Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back to Dressage

The feedback we got at the jumping clinic was that Izzy needs to accept the bit and be more forward. Since that seems to be a theme for us, today we pulled out the dressage saddle and got to work.

Izzy started out pushy and even a little tense. She's going through a phase where she'll have a decent walk, but when I pick her up and ask for trot, she tries to fling her head up in the air and run on her forehand. I'm not really sure where this is from; it gets better if we work on it, but I haven't gotten it to go away yet.

Another issue I'm working on is getting my hands out of my lap, holding a steady contact, and riding Izzy into it. Conveniently, all these things seem to be tied together. When I hold a steady contact, the pony mare is able to trust it and balance on it, which smooths the transition. Even if she does attempt the head-fling-and-run, by holding the contact and stopping her with my body, I am refusing to play her game and focusing on the issue: the balance.

Finally, when cantering, I have apparently over-packaged and over-rebalanced her stride to the point that she doesn't really come under herself and balance. Instead, she has some sort of weird up-down motion. Whoops. That's what I get for only sort of knowing what I'm doing and sporadically working with trainers. Today, we focused on letting Izzy develop a lovely big canter and really carry herself around. While she did that, I tried to keep a steady contact, maintain my posture, and let her find her own balance.

All in all, I'd call it a good day. We started rough, but she (we) improved as we went along. At the end of the ride, she was pretty comfortable with the contact and was able to maintain a nice balance at all three gaits. Not fancy, but good. Hopefully someday I'll have another dressage lesson. This would all be easier if it was free, right?


  1. I'm no expert, but what you're doing sounds right to me, and it got results, so yeah! The canter sounds wonderful. I think it would be a good idea to let her do this often as you work through this.

  2. Sounds like you really have some constructive things to work on until your next lesson. I don't think you've done any harm with over balancing her canter, don't be too hard on yourself. Now you are just ready for the next step, which is to maintain that balance in a bigger, more forward, ground covering canter. You're definitely the type of rider who is going to do her homework so I'm sure things will get better and better!

  3. You have all the same problems as me! Except for the canter in which I need to bring my horse under herself instead of not engaging her hind end. I have to say that you sound like a much better rider than me though! I definitely have a lot to work on before I'm where I want to be at and improving from. (First level) Oh well. We'll keep working on our 20 metre circles and diagonals until we have a sort of nice training level test then I can think about moving up. I can't agree more about how much easier it would be if it were free!!!!!!!!

  4. Any chance she's recovering from OCD surgery? I'm new here & this is the first entry I've read...but my 6 y/o QHxArab makes these IDENTICAL movements because he's just coming back from surgery. He's getting monumentally better the more he works & builds muscle, but the movements you're describing are spot on for what he started pulling when he went lame & we realized he needed surgery. Since it became learned throughout the diagnosis and recovery that he does that = I get off in fear that I'm killing him, now he tries to pull it all the time. (Read more here: http://designerhorses.blogspot.com/2010/10/leaps-bounds.html) I push him forward, cluck, growl, spur (it's a sight, let me tell ya...) and when he's really stubborn I put him into a shoulder-in to make him focus on SOMETHING else other than being pathetic. X-rays and post-op exams prove he's FINE so the only reason he's doing it now is for empathy.

    Good luck!

  5. You could try a little shoulder-in or leg yield into the trot to displace her hind and a little to keep her from stiffening against the upward transition.

    As for the canter...it happens. Riding her well forward and forgetting about the frame for now should help. It seems you have sorted out a solution already on your own.

  6. Thanks all!

    Jess-she has not had surgery and I think she's fine. Now I feel a little paranoid, so I guess some research in order now.

    Jean-Good idea. We'll give that a go next time.


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