Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It was so nice to see Sarah after our missed lesson on Saturday, we both felt like we had not seen each other in an age. We rode inside today because the weather was being a touch unpredictable, and I need to use the dressage ring to get back into test riding mode. Sarah came out on Monday and rode Werther. She said Werther felt more supple, and she spent some time in a slightly longer and lower frame to stretch his top line muscles. We started by developing energy at the walk, a little squeeze with the calf and then loose legs. When we had a good level of impulsion, Sarah had me take a feel of the bit and frame Werther up but encourage him to keep the length in his neck and not curl up. Once we had the impulsion and the contact at the walk established, we moved on to the trot work. This is where I started to struggle, Werther was really testing me, trying to be either round or forward and not both. I was getting moments of correctness, but nothing consistent, and Werther kept ending up behind my leg. Sarah had me jump off and she hopped on Werther. One look at Werther and you could tell what he was thinking, "Just joking guys, give me back the other lady, she doesn't make me work as hard". Sarah started with Werther like I had, making him give her a really good walk before moving into the trot. She made Werther give a nice trot, and did a few trot canter transitions before handing the reins back to me. she couldn't have ridden him for more than five minutes but the difference was marked. Right away moving off of the mounting block I gave a little squeeze with my calves and he marched off for me. We repeated our initial exercise of establishing the walk and the trot. Once we had a good trot going we moved up to the canter. Here I struggled a little. I wasn't clear enough in my transition aids, and Werther kept offering extended trot rather than canter. Sarah said part of that was Werther, he was feeling really good today, very loose and swinging in his back, so he offered the extended trot instead because he is really good at it, and it was less of an effort for him to give a really good extended trot than a quality canter. Sarah said something really interesting that people often had the impression that horses should be working their back muscles all the time, but the back should never be tense. Instead the back should be loose and swinging and the strength should come from the horse engaging his core abdominal muscles. I kept trying to sit back and keep a good contact with my outside rein but when Werther wouldn't pick up the canter right away I would get out of balance and lean forward and throw my reins away, which unbalanced Werther, so it was all very cyclical. I got a little bit of really good canter, but in a effort to keep up my connection I would balance too much with my hand and not back it up enough with my leg and Werther would break. By the time we finished I felt I was getting comfortable using more leg, and really dressage subtle leg, not cowboy leg. We finished on a stretching trot circle, I had a totally had a brain lapse when we first started, but our second attempt was better. I getting the hang of keeping contact on the outside rein even when it is super long.

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