June 16, 2012

Nancy K Clinic (Again)

That lesson was the best thing I could have done for me and Connor going into the show next weekend.

First of all, she focused 100% on our stiffness, and helped me re-discover my good pony.

Second of all, she rode him!

Let's start at the beginning, when she looked at us with her head cocked for a moment and said, "Haven't I seen you before?" I responded, "Yes, in February, and he's changed a lot since then."  She agreed, said he looked bigger than he did in February, and said, "Isn't he the pony from out front?"  It was she that commented on him as he stood out in his paddock a couple of weeks ago. I affirmed, and we chatted about the problems we are having (great in April, regression in May and June as far as bit evasion and roundness go, unbearably stiff to the left, Dressage show next weekend) and got down to business.

One of the first things she had me do was 10m circles both off the rail and around her, focusing on moving the outside shoulder around the inside.  "He LOVES you!" she said, "He loves you because you will just hang on that inside rein all day and give him a shelf to rest on and a reason to travel with his shoulder popped out!  You're making it easy for him!"  She pointed out that the "L" of my arm was rather obtuse, and that when I was playing with the bit ring I was actually cocking my wrists, dropping my forearm even further, and knocking the whole thing out of alignment.  It was while I was working at this that she asked if she could ride him.  I said "Sure!" but in my head I was thinking "OH MY GOSH YES IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION!?"

Seeing such an accomplished equestrian ride Connor was unbelievable.  With Nancy's feel and timing he came right around and was easily manipulated, stepping under himself and stepping away from her leg when she asked.  "He's really not a tough horse, he's an easy horse, he just gets heavy.  You have to be constantly moving the bit around and never quit in order to prevent that heaviness.  Move the bit, move the bit, little inside leg, catch him with the outside rein.  It's all about developing that feel and timing."  Her seat was so solid, and her hands and arms were elastic, always asking him to accept the contact but never taking it forcefully.  She never stopped moving while at the same time looking cool, composed and relaxed.  I learned almost as much watching her ride him as I did riding myself.

When I got back on him, I started to get that feeling back that we had in late March and early April.  I re-learned how to use my outside rein and let go of the inside.  I kept, as Nancy put it, the bulb of my elbows pointed toward his hip.  I redefined the "L" of my arm, which felt weird, but as soon as I moved my hands up he came round and went on contact.  It felt so busy, but I did increase the amount of playing I did with the bit, and suddenly I found that he wasn't stiff as a board anymore.

Without that lesson, I think that show would have gone a lot differently next weekend.  I'm giving him the day off today before riding tomorrow and Monday, and I'm interested to see how I go on my own.

"Boy is he cute, he is so cute when he goes on the bit!"
"Whew, that saddle is hard!  I like a hard saddle, but wow!"

1 comment:

  1. Thats so exciting i love when trainers are willing to get on and show you what it is that isnt working i have nothing but respect for people like that. If you are not willing to get on my horse and show me then i probably wont have another lesson with you.