Thursday, February 25, 2016

Recent dressage lesson = TONS of homework

Continuing on my recap from the also includes my Sunday dressage lesson. I dont normally do lessons on Sundays other then teaching my own lessons, but with it being overcast and a bit drizzly I jumped at the shot to slip in an opening that C had right after Emma had her lesson.

So we hitched a ride with Emma and I am thankful she got Tillie loaded up for me while I finished up with my last few lessons. After a bit of rushing around, it turned out C was running really late so I made it long before Emma got on and was able to watch hers! She'll be recapping her own lesson on her blog I am sure soon - here.

An indication of how our lesson went...a tired and itchy Tillie

I mentioned in my Part 1 recap from Saturday's lesson that lately I have felt Tillie falling back into the old habit of wanting to put herself in a safe zone and not being all that agreeable when I ask to change that. She'll happily go around straight, bent to the inside, high or low but once I put her there, that is where she wants to stay. She is quite smart and only recently did I figure out this is what she was doing rather then just being stiff or harder one way vs another etc. 

C pointed this out right away and said that while its a much better place shes putting herself in, we still need to be able to adjust her more readily and have more give at any time. So we went right to work and I can summarize all I can hear in my brain after the warm up:

  1. Push her around the inside leg even more - SO much freakin inside leg
  2. Watch out for a stiff right hand, but open and close to have more bend in both elbows especially the left (nice to know I have issues on both sides)
  3. My left shoulder creeps forward making me crooked/twisted in my torso
  4. Dont be afraid to take the rain until she softens BUT I must soften and follow her back

 Tillie had a few moments of "No I dont think so" before she settled into a nice rhythm and really started to dig into work. She was so into it, her vibe was contagious and I felt a bit like the little engine that could as if she were thinking "I think I can" over and over.

C had us going on a 20 M circle spiraling into a smaller circle focusing on really getting her to give and wrap around my inside leg before using a fairly quick leg yield to push her out without losing the shoulders. Here is where we talked about leg use and keeping it longer when applying it since I have the old habit of lifting my heel and my leg then shrinks about 6". Ok maybe not THAT short, but its a bad habit among many others I need to break.

Here is a video of warm up...notice Tillie really starting to dig it by the end of the clip:

After the warm up we continued trotting but started asking for leg yields, but really quick lateral ones to promote getting her out of her comfort zone. Tillie was all business. 

It felt really good and still amazes me how well she is progressing despite not riding at all during the week with our ring still frozen. After a bit of a break which had a lot less rude pulling and rooting then usual, C had me start back up said, "ok, now sit your trot"

Lol I made a face apparently because she laughed and said everyone makes that face!

Being fairly new to sitting a trot where my horse is actually is not the most pleasant thing in the world. Ill admit, I feel as though I am riding it ok, until I watch the videos. The amount of discomfort that I am emulating is so apparent I was uncomfortable just watching it:

At this point, Emma started filming since my phone died. C  prompted for me to canter (I love how we will be going along and rides as you go and gives us commands a few strides before she wants it). Sadly we missed capturing on video the first and most wonderful right lead canter transition. It took both Tillie and myself by surprise that C even laughed and said it was all over my face.

C had us move onto leg yielding in canter to get her more mobile and rideable in canter. At this point its been all about the basics of balancing her and keep her from diving on the it felt really good to receive a command that required taking our canter to the next step - which as you can tell in this clip Tillie wasnt quite prepared for: 

What I have loved about the sitting trot despite how uncomfortable it is, is how much it has helped me get a better feel in the canter. I can only describe it as me feeling more balanced and stuck in the saddle which allows me to use my seat to better help Tillie. The leg yields in the canter were quite fun! Tillie gained a bit of speed through them, but it didnt feel too bad with how soft she was. 

So we moved on the left lead canter which is our harder and weaker lead. C guided me on how to use a better timed half halt to get her more balanced and using herself better without me grabbing and bracing on her. 

It produced quite a nice canter and we were able to do some of the maneuvering from this lead as well. At the end C had us try some lengethings in the trot across our diagonals to promote testing the boundaries of balance which Tillie tends to err on the side of caution. You can see in the clips she gets a bit unsettled and really doesnt let go of her shoulder just yet in them...but C reassured me it would take some time for her to trust herself to just ride very straight, weight even and both elbows stay at my body. 

The lots of homework part includes:
  • Taking Tillie big around the entire ring to test try to get her trusting lengthenings more
  • Sitting trot there is no head wag which means rising trot happens from tension on my arms
  • Bring my left shoulder back/straighter
  • MORE inside leg and MORE bend to get her out of the safety zone
  • Sitting trot practice rocking back more and letting my "crotch bounce" 
  • Stretchy trot (which we did a few circles of here)
Poor Tillie was so tired after trying so hard she was ready to go to sleep:


  1. ha pooooor tired Tillie, such a tuff life! she looked great in the lesson too - like she's much more willing to let you push her out of her comfort zone and try new movements without fuss. and like, actually, she might kinda like it! haha

    1. Thanks! I love her new work ethic...hoping it stays this way when trying out XC soon!

  2. Tillie looks like me after a hard lesson. :)