|Cute bay horse. No need to zoom in.|
|Lesson screen shot!|
She watched us for a minute and said, "Well, you look way better than last time I saw you, so whatever you're doing is working."
Of course, she immediately followed that up with an ongoing laundry list for us to work on.
- I am a long torso-ed person with long arms, so I need to keep my reins really short. I try to cheat and have long reins by dropping my hands and widening my elbows and any number of strange nonsensical habits.
- To fix this, she reminded me to ride with my elbows by my sides and slightly in front of my torso. Not only does this help with keeping a solid connection and straight line from elbow to bit, but it also engages the front of my core and helps me sit more correctly, which makes my aids more effective.
- We moved on to leg yields on a circle. I can get Courage to wiggle around each direction, but I don't have solid control of his hips and shoulder and he tends to be tight through his body, so the lateral work will definitely help us.
- To fix us, she had me focus on just moving his hips in and out a few steps at a time. I had to wait until I felt his legs crossing underneath me, then immediately reward him and go straight a few steps. He was already starting to get the idea when we moved on to...
- Leg yields down the wall.
- This was a whole new concept for us, but the idea is to let the wall check his forward progress so he is forced to listen to my leg and move sideways. She warned that this is very mentally hard, especially for green horses, so we are supposed to do it every session but only a couple times each direction.
- Then we trotted. Trotting is not always the best for us.
- She had me focus on holding my hands level, no matter what. As soon as I drop either hand, Courage twists his head and gets fussy. He also is struggling with the concept of bending through his rib cage, which makes serpentines difficult. In her words, we need to "make his sandbox bigger". I need to widen my hands and add a lot of leg to emphasize forward without making him feel trapped.
- Cantering was fun too.
- We cantered a circle in each end that was as small as he was physically able to deal with, then as we headed down the long side, I pushed my hands forward and let him learn to take me forward on a bigger stride. The idea was just to let him roll along because if I ask him for more forward at this point, he tends to get tense in his underline.
- Downward transitions. I know I said we've had a couple ok ones, but they're pretty consistently bad and I still wasn't really getting through to him.
- She pointed out that at this point, the little man just doesn't physically know how to use his body in a downward transition. He's not trying to be bad, but he doesn't have the slightest idea of what I'm asking or that it's even possible. We're trying a new strategy--every single downward transition is on a tiny circle right now. It gives me enough leverage to help him and the actual movement should help him start to figure out what it's like to do a transition without tensing his entire underline and sticking his head straight up.
|He's always been a jump jump horse. What is this "race" thing?|
I hopped of Courage, hosed him down, and jetted out of the barn. It was noon, but I was off to the races!!