December 5, 2018

Lesson Wrap-Up: That Wandering Right Shoulder

I had no idea what to expect from my first lesson in *coughcough* a month.  (How dare my job interfere with my hobby, I mean, really!)

I started out by talking about something I've been feeling lately that I don't fully understand, which is that during Connor's warmup, he swings the right fore diagonally and lands it outside of his body.  In both directions.  But once he's warmed up, that foot no longer swings out and instead lands under his body.  And the faster I can achieve that, the shorter his warmup is.  And while he's landing it to the outside, it feels like his head, neck and shoulders are slanted with the left ear being highest and the right shoulder being lowest, as I look at it from the saddle.

All photos from the warmup at the IDS September 2018 show
PC: Karen Taylor

(I got to thinking about this after reading Megan's post "Cold Backed & Disconnected" last week, although I can't say for sure the two issues are the same.  But that was the inspiration.)

My trainer's response was something along the lines of "Yes I know exactly what you're talking about and I'm so glad you're feeling that!"

I had thought to attack this from a "I must be letting him escape out the right side" angle, which was working somewhat.  I've noticed my right thigh is often not on or in the thigh block, which is part of the reason NK is always using the "pull up your knees" cue.  In order to put my right thigh on from where it normally is, I have to rotate my thigh in and snuggle into the thigh block which puts my calf on him better.  The left thigh is always snuggled into the block.

Ahhhh our warmups are always so beautiful #noshame

My trainer had me attack it also from an inside hind activity angle.  I have lesson amnesia and didn't record it so I'm not going to explain it here, but it worked SO well.  Between that and my newfound almost habit of not pulling on him, the contact felt amazing.  

We used half pass and SI at the walk, and then "thinking" half pass and SI at the trot in order to really engage him.  After some canter work when he was really engaged, we asked for a big trot - and he actually forged under saddle for the first time ever!  Not that I WANT my horse to forge, but for my dachshund-shaped horse to be hitting his front feet with his hind feet, we're talking never-before-seen amounts of reach with the hind legs.

He's been good lately, but for him to feel THAT good, in a lesson, after a long spell with no lessons, I am so thrilled.  

That warmup turned into this ride, so, y'know.