Monday, August 1, 2011

Dressage lesson 7/29

At the rate I'm going, I'll never get the vids together from the dressage lesson, so I might as well post what I've got while it's still more-or-less fresh in my brain.

I started off on Saga, and we worked on tempo. In a nutshell, I've been running him off his feet in an effort to get him to reach for the bit instead of curling behind (which he is good at). Instead, I slowed him waaaay down to what felt like a Western trot - but I had to do it all by using my core and slowing my posting with more "hang time". Shockingly, by riding him with my body instead of slowing him with my hands, he came round with his poll being the highest point of his body (yes, that was sarcasm). I merely had to use a slight half-halt on the inside rein and a little inside leg to get him to circle, he was super light and balanced. We then worked on nudging him ever-so-slightly forward into bigger, more active steps. I don't feel like we made much progress into the bigger steps, but by the end we were keeping a consistent tempo instead of rushing around, and my abs were feeeeeling it!

We also did a bit of left lead canter. I am hollowing my lower back too much, which results in a "scooping" action with my seat, and pushing my shoulders forward a bit. I visualized making my lower back flat by tightening my abs and sitting on my hip pockets, and then lifting my chest up right below my bra strap (interesting imagery, but hey, it worked!) Saga was lighter in front than he's been in ages, and very steady in the tempo. Looking at the video, it looked kinda disorganized, but maybe I'm just used to watching him run around? I dunno, it was definitely different.

Fuzzypony was having a super-hard time with Reddums, so we switched horses. Red was very stiff to the left, and he also generally has a hard time slowing his trot tempo down without gaiting. It's challenging to get him to trot cleanly from the walk without shuffling a few steps - envision trying to get your car to go from first gear to third without revving the engine too much or stalling out. It's a sweet spot to make it work. There's the same problem going from trot to walk - if you ask just a smidge too hard, he slams on the brakes to downshift instead of doing it smoothly. Anyway, we worked quite a lot on keeping him soft to the left, which is especially difficult because I tend to hold less steadily with my right hand than my left. All of my horses are steadier on the left rein than the right, so I know it's me rather than the horses, lol! I also did a little sitting trot, which was described at first as "too busy," but tightening my core made all the difference in keeping me from slithering around. The big take-away from this for me was that I need more core strength and a slower rhythm on every horse I ride. Lots to work on for sure.

Fuzzypony and MC both ended on good notes and I think had good rides overall. We definitely want to get Carol out again next week (she's booked this week and besides, the highs are around 108 every day this week). We did an hour lesson for the three of us and I think that in this heat, at our level of fitness that's about right. I'm looking forward to the next ride!


  1. I think the first lesson is always the most difficult, but it sounds productive. Eyes on the ground are always helpful! As far as Red goes, I'm guessing he'll have to trot the dressage test rather than gait? I don't think I've ever seen a gaited horse do dressage.

  2. Yes, you have to trot in a dressage test. Red has 6 speeds - walk, foxwalk, foxtrot, trot, canter, and SPRINT AFTER THE HOUNDS!!! He has a perfectly lovely trot (you can see here) and has been to a few dressage shows in the past. The judges think he's "cute". Shocking, eh?