Lesson Wrap-up: Spiral In/Out through the Half Pass, Walk and Trot

My regular lesson slot (for five years now!) is 7pm on Thursdays, so since the last two Thursdays were Christmas Eve and New Years' Eve, I have some makeup lessons coming.



I took my first one on Saturday afternoon, and it was awesome.  I got on and could immediately tell my trainer had been on him lately - he was totally sensitive to my aids.

We did a couple of walk laps in shoulder in, and then picked up the trot.  It was...lackluster.  My trainer yelled from the opposite end of the arena, "Prepare for the corners by doing shoulder in ahead of time.  More bend!" and finally a lightbulb went off in my head to complement the "how much thigh do you need for shoulder in" lightbulb that went off a few weeks ago: lots of thigh PLUS asking him to soften his jaw at the same time with the inside rein is MAGIC SAUCE.  "Good!  I don't ever want to see another corner with him falling out," my trainer said.

"Yes, hello?"
I mean...I've done both of those things almost simultaneously before, although the AMOUNT of thigh I have to use is certainly a new discovery.  But I've never done the two at precisely the same time before.  It was like I flipped a "Dressage horse switch" in his brain.  (Really that's just called "Getting enough bend.")

It was in a break after that that I asked a stupid question: "It takes SO MUCH inside thigh to get where we need to be in shoulder in right now, should I be wearing spurs to accentuate my leg?"  The answer is "NO, spurs do not affect bend or spine, they only affect the hindquarters.  No spurs."  I know spurs don't affect the bend, but damn he is a thigh workout right now and it would be awesome if someone made a thigh spur.  Time to start weaning him off of that big of a thigh aid, gradually.

Gratuitous tail photo, sadly rubbed at the top by his blanket.

We moved on to a new exercise, which was a spiral in/out on a 20m circle, but through the half pass.  It is definitely not something I could have done without her constant guidance, but Connor loved it.  He was concentrating so hard and really thinking about what we were asking, which caused my trainer to complement how in tuned to each other we've become lately.  We've definitely moved to a new stage in our relationship, four years in.

I turned him loose this night after our ride, and he spooked at that sprinkler every time we went by.  Then what does he head straight for when I take his tack off?  The thing that's been scaring him all night, to investigate it.

You know that quote that's like "You can't grow unless you get pushed out of your comfort zone?"  At the end, we were doing that spiral in/out half pass exercise at the trot, and Connor was giving it all he had.  He was on the bit and on the brink - not past the brink, but he was where he wasn't sure he could do any more than he was doing.  It was an awesome feeling to feel progress being made like that.

13 comments:

  1. I am so jealous of your indoor right now. SO JEALOUS. Also your fanceh poneh ;)

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    1. I don't take either one for granted! He's only fancy because he's wearing white Dressage boots, they make anything look fancy. ;-) It's magic!

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  2. I am jealous of your schedule. I never know when I'll get a lesson.

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    1. Believe me, I hang onto it for dear life. A lot of other people scramble all the time, which we have an online lesson booking system where we can see open slots, so that helps, but it's still not as nice as being able to plan my week around Thursdays at 7.

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  3. Sounds like a great lesson! I love the spiral in/out on a 20 m circle exercise, and the horses seem to like it too. (Well, you know, until it's like an 8 m circle, then Gina gets very swishy with her tail!)

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    1. Lol, I am too familiar with the attitude that comes at smaller circles/more bend/more push/more effort. Horses!

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  4. Spirals are my life right now...it seems like even our jumping lessons currently incorporate some. Half pass to spiral = impressive!

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    1. Spirals are really hard for us, I can't imagine what you're going through! Thanks!

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  5. Love that exercise! I love the quote at the end too, definitely a good reminder. It's fun to follow along with your progress together, he's really coming together!

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  6. ""It was like I flipped a "Dressage horse switch" in his brain. (Really that's just called "Getting enough bend.")"" <-- i giggled at this bc this is pretty much the world i'm living in right now - just trying to achieve that bend. and it's been kinda incredible to see what's actually possible when we do get it (fleeting tho it may be lol)

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  7. Half-Pass is magic sauce for lots of things, as I have recently learned :)

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