July 10, 2015

Ballin' Dressage Lesson

We were grade A Dressage ballers last night, me and this little horse:

Game face, giraffe face, one and the same.
I'm at this point where I know he's capable of some pretty amazing work, but I don't know how to get it quickly, and I often spend half of my rides on my own trying to figure out how to get it, get it briefly, and then quit.

After last week's lesson, I thought a lot about what she had me do to get him on my aids.  The answer was shoulder in.  So I did a lot of that in my warmup, and by the time she got there, he was on my aids and ready to go.  He had some moments of really brilliant work, steady in the bridle, with a lengthened neck and open throatlatch, and very free movement through the shoulders and forelegs.

The wild animal forages for man made horse treats.

The biggest takeaways from last night's lesson were:
- Even when standing off the horse, my right shoulder is usually higher than the left, which means I sit crooked too.  Leveling out my shoulders made an immediate change in the way he went.
- Think less about sitting down on the right and more about not allowing him to drop me into the holes he creates when his back moves away so dramatically.
- He gets me off to the left on the right rein.  Shifting weight into my right stirrup and thinking longer on the right side and shorter on the left immediately leveled him out laterally.
- I need to get his shoulders out of the way (to the outside) and engage the inside hind more.
- Reins need to be short enough to have a constant communication with him and my reaction time needs to be quicker.
- Keeping him between my thighs/using my thighs more keeps him from bulging out around turns.

If I can get that kind of work consistently, we could do 2nd level next year.  If I can't, I'm going to continue to spend every ride trying to figure out how to get him straight, and I don't want to do that.  I want to go farther!

Communication is key to being a good boarder, especially when you randomly leave your half pad drying on your horse's stall because it smells like a mold farm.


  1. i'm finally starting to figure out some of that side to side stuff, like sitting too much to one side vs. tilting another direction... so hard to identify in ourselves! very cool that you're figuring out how to get him straight to work so quickly tho!

    1. It's really really hard to feel in yourself. I have spent entire rides on my own trying to get him to do something, when in fact I was preventing him from doing what I was asking by being crooked.

  2. So hard. It's giving me a headache just thinking about it.

    1. No kidding. These blog posts are the hardest to write, because I need to think the lesson through so I understand it better/can remember it later, but I tend to float through them reacting to what she says minute by minute. Thinking about it is really hard.

  3. My trainer likes to say dressage is like controlling a dolphin in the sea with 6 panels.Two on each side(shoulder vs haunches), one in the front and one in the back. Each panel is one of your aids. Oh and the dolphin is wet and slippery. Yeah its difficult.

  4. Until I started riding these young cobs, I never realized how hard it is to get them straight sometimes. I definitely appreciate my older, trained ponies so much more. I am hoping to get back into lessons to help Roscoe and Rosemary figure out the concept with me. With Comrade I can use the lateral work to get him straighter, but the other two are tougher. Can't wait to see Connor follow his sister's path in dressage.

  5. Once you learn how to do something, figuring out how to get it consistently and when you want are the next steps in my learning process. You'll get there!