Continuing on this trend of having a lot more lessons than we normally do, we hauled out again on Saturday… but this time for a dressage lesson. When was the last time I had a dressage lesson? I don’t even know. Last summer probably? But 1) I wanted Trainer to see Henry in his new bit, to see what she thought, and 2) I’ve been texting her recently about a couple of issues I’ve been having on the flat, and she wanted to get her eyes on it.
As soon as I got on, Henry was pissed off and tense as hell. We were in an arena full of jumps, in his dressage tack, and he was pre-done with this bullshit. He hasn’t felt that awful right out of the box in a long time. When he’s like that he just tightens his back into a board, takes teeny tiny horrid steps, and puts his tail in helicopter mode. All you can really do is push push push him forward, riding him over tempo for a while, and wait until he starts to get more in front of your leg and let go of his back a little. Honestly he used to be like this more often than not, especially in warmup at shows, so I was having flashbacks to Past Henry. Nothing like flashbacks to give you perspective on how far you’ve actually come.
After about ten minutes he finally started to give up a little, and we were able to begin addressing the issues I’d been having. Turns out they were both connected. Who saw that coming? Literally all of us.
My first issue is that I’d been having a bit of a problem getting him to connect as well in the outside rein when we’re traveling to the left. At home I noticed I was overbending him to the inside, and when I started to think of almost more of a counterbend, it was better, but still not quite there. Trainer immediately said “his haunches are falling out to the right”, and I’m like “wow I’m dumb, DUH!” and we starting working on controlling that hind end, almost riding the haunches slightly left. When I got it, he came into the right rein just fine. When I stopped concentrating on where his haunches were, they snuck right again, immediately evidenced by a lack of connection in the right rein. And so we went, back and forth for a while. This’ll take some work and diligence on my part.
My other problem, that to be honest has plagued me forever, is my rogue left hand. As Henry has moved along in his flatwork and his balance and frame have lifted, so too have my hands. Well… the right one has anyway. The left one likes to wander around doing it’s own thing, taking sporadic vacations somewhere near the withers. I can only keep my hands up and even if I concentrate on them constantly. Otherwise, next thing you know, that left hand is down the street at the corner gas station, drinking a forty wrapped in a brown paper bag.
But hey, every time Henry’s haunches started sneaking right, guess what my left hand did? Yup, you guessed it. Dammit.
What we have here is a good old fashioned straightness issue.
When we moved on to the canter it was a little more evident to me, especially travelling left (how did what used to be our good direction now become our bad direction?). After about a lap Trainer said “think about bringing your right seat bone a little to the left” and omg. The difference was immediate and obvious. He tricks me a little into shifting my weight a tad to the outside, which exacerbates that crookedness in the hind end. As soon as I thought more about bring my outside seatbone slightly in, everything got so much straighter and I actually had a horse underneath me. Witchcraft, I tell you.
I was kind of glad that Henry decided to show up and be a turd, because it really brought all the “bad” to the surface and made it easier to pinpoint things. Now I have plenty to work on at home. Maybe we shouldn’t go so long between dressage lessons.
Hillary got a few clips that I threw together into one. It’s awesome to be able to go back and hear Trainer’s words again and see what she’s seeing, so thanks Hillary! Usually if I have any video from dressage lessons it’s because I begged Trainer to take it, which kind of interrupts us both. Being able to see and hear it this way is much more helpful as I move forward and try to work on things by myself.
Oh, and the verdict on the Neue Schule bit from literally everyone is that it’s fantastic. I knew it felt like an improvement, but seeing the video, there’s no doubt. It’s a much better fit for the shape of his mouth, and he seems a lot happier to go to it and stay there (when I get him straight and keep track of that delinquent hand, anyway). The chomping is completely gone, and he’s not diving down behind it and then bouncing up off it like he would do in the KK. Seriously need to write up a full review soon, because Trainer wrote down her feedback on it as well, and it’s gold.
Today is supposed to be one of the coldest of the winter so far, so we might put the dressage to rest until tomorrow or the next day. I feel re-invigorated about it though, ready to take what we learned and chip away at it at home. Our scores have been decent enough since we moved up, ranging from 30 to 34 (with an error), but I know this horse has a really solid test in him, if I can do my part to unlock it. That is my mission. Along with everything else, of course, like trying to get him around 1.10m well, and gallop and jump all the Prelim stuff which is literally big enough for a family of hobbits to live in and technical enough to short-circuit my brain. Ya know… no big deal.
Who’s idea was it to take 3 hard sports and combine them into one?