January 4, 2015

Lesson Wrap Up: Really Getting It

Almost the first thing out of my trainer's mouth today was, "He's so active behind!"

I laughed.  The day before I had done two exercises from my secret weapon, a book called When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics, and boy had those lessons taken hold with Connor.  One was designed to get him in front of my leg, and the other was to get us listening to each other, specifically with him obeying me from the moment I ask for something he understands.  I also got serious about him moving off of my left leg in leg yields, and didn't accept "Hmmm, what was that you said?" for an answer.

It worked.

Between his impulsion, his paying attention to my every aid, and the elevator bit encouraging us to both be light in the reins, we had one of our best rides so far.  I used another concept from WTSA:DD to align his body correctly (more thorough review coming soon), and the rest flowed from there.

Completely wiped out pony worked really hard in that lesson.

We started out with turning from just my seat and core, doing serpentines at the walk.  When he was listening to my seat, we did figure 8's at the trot.

Most of the lesson focused on switching back and forth between shoulder in and haunches in on the circle, and for the first time, I felt like we really got it.  It took really loud outside half halts at first to get shoulder in, but I was able to make that aid get progressively quieter.

The net effect of switching back and forth was that I had great inside hind leg engagement, and I could actually feel that, the inside leg stepping into the center of our center of gravity.

Both the book and my trainer talk a lot about not holding him in a position like SI - to put him there and then make him accountable for keeping it.  It means I'm letting him make mistakes and making corrections often right now - it feels like constant re-evaluation of his position in a movement.  But I know that's just one step of the journey.
Got rid of the goat beard on Friday!

By the end I had a straight, pliable and engaged horse who was turned in to the quietest of my aids and really pushing from his hindquarters.  Time to demand more of him again, my trainer said.  He has proven he can do these things well, now I have to accept no less from him.  Looking forward to seeing where this goes!


  1. I just bought that book off of Amazon! Glad to see it was a good purchase haha

  2. That's great! Sounds like some really good exercises. I've heard that people really like that book - I'll be interested to read your review.

  3. Oh cool! Can't wait for the book review.

  4. Yay for a great ride! Can't wait for the book review!

  5. What an awesome feeling when you are ready for more!

  6. Sounds like awesome progress! Also can't wait for the book review - sounds like a great read.

  7. Capital P progress!

    I've been looking at that book - can't wait for the review. :D

  8. Sounds like a good read. I love that moment when something like shoulders in clicks for the horse, and you feel that stepping in. It feels so awesome when you get it right, without contorting yourself to get it.

  9. I've been wanting to buy that book as well! Now after reading this I'm going to click the order button.

    Congratulations on an enormously successful ride!

  10. what a great feeling - esp now feeling like you've got the tools and exercises to help recreate the right ride and energy!