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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Another good lesson

I have been taking as many lessons as I can lately, as school is starting again soon and my time will obviously be spent teaching English all day rather than playing horses.  :(  I am very sad....and NOT ready to go back yet!  I have had an AMAZING summer!  Usually I try to take two lessons a month, every other week, but I have had them pretty much weekly this summer.  Once school begins, I will try to take at least two a month on the weekends...I hope!


Anyway, I had a lesson on this past Tuesday.  We started out with canter work, after I had warmed Dreamy up.  At this point, I really need to improve my seat at the canter in order to help Dreamy improve her canter beyond the first 5-6 strides.  She has an excellent and balanced transition and a great 5-6 strides, but then it begins to fall apart a bit.  Though it is NOT as bad as it once was, I MUST improve my balance for her balance to improve.


It is sooooooo frustrating to know exactly what I need to do in my brain, but be unable to actually make my body do it.  At 31 years young (today is my birthday! yay!) I am very fit and physically able; to actually have to fight my body when I canter is stressful.  I have no idea WHY I roach my lower back and lose my leg when we canter, or WHY I cannot correct it, but I have been fighting it forever it seems.


SO....Judy gave me (more) techniques to try to find my balance and strengthen my core.  (Last week she teased me and told me to imagine I had a $100 bill under my seat and if it stayed there I could keep it!  :D  It worked OK but then I started bracing my seat to stay down.....which braced my elbows.....and did not work out as well as it should have.)  She told me to try to imagine that my lower legs are wrapping around her barrel and that I want my heels to touch (which of course, cannot happen....it is just a visualization).  Her thought was that if she could get my leg to be a teeny bit forward, then perhaps it would help me sit up.  My poor instructor; it seems that she constantly has to invent visualizations to help me ride my horse!  LOL!


First we began on the larger circle, and then once we established a decent canter we went smaller.  I would say we averaged about 17 meters...a few times we actually hit the 15 m. circle at the canter!  And it was GOOD!


For whatever reason, that visual of "touching my heels underneath her belly" totally helped.  It helped make me sit straight in the saddle and my butt actually stayed firm in the saddle instead of the slight lift and then bump that happens when things get all unbalanced.  Of course, I still had to think about keeping my elbows soft and following and maintaining her bend with my outside aids AND maintaining the actual canter....LOL!  But suddenly she slowed down, stayed on the small circle, maintained a three beat canter, maintained some lift in the gait, and we actually made it around a full circle before I had her come back to the trot!  It was awesome!  :D  We BOTH stayed balanced!


We had success in both directions...and I did not want to stop!  It is SO nice to have really great work that feels SO right and correct.  It is always fun to ride my horse, but when we are totally in sync and riding correctly, it is more than fun!  It is addictive!!!  LOL!  I hope we can continue to strengthen her canter, because it is coming along so well!  :D :D :D

It was a good plan to start with the canter work.  Last week we did a lot of trot work and lengthenings first,  so I think she was pretty tuckered out when we finally did the small canter circles.  And while last week she was not 100% sure what the heck I was asking, and therefore the canter was only OK, this week it was like it all clicked.  Yay!  :) 


At the end, Judy had me do more leg yielding/shoulder in along the rail and then some lengthenings across the short diagnols.   The lateral work was decent, but the lengthenings did not have quite as much impulsion as last week....again, it was the end after lots of canter work and she was tired.  But that was OK.  It was still good trot work and I was pleased.  When I play around with this stuff at home, I will be cognizant to only do one or the other....if I do small canter circles I would not ask for lengthenings and vice versa.  :)  But in a lesson, it is nice to get the help, support, and feedback so I am prepared to practice on my own.


I kind of wish I could get some video and/or photos of my lessons, because we usually have some really nice moments.  But it is rather hard since I go alone...I need a personal photographer!  LOL!!!


Next lesson is set for next Tuesday....  :)

Comments

  1. Good stuff! I find that, for me, what helps is to visualize sinking/melting into the horse. Glad you've gotten some good lessons in.

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  2. Happy birthday!!! Great to hear that your lessons are really helping you make some progress! Yes, we do need some pics - you need to recruit someone to get some for you!

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  3. Happy Birthday!!!! Try doing Pilates. That will help you with your core fitness and co-ordination.

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