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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 …

NEDA Flextime Lesson #2

I had my second NEDA Flextime lesson with Gwyneth McPherson at Pineland Farm last week.  I rode with her last August as well.  It was nice to see her again and ride at Pineland again, which is an amazing facility.  That is where I rode in the Heather Blitz clinic this past May.

Anyway, Gwyneth watched me warm up for a bit.  She noted that Dreamy had improved from last year and even from this past May when she watched me ride with Heather Blitz.  We came to the conclusion that I would work on some movements from Training 4 and then of course, work on her canter.

We did some work on 10 m. circles, as I sometimes have issues with overshooting my centerline on my last movement.  Funny enough, we did just fine each time we tried a centerline.  LOL! I guess I am improving without really noticing it.  But because it is technically a half 10m. circle movement, and we really ought to be schooling more First Level movements as Gwyneth reminded me, we did some 10m. trot circles in the corners.  It is hard for me to visualize a 10m. circle, so some of them started off as 12m. and then 8m. but finally I figured it out.  Now at home, without a dressage ring set up to ride in, I am having a harder time.  But I think a few well placed cones might help with that, as I decided in this evening's ride.  LOL!

We also worked on the stretchy trot circle, which appears at the end of the test.  Often Dreamy will reach her head and neck down but not poke her nose out enough.  Technically she is not following the bit far enough down.  Gwyneth had me let her out slowly, just an "inch" at a time, while making SURE I did not lose the contact.  We got out a little, then she would have us come back to full contact and try again a few strides later.  It worked well, and there was one point where she FINALLY stretched waaaaay down and maintained the contact.  It was awesome!  And I was pleased to feel it correctly for once!  LOL!

At the end we worked on the canter, which went well.  Gwyneth reminded me that "perfect practice makes perfect" so she advised that I not allow her to canter after she "falls apart."  So to the right we only got 3-4 strides before we came back to the trot.  To the left we got 6-7 and once even 8.  :D  It really helped to be reminded that I need to only allow her to canter correctly.  Having been so focused on showing, which requires a full 20m. canter circle and some into each corner, I have been trying to push through her moments of unbalance.  And of course, her canter transitions are great now and most of the canter is pretty good.  But to the right she is still not where I want her to be.  (Funny enough, it used to be that her RIGHT was good and the LEFT was bad....funny how that changed in about 18 months.  ???)

I was so happy to find that it worked well.  At first we had to trot for 6 strides or so (about half the 20m. circle)  to rebalance and get ready to try the canter again.   But the more we practiced, the less strides of trot were needed!  YES!  So it was canter for as many strides as needed, trot for maybe 2 strides, then canter again.  Her canter felt so good, balanced, uphill, and I was not all discombobulated!  When Dreamy loses her balance, I seem to lose my ability to canter correctly too.  Gwyneth, as did Jen, recommended I take some lessons on a schoolmaster to regain my "cantering muscles" so I can better support Dreamy when she gets off balance.  Not a bad thought and something I think I will pursue this winter.  :D

Overall, it was a great lesson.  Even though I do not work with Gwyneth on a regular basis, I feel as though I got a good solid lesson and some exercises to try at home.  I enjoy her quiet but firm teaching style.  She reminds me of my regular instructor, which is why I think I like riding with her so much.  :)

So thank you Gwyneth and NEDA for offering me such a great lesson!  :)  I hope to do it again next year!  :D

Comments

  1. It's a really great opportunity to get to do this, and it sounds like it was a really useful learning opportunity.

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  2. On the 10m circles, I can so appreciate your problem as I struggle to visualise any size circle at all. I have to put traffic cones in the arena to give me visual markers. Yet my horse who has always been schooled by me, can do 8m trot circles under someone else. Ugh. Just remember that a circle is 4 corners and that you have to practice harder stuff at home that you do in competition.

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