It’s been a really long time since Henry and I have had a lesson with Dressage Trainer. Like over a year. Because first Henry got hurt, then when he came back we were really focused on the move-up, therefore mostly the jumping parts, since… you know… much less likely to die if you’re a shitshow in dressage vs cross country or stadium.
But we’re finally back at a “stable” point to where it’s time (ok, past time) to add regular dressage lessons back in. I’ve taken a few this year from regular Trainer, but she’s far enough away to where I just can’t make it over there all the time. Dressage Trainer (DT) is a 15 minute haul, meaning I can squeeze lessons in on weekdays after work, which in turn means that it still leaves my weekends open for jump lessons or xc schooling or whatever else with regular Trainer. They both have similar styles, so it works out well for us.
Last night we had our first lesson with DT again. I was actually a little excited when I scheduled it, because I feel like Henry has come a long way since DT last saw us. Then on Tuesday we were a shit sandwich full of tension. Like… just could not, from start to finish. All the sudden I found myself kind of dreading Wednesday’s lesson. How embarrassing would it be if we were exactly the same amount of terrible as when he last saw us, early last summer?
Luckily Henry decided to actually come to play. He was still more tense than he has typically been lately, but he was obedient and fairly rideable. DT remarked on the massive improvement in his connection, which kind of just made everything better in general (shocking how that works). Shoulder in and haunches in were better, lengthenings were better, leg yields were better. We’ve never really touched much on sitting trot before, since Henry is the king of back tension, but we sprinkled some of that in there too, and it was not as awful as it could have been. Of course, there’s still a whoooooole lot to work on and a looooooooong way to go.
The most fun exercise I think was when he had us canter up quarter line, leg yield over towards the rail, but stop just short of the rail and go into shoulder in. It required a lot of straightness and acceptance of the aids, neither of which Henry has ever excelled at, but he did it pretty well every time, getting better with each attempt. We also worked on haunches-in at the canter on a circle and when we finally got a few really good steps, it was amazing how much “sit” there was.
Plus it was AWESOME to not just ride in an arena again (something we don’t really do very much) but especially one of standard size that has MIRRORS. Omg. I forgot how much I love the mirrors. Being able to see the angle of his body and my position and all that… it becomes self-correcting. Also, Henry still looks kinda fat. When the dressage guy says his condition looks fantastic, you know your event horse is fat.
Overall he was pleased with Henry’s progress, especially in his connection and general attitude toward the work. Definitely less feral! I was happy to hear that, because of course he feels tremendously improved to me, but… ya know how that goes. We’re going to try to stick to a regular dressage lesson schedule with him, hopefully twice a month, so we can keep building on the positive momentum we’ve got going right now. Henry will be SO thrilled.