February 17, 2011

Lesson 1/2

It was during this lesson that I rode my first Dressage test.  We worked on some basics (primarily not stiffening during certain things, like halting), and then she said she was going to have me do a couple of tests.  I didn't say anything, but I was nervous that I would get in the middle and forget where I was going and yell "Where's the next fence?!"  Wait.  Wrong sport.  Anyway, I'm not the greatest at remembering courses/patterns, but I ended up doing quite well on the Dressage tests.

There is so much to remember that she says (and that I feel) during lessons, and I can't really remember it all when I sit down and think about it after my lesson.  It's nice to have the 40 minute drive home to think about what happened in my lesson, but even still, so much of what I'm learning is accomplished physically and automatically right there in the moment that it's hard to remember in words what happened.

That said, there were three things I took from this lesson: One, I really understood and felt the purpose of the outside rein.  I was controlling his shoulder with just the outside rein when we were doing 20m circles in the middle of the arena (which, by the way, I had never considered that that figure in that location existed before last night.  Yes, I'm not the brightest.)

Two, for the first time I equated the movement in my seat with the horse's movement at the canter.  Bear with me here, people, and remember I came from hunter land.  I was taught to rate the horse with my reins and not pump with my upper body.  That's pretty much the extent of my "sitting the canter" training.  I followed whatever the horse's canter was, because in IHSA, you ride what you draw.  So last night, she tells me that my big seat motion at the canter is driving him forward, and that I need to rate the canter from my seat just as I rate the trot from my seat.  Whoa.  Big lightbulb moment here.  The canter is the same as the trot.  Or at least the effect of my seat is the same in both gaits.  Why hadn't I thought of that before?

Three: I thought of the arena as a four-sided polygon rather than an oval.  Again, something I have never had to think about before, but she made me think about actually riding straight on the short sides as well as the long sides and making quality turns every single time.  Again with the details, I've made an extremely concerted effort to make every turn as if a judge was watching me, and it's paying off.  I'm not letting Dillon dictate the turn, but I'm really holding with the outside rein and inside leg and not letting him turn a second before I say so.

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