Monday, July 8, 2013

With Hard Work, We Progress

So Friday was a great ride. It was a bit warm, but we had the perfect breeze. Spyder wasn't in the mood for a ride, but he perked up quickly and was easy to handle. We started with w/t and got balance going. From there, we picked up the canter. It was AMAZINGLY easy to pick it up (to the left, of course). Once we trotted to the right, I was having trouble getting him off my leg. It took a few circles, but FINALLY, he started listening. Since he was moving over, I pushed up into the canter which was also very easy for whatever reason. He can hold it longer because he's finding his balance, and he's starting to get moving off my leg at the canter, as well. Whoo, maybe soon we can do BIGGER circles.

On to the Danny lesson yesterday - OH BOY! We walked over to the indoor very bravely, and he was just a bit perky/excited/nervous. It was100% my fault because I was nervous, but the heat made me realize that he wouldn't be moving anywhere too quickly. It was 95 degrees, and I had a 2:45 lesson. Had I known it would have been so hot, I may have not signed up, but I sucked it up because he doesn't come too often. The indoor was nice because we got out of the sun, and the ceiling fans were going which helped with air flow a bit. I'll have to go over to the indoor on days when it's really hot if I want to ride without the sun. Normally I wouldn't have ridden on such a hot day, but we had things to accomplish.

To start the lesson off, Danny asked me what I would like to work on. I had to think about it, because I'm not sure where we left off with our other two lessons. I remembered - the first was w/t/STOP because stop wasn't working... and the second was w/t/STEER because we worked on my posture, but steering was not an option. I decided to ask to work on rhythm and balance because I let him know we get a running walk or a pace when he's off balance (but it's also a laziness issue). We started off with a quick trot warm up in both directions around the indoor. Danny could see that I've been working with him as the trot was a lot better than prior lessons. It was great to hear I did something right since the last time he saw him move.

We worked on a circle around Danny while moving the shoulder out. I used a dressage whip to push his shoulder out when he wouldn't listen to my leg. At first, he kept speeding up with the whip in which case my outside rein had to dictate the pace. He kept trying to trot off which was frustrating so I had to keep bringing him back down. Danny let me know I let my horse get away with murder... bad habit, I know. Once he got over that the whip didn't mean SPEED UP, it means MOVE OVER, we were looking great. Danny was pleased with his form in the walk so we moved up to trot... failure. We looked like a sloppy mess, and he let me know it. Then I got asked, "why can you do it at the walk and not the trot?" Good question? It's because I was too busy flopping around. So lesson #1: Outside rein to set the pace, inside rein to pull in his nose for the bend. Easier said than done so we worked at the walk again. I had to keep my outside rein and hand at the saddle and close my inside hand until we got the bend.

Keeping my hands steady at the walk was easy, but the trot they were all over the place which was the problem. We then moved back up to trot once I got my hands under control. This time we got it, but Spyder was picking the pace. We worked on slower, slower, slower, and Danny assured me that there is no rhythm issue. Once he is balanced, his rhythm is great. I just had to learn how to keep him there and to keep his shoulder out. Spyder was getting frustrated on the one half of the circle and pulled a little angry/rear/hop up stunt, but I rode through it well (oh no, being asked to get off my leg is SOOO terrible). I am so happy that he pulled the act just once and that I could keep riding him like it never happened. We took a walk break, and I needed it! It was so hot, and I was bright red/feeling like I could pass out. Whew, summer is killing me.

I wanted to switch to the left because that's my stronger leg and the easier direction. So when Danny asked me to grab my reins to start up the same exercise, I said, "Same direction?" He said, "Of course, you think I'd let you do the easy way? I remember that the right is the weaker side!". I thought I could catch a break, but he let me know the once a month or so was not enough time to work on the "easy side". We were doing so well on the "hard side" so I got to switch direction at the trot. I had to keep using my weak right leg which was now the outside leg since he gets it so easily to the left. I knew I'd be sore the next day (but it's not as bad as expected). We kept switching back to the right since the "bad side" was getting to be so easy.

I REALLY enjoy Danny lessons because he's tough, and you get a lot accomplished in just one hour. You're always getting questioned and ideas handed to you that make you think. He's always asking you things over and over again so they stick. The next ride, you know EXACTLY what to do because you repeat what you're doing throughout the lesson out loud. It's a great way to teach because you can't forget unless you are not participating in which case he lets you know it. You might get asked (which I did), "Now what are you doing wrong?"... when you're puzzled because you're doing things right (so you think). The point is, you think, "What am I doing wrong?". Well, nothing. The answers are sometimes complex and usually simple, but you don't think to say, "Umm, I'm doing everything right." It's positive reinforcement to remind you that you know what you're doing while you're doing it.

I had to repeat to Danny (out loud) "this is the hard side" a few times while we went around to the right in a perfect circle to remind myself that we accomplished what we were looking to do. Also, "outside rein sets the pace, inside rein turns his nose" must have been repeated ten times. Then I got asked, "and what else are you doing?" I also had to add "if the inside rein doesn't make him move out his shoulder, then push him out with the inside leg."  Saying this over and over again is going to help my next rides immensely. I'm looking forward to the next lesson because we were looking like a dressage team! The trainer/BO took a video of us once we got through the rough spots and changing direction. It's hard to see the difference between either side because he was so good in both directions! :)