I have decided to keep a journal of all of my lessons so I can keep track of what I am working on week to week. Decided to post it up here because in my mind that makes me accountable, if I don't update ppl will wonder what happened...
So while this is a lesson journal for what I am doing etc, if you have any helpful input or tips for what I am working on, I am all ears.
My last lesson was a really good one, I started feeling like things were coming together and I was able to actually ride (not just sit on) this horse that I had really struggled with.
The things that I really have to work on, are quicker responses, and a better sense of timing, knowing where each of the horses limbs are in addition to my own.
We started of just getting a nice forward connected trot, from there we worked on the trot canter transition. At the begining I didnt balance the horse properly and lost my connection through the transition. After a while though it was like something clicked.
After that we worked on the walk-canter transition, asking for the transition when the outside front leg was on the ground so he could step through on the next step. First couple of times I missed the timing and we had a couple of steps of trot. I did get that after a few times though!! YAY
Then we did sprials in from a 20m circle to a 10-15m in the canter before asking for the transition back to trot.
Then did the same spirals in, but instead of doing canter-trot, did canter-walk once we were in on the smaller circle. Asking for the walk when the horses inside front leg was hitting the ground.
After this we went into the jump arena so we had more room (there were 3 other people using the dressage arena) and just did some more relaxed w,t & c.
It was a really good lesson because by the end I really felt like I had established a good connection with the horse and had a good relaxed seat (one of my problems is gripping with the knee but it keeps getting better and better).
I had another lesson today, it was at the same place (place A), again it was a good lesson and I was happy with how it went.
We were mainly working on the adjustability of the horses stride, in walk, trot and canter. At the beginning of the lesson I did not have enough forward movement and the horse kept falling behind my leg (because he is normally such a big mover this really threw me off balance), then we went through a stage where we had a LOT of forward... but no shortening of the stride.
So in the trot we worked on shortening the stride on the short stride and then lengthening on the long side. The difference was amazing!!! It also really helped me feel the connection between by body, legs, reins and the horse! After that we tried the same thing in canter. The first time was a bit of a disaster, we started on a 20m circle and then the aim was to spiral in with the stride getting shorter, but impuslion remaining, instead what happened was I couldnt hold him and as we came in on the circle the horse lost balance and we went faster and faster, until he started falling out through his rear. After this we went over how to ask for the shortening properly and tried again.
It was a lot better, instead of the spiralling exercise we stayed on a 20m circle but for one half stayed in a shorter stride, and the next half lengthened, before bringing him back. The difference between the two was really obvious and it started really making sense how to get him to sit back on his haunches!!
From here we moved into keeping him in the shorter canter for longer, and then did canter loops on both reins. The lesson was hard work but at the end I felt like I had a better connection and far more control over how the horse was working.
So the take home messages for this ride were:
(1) relax the knee
(2) without forward movement you cant really achieve anything
(3) be aware and in control of how the horse is moving (not just where he is going, but how he goes there) - to do this use seat, leg and rein aids
My next lesson is on Saturday morning and is at a different place (place B), I am looking forward to seeing how I can translate this new feel onto a different horse who works completely differently.
So, I've already missed a couple of lessons. Just a review
Lesson 1 (last thursday)
Last week because of the weather the horse I ride in my lessons hadnt been ridden in a couple of days and didnt really want to work. We spent the first 20min or so really establishing a reaction to what I was asking. It started off as a more average lesson where I didnt feel connected to the horse, but turned into a really good one. My leg position changed, so that it was more like my knee was pointing down more, allowing my upper thigh to relax more and my hips to move with the horse more.
Once I had this, it was a lot easier to ask the horse to move forward (because he was freer to move beneath me). The when I started thinking about closing my hand and having the connection more in my elbows we got some really good connected trot work. Had some great mediums with the horse overtracking and well connected :D
Then in the canter I did more work on adjusting the length of the stride. It was the first time that I really started to understand that the horse coming through doesn't happen because of one particular aid and isn't really the goal. The goal is riding correctly and the connection and horses way of moving is evidence that you are making progress towards that goal.
Lesson 2 (this past tuesday)
Then at my last lesson at the different place (B) I got back into doing small jumps (for the last couple of lessons, since I started doing them with another person we haven't been jumping, but doing pole work and working more on adjusting the stride). I have been riding a horse that used to do two star eventing - its been great riding him because all I need to do on him for him to work through is make sure that I am not carrying any tension through my thighs and upper body and my hands stay steady). But he has a tendency to slow down coming up to the jump, rock back, and then jump - its really hard to keep a fluid, steady pace. I'm getting better at it and my instructor has noticed and has asked me if I want to try riding a different horse.
So for my lesson next tuesday I will be riding a different horse, a horse that used to do WC Show Jumping. My instructor said that he has a larger stride and gets a bit strong when jumping (compared to the horse I have been riding). So fingers crossed it all goes well.
Lesson 3 (today)
My lesson today was a bit disorganised but actually went really well. I arrived at the place where I was taking my lesson (Place A), the horse wasn't ready and my instructor had lost track of time. I went out, collected him from his field and tacked him up, after this went to pick his hooves and realised he has thrown a shoe. Then walk him a bit and he has come up slightly lame on that foot. So talk to my instructor and even though we will both be running late, decide that I will untack this horse and put him in a stall so he can wait for the farrier and she will go and get a different lesson horse for me to take my lesson.
I then decided that because we would both be running late to ask if we could do a shorter lunge line lesson. So we worked on the lunge on really relaxing my leg (hip to knee) and moving with the horse. Then did some stirrupless work in both trot and canter - made a big break through with sitting trot and felt so good by the end of the lunge line part. My instructor then took me off the lunge and work on sitting trot by myself. It felt so much better than any past sitting trot work I had done before, my alignment was good and it was actually comfortable to sit the trot. And because I was really following with my hips and focusing on keeping my hands closed and steady, the horse (that I had never ridden before) came round and was really connected and through. I went from only being able to sit for a couple of strides to sitting comfortably. Then did some work through the canter - and I kept the connection through the transitions too!!!
Not only did I feel like it was a great break through lesson - but it appears that my instructor did too. She said that I had graduated from her lesson horses and could ride the "really good" ones :D.
But because it was a different horse to what I normally ride (and one with less movement in the strides) I asked if I could do my next lesson on my normal horse and then if I kept the feeling that I had this lesson I could move on to a different horse. Im just worried about being a horse with HUGE movement and feeling like I did when I first started riding this current horse. I understand that to progress you need to challenge yourself but feel like as soon as I can comfortably manage myself and keeping the horse connected we are moving on to something way more challenging.
I am sure that it is just nerves and it will go well - I trust my instructor and that she wont over-face me. I am just a bit of a perfectionist and dont like it when I do not know what to expect.
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