Joan is AMAZING.
At first she had me walk and trot him like I normally would while she watched so she could get a feel for where we were. After the trot she asked me to canter him. I was having a little trouble getting him to canter (we haven't worked on our canter in weeks), so she started instructing. She had me first bring my elbow's back to rest by my hips, which is such a bad habit for me, my elbows are always SO far forward. At first it felt weird but I could see an immediate change and response from Zu, he got much suppler and softer. Before we asked for the canter again we worked on transitions from the walk and the halt. We'd walk, and he'd have to respond immediately to my leg and walk on nice and forward. When she'd say stop he'd have to stop immediately, not swing his butt around, and stay in a straight line. Once around the ring doing this and we got it. Started on the trot work next. Continued to work on my elbows but also practiced half-halting to get his attention. We worked mostly on a big circle. So she had me keep a good amount of contact with both reins and as we trotted along I would half-halt with the inside and outside rein, while reinforcing my rein aids with my seat and legs. The inside we used to keep our bend while the outside was used for speed control and engaging and collecting. We worked on keeping an even pace with a consistent bend. Switched to the other direction, same deal. Than we asked for the canter again. In the canter we worked on exactly the same thing. He was going at such a nice even pace, not racing around or building up like he does. It took some practice but we got it down. She mentioned how she noticed that one stride he's going nice and slow and the next stride he could charge forward. It's what he does and I loved hearing how she would pick up his habits and how he goes just from watching us ride. Switched directions same deal. Except, ha ha, we were cantering along and he was bulging to the outside so I bumped him with my outside leg and he did a flying lead change followed by a nice "woohoo!" buck. It was pretty funny, and I sat it fine, velcro butt and all. Asked for the canter again and no problems. After some practice we were going around perfectly. We did lots of transitions in this lesson which was awesome for us and having such an experienced eye on the ground to help me communicate with Zeus better was so awesome!
She noticed before we started that we go in his gag bit, I explained it and she understood but suggested that if we do get serious about dressage to think about getting a snaffle bit with the double reins and the gag piece. After our ride she thought that it was fine that I keep using it for now though, after seeing how much horse he is.
During out lesson and after she kept saying how wonder of a horse he is and how perfect he is for pretty much whatever I plan on doing with him. She LOVES how he moves. She also complemented me too, and is very excited to be teaching us. She said exactly what I've been thinking for a while about how everything we need is all there and that she'd just help me find the right "buttons". She asked what I was thinking of doing with him and mentioned eventing. Maybe after a while and we've got some good solid dressage work down and have started jumping lessons we could take him schooling on a cross country course. I've always wanted to try some eventing, and it would only be the low levels for a while but who knows where we could be in a few years. How exciting!
I have a few (bad, sorry mom) pictures that I'll post in a second.
And I warned you, they're bad. There's three of us just walking around and one horribly timed canter picture. But it's better than nothing! Thanks Mom! <3
Walking around before we started.
Practicing the walk to halt transitions. (Ignore how awkward I look please, ha ha.)
The badly timed canter picture. Look at those back legs!
Talking to Joan.
Thanks for looking!