|when you forget about the lake dividing your|
horse's pasture and don't put your boots on so
you have to ford your way out on horseback.
The theme of my lesson was: It's time to actually ride real dressage.
Ugh. You guys. You think dressage is fun and stuff until you're not allowed to cheat at it anymore. And then it's not that fun at all.
I usually get on early enough that I can warm Bobby up with a little w/t/maybe-c on my own. That way we're not wasting time on just getting the muscles juiced and can focus on the nitty gritty. This time BM got there while I was still doing chores so she could get on another horse first. That meant she was there from the start of my ride and asked how he felt.
Insider's tip: If you don't want to stop cheating at dressage, do not tell your trainer your horse won't connect to the outside rein.
|ok, but we're both really good at snacking so|
that should count for something, right?
BM started reeling off a list of aids to apply to rectify this problem--you know, basic "Stop fucking with the inside rein, put both your legs on, hello where is your outside rein connection, touch that inside rein one more time I will cut you, etc."--and it was information overload. Not because it was really anything difficult, it was just too much too quick and too different from the simplistic "pull horse, kick horse" mentality I usually coast around in.
I had to stop and have BM place my hands, arms, and legs exactly where she wanted them. Yeah, not the first time a trainer has had to do this with me so I can't blame the ole TBI on this one.
"This is like easy math, right? It's 2+2. Don't overthink it."
"That's too much math for me."
"Okay, then make it 1+1. Inside leg plus outside rein."
YOU THINK THAT'S SUCH AN ELEMENTARY CONCEPT UNTIL YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH THE INSIDE REIN EVER AT ALL.
|jumped that baby gate to finish out today's ride.|
because my horse is not going to break dammit.
We spent a lot of time at the walk. Mostly walking to the left because Bobby loves hanging on the left rein so he was reluctant to let go of it. Me too, Bobby. Me. Too. The main theme, besides don't ever touch the inside rein that's not for you don't do it, was to stop nagging. "Tweak it, and if he doesn't respond then correct it and move on. Stop lingering on middle ground and picking at each other." So hold the solid outside rein connection and put the inside leg on. If he twists his head to the outside instead of bending around my leg, then I get to do one quick tug on the inside rein to tip his head back in and immediately release it and let the leg go back to bossing him around. No constantly pulling on the inside rein to "bend" him.
This is hard because he doesn't particularly respect my leg. Probably because I'm not big on using it and err on the side of reallyfuckinghandsy. Real talk here, folks. Once we got permission to move on to the trot, we worked out of a serpentine to get both of us on the leg train. Not touching my reins to steer was a tough mental exercise, but BM had me put both reins in one hand to prove that he was moving beautifully with zero help from my reins. He literally didn't even notice the change. It's nice to know he's trained somewhere in there, I just suck at riding.
At the canter, same thing. I was allowed to use my ring finger on my inside rein if I need a bit more roundness, but it was all bouncing from one leg aid to the next to keep him straight, keep him forward, keep him bent, keep him in the connection. He can't lift his shoulders if his shoulders are falling in or out. Touch with the outside leg at the girth. Just touch though and just at the girth because Bobby associates outside leg aids at the canter with a flying change cue and wants to swap.
Speaking of, his changes these past few rides have been delicious. I only do one each way to not get greedy, but I've been starting with the L-R which has always been his angry one and he's been jumping over without any drama. Super clean and super quiet, carrying on at the canter like nothing happened. This whole riding the hind end forward thing is magic. Who knew?!
|is this a real dressage horse?!|
Of course by myself it's been slower going. I can get the same work, it just takes me longer to do my math. Especially on Friday where Bobby came out feeling quite fresh and I had to keep throwing in half halts so it was like 1+2 which is advanced stuff bordering on the complexity of fractions. But I sorted myself out, and this morning things came that much quicker. I have to beg Bobby sometimes to give me some amateur points and make some best guesses on his part. I am not a reliable Captain. We need to work together. Co-First Mates or something, I dunno.
With show season gearing up (less than a month to the first show now!), I think switching to dressage lessons is going to be really fun, really helpful, and really hard. We're basically the best at small jumps thanks to last year's training overhaul, so I'm excited to be the best at fundamental getting your horse correctly on the aids riding. Some rides Third feels like it's going to be easy to step up to, and some days I have to count not crashing into the wall because my horse won't steer off my leg a success.