Spooky Sunday, and Letting the Outside Come Around

My crazy work schedule meant a missed lesson this week, which we made up on Sunday.  In daylight.  In the open field across the street.  HALLELUJAH!

Moment of brutal honesty: I didn't even attempt to clean the leg he puts on the ground in order to eat grass under the fence in turnout.  It was a muddy trainwreck.

My trainer asked if I wanted to borrow Louie's saddle (big drafty paint X guy, we've borrowed it in the past) and also ride in my jump bridle to change things up a little.  I am so glad I said yes, because if I hadn't, I probably would have been a lawn dart.  Connor was hyper.  I asked for the canter in warmup and got a squeal.  A squeal!  A quiet little pony sized squeal.  What does he think he is, a racehorse?!

It's an event saddle made in England, and is definitely the most British piece of tack I've ever seen.

We got to work with my trainer, and in the first five minutes, Connor completely lost his shit over the following things occurring more or less simultaneously:
- Neighbor kid playing basketball about 400m away
- Bare patch of dirt in the grass
- Shadow of jump standard being cast on the ground (to be fair, it was the first sunny day in three weeks here.  He probably forgot what shadows are).

He jumped in the air, threw his head in my lap and scrambled backwards/sideways, and then got even more scared by his own spooking.  Oh boy.  So we started at the walk, and ended up having an extremely productive lesson, surprisingly.

"What, me, scare myself spooking?  Doesn't sound likely."

One of the biggest things we've learned recently is that I hold too much with the outside rein in both directions, so he can't lengthen the outside of his body to move it around the inside.  When I think about a soft outside elbow with my outside hand a bit forward, he's able to bend a lot better.

Today's lesson was a lot about doing the following things on a circle:
1) encourage him to lengthen the outside of his body with a soft outside elbow and an outside half halt, then
2) encourage him to bend around my inside leg, using my inside rein to guide him, making sure that my hips are straight but my shoulders are bending, to put him in shoulder fore on the circle

She had me focus on one point per quarter of the circle to plan ahead for his bend, so that it was more consistent.  The result was that he was soft and bendy in both directions, including the left, although it was harder that direction.




At the end she asked me if I had any questions.  I did.  "Is it okay to like riding him better in a bit with more leverage than the snaffle?  I feel like I am a bad person for preferring the way he goes in the elevator, but it's like I have to whisper when he's wearing it, and I have to shout in the loose ring."

She said, no, it's fine, and she actually wants me to ride in the elevator for a little while because we're retraining both my and his sense of feel.  He likes to lay on my hands (and when he does over terrain, he trips) and this is a tool to help us not do that.  I rode with very little contact today, and she said he looked better than she'd seen in months.

All in all, a really productive lesson.  Way to channel that excess energy into good work, little buddy.


17 comments:

  1. SO THAT'S WHY MY TRAINER TELLS ME TO PUT MY OUTSIDE HAND FORWARD. Love your lesson posts!

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    1. Do I have a book for you! The chapter I read last night in my current book basically explained why that mattered so much in the lesson I had hours before. Look up 'When Two Spines Align'.

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    2. Ooooh thanks for the recommendation! Dressage is so great. :)

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  2. Haha, totally sounds like me as well. :-)

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    Replies
    1. All the confessions, bring them to me!

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  3. So as a trainer I totally play this game on accident with my kids.

    Day 1-Year 2: would you hold a contact for Pete's sake without hanging up on your horse? THAT MEANS KEEP YOUR OUTSIDE REIN.
    Year 2-forever: Okay now uberstreichen, to let the horse come through and test self carriage... And when you retake contact soften the outside rein to allow the bend....

    Silly kids they never know what hit them

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    1. Haha! I love your trainer perspective. I know deep down that trainers and chemistry teachers do this. "What you're learning now? Yeah, I'm actually going to teach you an entirely different way of thinking about it six months from now. But way to go today!" It's all part of the process, but sometimes I do think in my mind "But you told me not to do that six months ago..."

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  4. The hollow rein is the Bain of dressage riders existence lol

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  5. I really would like to see a Connor canter squeal departure on video!

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    1. Ahhh I wish I had it! It was such tiny, tiny rebellion.

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  6. aww poor Connor - those shadows are tuff stuff.... sounds like an awesome lesson tho! and interesting points about the bit change up

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  7. ahhhh I love the pony squeals! Glad you got to get a make up lesson in and that it was a good one! I think I have the opposite problem of you right now, where I'm not holding enough outside rein...

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  8. I'm getting day time lessons during the week this week, its weird.

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  9. Love the squealing! Poor Ginger scares herself spooking too - silly cobs

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