Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lesson 7/15/08

After having to miss a week because of scheduling conflicts on my end, I FINALLY had a lesson this Tuesday. I would love to literally take 2-3 lessons a week! So I was feeling really deprived.

Dreamy was fabulous, as usual. This has been her normal routine lately.....to make my jaw drop each time I ride. At least I did not cry with happiness in my lesson tonight....how embarrassing would THAT have been? ROFL! ;-)

We started with some walk-halt-walk transitions on the 20 m. circle. I focused on getting her to move off my leg immediately into a crisp and forward walk. And then ride her into the halt. After a few times, I could feel her haunches come underneath her and she was right there on my aids. What a nice feeling to have a horse on the aids! :)

Then walk-trot-walk transitions. Again, we worked on getting her to move off my leg immediately and without having to tap-tap-tap and THEN get the transition. She was really keyed into my seat and leg and stayed fairly steady in the contact. Of course, whenever she got fussy it was ME not riding her correctly. And the downward transitions.........I worked really hard on not bracing over the past few weeks. And it seemed to help, as the transitions were much better from trot to walk.

We worked on shoulder fore for the first time. Not surprinsingly, Dreamy was much more able to do shoulder fore to the right than the left. I do not even think we GOT it to the left.

Judy had me doing a few steps of sitting trot on both up and down trot transitions. At first, I was not 100% sure why, until she mentioned that this was to ready us (me) for First Level work. UMMMMM.......OK! :D :D :D I am trying to tell myself this is not as scary as it sounds. LOL! I have admittedly avoided the sitting trot. For one thing, her trot is BOUNCY. I figured it was because she had a jarring/not-so-nice trot. Judy informed me it was because of her SUSPENSION that makes it hard to sit. Oh OK, now that sounds a lot nicer! It is true, that it is not her trot, it is ME bracing. Instead of sitting softly and absorbing the energy, I try too hard, brace and get tense, and end up slapping the saddle with my seat. So not pretty.....and so not comfortable for either of us.

But we can do a nice sitting trot up into the trot.......and the minute it gets uncomfortable, I post. So Judy wants me to start with 3-4 steps of sitting in the transitions and work up to 15 or so. This is going to take me all year. LOL!

Our canter was pretty frickin' awesome. It was relaxed, forward but not rushing, correct leads, and NO pacing! :) She also has started relaxing her poll and neck, so Judy claimed there were moments (strides) of her canter that were round and quite nice. YAY Dreamy! :) Judy literally had me canter twice in each direction and that is all. She said it was so nice at this point that she did not want to drill it. BIG IMPROVEMENTS since April, so I am happy. :)

My problem right now is that I am letting my reins get too long in the canter. So then when we come down to the trot, I am fumbling all around trying to shorten my reins and reestablish a connection to the bit. And then we are four strides into the trot and it is not looking so good. Then it takes another 4 strides to make the trot into something presentable. That is nearly an entire 20 m. circle from the transition to the "nice" trot. SO I need to think about keeping my steady connection throughout the canter and then immediately get the nice trot with a good tempo. No more of this fumbling around. My horse deserves to have me ride her correctly.

At the end, she had me work on my center lines. For some reason unknown to me, I have been having the hardest time not overshooting on my last center line. GRRR....Once I figured out how to control her haunches more accurately, I figured that would solve it. But in my lesson I realized that I am trying to make the turn at A instead of a few strides before A. UMMMM, WHAT???? I know better than that, but for some reason riding without an instructor (OR ANYONE!) for 7 years makes you forget the most basic stuff. SO....once Judy nicely reminded me how to actually ride the center line, I was able to do it just fine thankyouverymuch. :) Nice to know I am just being a bone-head, I suppose.

So the lesson was great. My homework is to continue sharpening my transitions and work on the sitting trot. And I will keep asking for shoulder fore. Maybe we will get it to the left in the next week or so! :)

My next lesson will not be until after my next show, so it will be interesting to see how I might score. It will also give me fodder for future lessons. I hope I can improve my center lines and canter circles in my upcoming show. Time will tell! :)

And the funny part: Judy told me I am her best student (or maybe she said ONE of her best students....) because I actually listen to her during my lesson and go home and practice. SO she sees actual progression and improvement in the next lesson and we can move on to something else. I thought that was pretty funny.....but I suppose most people don't do what I do. I am just so thankful to be able to FINALLY take lessons, with someone CLOSE by, who teaches CLASSICAL dressage, that I am soaking this up and working my BUTT off at home. I almost think I would feel like a failure if I went to my next lesson and had not mastered what we did the last time.

Now granted, with the Dream Girl it has not taken much to improve DRAMATICALLY!!! LOL! So Judy is seeing a totally different horse than she saw in May....and nearly every lesson. Maybe that is why she is so impressed. ROFL! Nah, I know I work hard and so does my mare. But I do realize that at some point we will plateau and not make such leaps and bounds in our training. I asked Judy if she would ever ride Dreamy for me or get on her in a lesson. She said yes.....so that is nice to know....if I get stuck somewhere, she will get on and help sort it out. Now, granted, I like knowing that everything this horse knows is because of MY riding.....I own the good and the bad. :) But I also like the feeling that if I ever needed her to get on Dreamy, she will. Judy is just awesome. :D

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