is hard for him. Still, he was just NOT getting it. So we worked on other things – stretchy circles (we might actually have one, sort of!) switching between posting and sitting trot, canter departs, canter-trot transitions (for now, I am to do canter-walk except in tests so he doesn’t get too “bargey” going into the trot), strechy canter circles… and then at the end of the lesson we went back to laterals.

As we came down centerline for the umpteenth time, I cued for a right leg-yield… and something in his little brain must’ve clicked. He started crossing over INSANELY much. Granted, we were doing more of a messy half-pass (with bonus haunches leading right) instead of a leg yield, but HE WAS MOVING AWAY FROM MY LEFT LEG. We actually made it to the rail just after B, and the crossover I could see in the mirror was something I’ve never ridden before. It was one of those moments where you can just feel the horse do magic things under you, and you hope it never ends. Jeanne was yelling “Yes, YES!” from the rail and I was telling him “Good Boy!!!” with every step. I could tell he was SO pleased with himself, it was as if he was saying “See mom? I get it! I finally get it!” We quit on that, amongst lots of pats and praise. What a good pony!


What it felt like

18 comments:

  1. Yayyyyyyyyy Paddington pony!!! I love moments like that, makes all the other stuff we put up with the rest of the time worth it :)

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  2. Cute! I love the "aha!" moments they have!
    Shy went through a phase where she would only sidepass when being ridden. . . she is a strange horse.

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    1. Haha, maybe some of the side pass stuff would rub off on Paddy? I'll trade some of his forward for it!

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  3. Awesome! Love lightbulb movements!

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  4. So happy that you and Paddington are becoming a team!

    You put in the work, and so deserve it, especially with the setbacks you've had. It's very inspiring to watch it happen. :D

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    1. It's so much fun to become a team, it really is. I have missed that SO much for so long.

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  5. Cool! I bet it was great to have the mirror at that moment!

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    1. I was having a hard time riding AND watching the mirror, lol! It actually makes me want to have my trainer ride him, just so I can watch!

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  6. Hooray! Gotta love those lightbulb moments!

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  7. I love it when they get it and are proud of themselves!! New neighbour has mirrors, I'm excited to be horrified by myself! Congrats -- Encore is tough to move off the right leg, so the few times I've gotten to ride, I've just messed with it at the walk. He figured out the very beginnings of haunches in, I don't think it's solid yet, and of course it's messy, but he learned what I wanted and tried hard and did it both ways!

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  8. THIS is what ,makes dressage my most favorite thing in the world! Those moments when everything suddenly clicks and all that hard work and frustration pays off (even if it's only a teeny tiny first step in the right direction)
    *happy sigh*.

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