My lesson tonight was great and this post is very long! LOL! So many things came together well. We started with some walk/halt/walk transitions and then walk/trot/walk on the 20 m circle to improve our connection.
I have found that I brace my arms outward in downward transitions as a way of keeping my body upright when Dreamy lugs on the bit as she slows down. Not pretty. AND on the upward trot transitions she likes to do the STB hop into the trot as though she is pulling a sulky. So not good for dressage. :P And because I am always bringing her right back down and trying again, she has become dead to my leg.....as in the transition does not happen as soon as I apply leg.....it takes her a moment to decide what I mean. Grrr.....so then in that few seconds she gets all flung out on her forehand and the transition stinks.
SO......Judy had me actually doing a step or two of leg yield into both my upward and downward transitions. Ah, now we were onto something. Suddenly we had these smooth transitions with no lugging, no head tossing, no arm bracing (usually). Just need to hear Judy remind me to "DO IT NICE!" LOL!
It makes sense to me why this works. We are activating her inside hind leg, making her step underneath herself, and engaging her hindquarters. This occurs and WOW she is fluid and nice and a real dressage horse! I just need to remember to organize MYSELF to do this every transition. After a while I am hoping Dreamy will not need the actual leg yield, but be strong enough to do it with just my normal leg and hand aids. :)
Then we moved into doing half a circle in a collected trot and then half in an extended trot. I got some nice moments in the trot. Suddenly we had a nice connection and it all came together. It is so amazing to feel the correct things after working so hard to achieve them! YAY Dreamy! And instead of the nice moments being fleeting half seconds (LOL) they were actually a few seconds! And sometimes even the entire circuit around!
At one point Dreamy did this big floaty trot for about 3-4 strides. I was like WHAT? Judy said she actually had some suspension in her trot! COOL!
We did a lot of walk breaks of course. Judy told me that the walk is the hardest gait to keep pure. I never knew that. I guess you should never work too much in a medium walk because then it can get pacey and lateral. But you need to do plenty of loose swinging free walk. This makes sense to me because a true walk should be a four beat, swinging, marching along kind of gait. I think Dreamy has a great walk....she oversteps well and can use her back. For some reason we get great free walks at home but then over the diagonal in a test she will never poke her nose out and really stretch like she will at home. Not sure about this yet......
So then we went into canter, with the right lead (stronger side) first. Judy wanted me to do 1/4 of the circle in trot, next 1/4 in canter, next 1/4 in trot, and next 1/4 in canter. Whew, it made my head hurt just thinking about it! LOL! That meant a ton of organization from ME. Thinking about it now, that is literally like 3-4 steps of each gait. To the left it actually went well. She did not rush or lug on me which was awesome. I thought about my leg yield into the transitions and I think it went well.
The canter to the left was a bit different. Dreamy was getting tired, so she made the decision that maintaining the right lead would be waaaay easier. We had a couple of wrong leads, but then we did get a nice canter. Then she started with the fussy head thing. I was actually pleased she was going to be a poop in our lesson, because this is exactly what gets me so frustrated at home. I don't so much get frustrated with her, but with me and MY riding. But of course, that makes her upset. :( So having Judy being calm and telling me it was OK made me feel so much better. I was still frustrated, but she was able to work us through it and remind me that it really was not as bad as I thought it was. That helped TREMENDOUSLY. I need to keep her voice in my head the next time this happens at home. Judy is fabulous, by the way, and I am not just saying this because she'll probably read this (HI JUDY!) LOL! I know we would never be at this point in our training had Judy not been willing to take me on as a student. AND give a little Standardbred mare a chance. :) Thanks Judy! Just wait until I go back to work and can take WEEKLY lessons..... ;-) I would move Dreamy right over there if I could. LOL!
Anyway, so the cantering was good in many ways. The "hundreds" of trot/canter transitions is going to help us both. It will make Dreamy stronger and therefore more able to canter correctly, while it will also make ME stronger and more able to organize myself and apply the aids correctly and ON TIME. Also when we were cantering to the left, Judy was having me counter bend Dreamy, because often I am thinking so much about Inside Leg to Outside Hand (it is even my screen name...LOL) that she pops her right shoulder and her hind end gets all messy out to the right. Then she is unable to step into the canter properly with that outside hind. HMMMM....makes sense to me! So I have to not only think about supporting her with my outside hand but ALSO with my outside LEG. DUH to me. And it made a real difference when we got it all right. :)
At the end we talked about how I am having trouble with my 10 m turns to and from center line. It bums me out because I know we have to score 7s and 8s on our walk and trot work in Training 1 to make up for our low canter scores. So Judy told me that it was just a matter of counter bend there too! AH HA!!!!!!!! Now that makes so much more sense to me now. I was allowing her to lose her back end and fishtail all over the place......and the worst part is that every single darn center line in Intro B and Training 1 is a LEFT turn....her worse side! LOL! Judy teased me and said I had to do T2 instead. LOL! Yeah, well, I told her next year we would aim for T1 and T2 or T2 and T3. She said, "Or 4 and First 1." That caught me off guard. I am sure she was teasing, but it still is cool that she said that. :D :D :D I was thinking First Level in 2010! Dreamy could probably do it, but it ups the stakes enough to make me feel SCARED! LOL! Not really.....but something to think about. It is all about what the Dream Girl is ready to do. If she shows me she can, we will do it. But I want to be scoring solid 60% tests at Training before I even think of moving up to First. And not score less than a 6 consistently on our canters. OK OK, granted we did get 2 5s on our left canters and 2 6s on our right canters at HBF. But I said CONSISTENT. :D
I love my lessons. I wish I could take 2 a week. :) I love my little mare too. She tries so hard!