I don't usually write much about my lessons, because I find it hard to write about minutiae in an interesting way. However, I do enjoy reading about others' lessons, because I always learn something. So here goes - with loads of pics and some video.
We've been warming up at the walk with tons of bend and changes of direction. I've mentioned that Taran likes to tilt his head instead of actually bending, so getting true bend through the entire body - including from the base of the neck to his nose - is a focus of the whole ride. He also will be great going one way, but if I work too long one direction, he gets stuck and finds it very hard to change his body to bend in the other direction. So I ask for a lot of changes of direction to start with.
Right head tilt instead of bend. This apparently creates giant weird neck muscles.
Here's a video of our super awkward walk warmup. The interesting take-away for me is that it's OK to hold onto the right rein until he does what I'm asking for (with appropriate ask of inside leg, of course), but when I give, I need to follow him and keep the contact, instead of just throwing it all away as a "reward". In other words, keep the tension in the rein, but allow his neck to straighten.
As we moved on to trot, I'm looking for more of the same bending, but *I* have to be steadier with the connection. If you listen to my trainer's comments, there are some notes about better contact - and of course, more inside leg. Always more leg.
Falling out on right shoulder works great (for him)
Better into the contact.
Haha, just kidding.
OMG WTF WAS THAT!!?!?! (I have no idea, because there is literally nothing there and we'd been past that spot like 50 times already. Weirdo.)
I need to be quicker with the corrections. I can't let him flop around with his head tilted for half a circle - I need to ask for the bend with my inside leg, back it up with fingers, and then relax when he responds. Oh and FFS don't pull back on the stupid reins. Here's the video of our trot warmup...
If you pull the horse into the new direction of bend, you lose the connection and he gets hollow. Duh.
If you push him into the new bend by using your new inside leg to ask for the change of direction, you get to keep the connection and all the other nice pieces too. Also Duh.
3 loop shallow serpentine - note nice connection and left leg asking for the change of bend (at least, I'm going to pretend that's what my left leg is doing, because otherwise it might be doing some strange yoga move on me)
Wait, maybe not...
SCREW YOU LADY I HATE DRESSAGE
If you want to see the epic objection, it's near the end of the video. But to get to that, you have to enjoy some actual pleasant changes of bend and nice trotwork (for us).
I had issue with the canter videos (mostly watching myself flop around was painful) and we just did a smidge of canter at the end, so you get a few stills. The upward transitions are still sticky and a bit of a toss-up (literally, he tosses his front end up), but the canter itself is getting stronger and more balanced.
Horse looks decent, wtf left leg?
Focus on the horse and not whatever my leg is doing.
So there you have it. From walk warm-up, through iffy trot to nice trot, to iffy canter. This lesson was really all about the connection and getting bend by owning one rein or the other (in a nice way), and that's my main takeaway and what I will continue to work on. We have some really nice moments in the trot, and we're definitely getting to be more consistent. Canter and walk... eh, I'm sure those aren't scored much so I really don't need to care for the schooling show this weekend, right?