August 24, 2015

Left Bend

In another rider's JLC ride, he said something that was very evident in my lesson on Thursday.  He said when you're trying to make a big change in the way the horse is used to going, they will actively resist you because they're protecting themselves, because you're asking them to change the only way they know how to do something.  You'll ask correctly, and they'll give you all the wrong answers at first and flat out tell you 'Not possible!', and that's okay, don't think you're asking wrong, you're not.  You just have to be persistent and eventually they will see that the way you're asking them to move is more comfortable for them, and they'll do it right.

That happened, word for word, in Thursday's lesson.

I hadn't ridden since Sunday thanks to a business trip to Grand Rapids, and Connor did not come out with his Dressage hat on.  We worked through that, and then worked on the left bend issue.

The left bend has never been good for us.  Even from the ground to a casual observer, it's visually apparent that he just clicks into place on the right, but the left sucks.  Check it out:

Left, uh, no bend.
But to the right...

Not the best example of bend, but take my word for it: magic happens to the right, and to the right only.

My trainer had me take my outside (right) leg waaaaay back to ask his croup to stay in.  It felt like I was going to touch his hip with my ankle (though I'm sure I wasn't even close).

And this kicked off a ten minute argument in which I would get the croup, then he'd pile onto the inside shoulder and almost counterbend, then I'd get the shoulder and the croup would swing to the outside.  I pointed this out to my trainer and asked WTF?  She said he was telling me that he can either give me the croup or the shoulder, but not both. (Both being required to bend left)  He did not know his body could bend that way.

(He also, interestingly, was very rateable speed-wise to the right, but would go as fast as he could to the left while we were doing this.  If that isn't an evasion, I don't know what is.)

So we just...slogged through it.  Like JLC said, I kept asking, he kept saying "MY BODY DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT, LADY!" and then...I got both.  And we got the most left bend I think we've ever gotten, and the whole rest of the lesson I got it and I didn't even have to ask that hard for it.

It was like he realized what I was asking was 1) possible and 2) easier than he thought, and he said, "Okay!"

At the end of the lesson, we did some legitimately legitimate walk half passes, better than we've ever gotten, because I had croup control.  It also helped when, with every stride, she called out "croup, shoulder in, croup, shoulder in."  It helped my timing with the aids a lot.

I'm looking forward to exploring this more, and maybe, having the same feel to the right that I do to the left for once.


  1. Hahaha, totally been there. "Oh you want bend? How's about I THROW MY BUTT INTO THE NEXT COUNTY??!?!?!" Gotta love that move. Sounds like you guys are making awesome progress though!

  2. Glad y'all ended on the same page! Getting there is so hard sometimes

  3. Very good points, I remember when introducing lateral work to the moose horse, he pretty much almost always fell flat on his face when I asked for sideways. WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THIS WAY. he seemed to say, but in due time right.

  4. Man dressage is hard when the horse doesn't wanna do it. Well done working through it!

  5. Nice! Sounds like an excellent breakthrough!

  6. I'm totally there right now, but it's about eeeevvveeerrryyytthhiiinngggg. Nothing is okay. Nothing is easy. Nothing is possible. I can usually trick Murray into doing it the first time, but after he realises that what I'm asking him to do is actually hard he's like "OH NO WAY NO CAN DO". I feel you. I need to work more on this.

  7. i recently came to a similar conclusion about just being patient and continuing to ask while the horse figures it out. tough to be that patient but glad it worked out so well!