I had the privilege of riding Rolinette with "the ladies" and their steeds in a group lesson. Now, I love group lessons, probably because that's what most of my experience is. I also love swapping horses in group lessons -- you get to see, literally see, what is effective and, honestly, how your riding compares, all under tutelage to get better.
And I love riding with the ladies because I love the ladies! They are hilarious sisters-in-law. Lisa, the instructor, did wonder how much it would add up to if we added all our ages and our horses' ages together (somewhere near 230 years I believe). We're an experienced lot, even if all that experience isn't in dressage.
Rolinette is such a pleasure to ride. And we had a really good lesson. I committed to trying to ride her in an upcoming schooling show in Training Level Test 2 which is a little of a stretch but not too bad. Might not get good scores but I want to try it. I'd do test one but test two gives a bit more time between canters which gives time to settle. I was also thinking of how I want to warm up before the test . . . totally in the back arena, and enough time but not too much, like twenty minutes maybe -- enough time to loosen up, to practice the transitions, to settle back, but not to get tired or bored or decide she's done. But that of course won't be set in stone this far out.
So, the lesson was good. Some decent stretches, decent walk, actually nice trot, decent transitions for the most part. Then came the canter. Truth is, I haven't actually cantered that much since I got back to riding. It isn't like I have a horse out here that I can just go out on and GO like I did when I was a kid. Everything is arena driven now. So I got to canter Jeb some when I was riding him. Bart a few times. Not Dollar though. I rode Casey one day and cantered her one way (hers was actually the most comfortable of them all) but couldn't get the other lead and I wasn't really riding her, I was just on her for a minute. Anyway. I've cantered Rolinette more than anyone probably, but for like a circle, maybe two at a time. And I somehow had her all balled up during the lesson. Our first canter, on her better side (right) was ok; I had to circle to get the transition and then it was bunny hopping like crazy and when I'd finished my circle I was ready to drop right to walk because I was exhausted! Lots of leg to keep her going and keep my butt in the saddle.
And this is where an instructor is so important -- Lisa said that she was just about as collected as she can get and for me to let her go some. Hey hey hey, I hadn't realized! So we did it again and it was powerful, not that correct but much more ride-able. Lisa said if that power didn't intimidate me (are you kidding?) to let it go like that. Wow. Ok.
The other direction was bad. Could. Not. Get. The. Transition. She was sucking back and turning inside out and she would almost take off on the correct lead and then suck back and if I was doing that I didn't know it so it became just let her go (except I have to remember to NOT say go), and finally we did it, she did it, we just went forward around on that lead. Try again another ride!
I'd never had that trouble before so it was frustrating. I always suspect myself, my form, my imbalance, my whatever. But I also think it had to do with her standing still while we were watching the others do the exercise . . . so in a group lesson again, I may try to keep walking with her. Should I get to do that group lesson again anyway. I hope so.
So, I've got three weeks and finding this darn vehicle is talking up way too much riding and thinking time. If we can get that settled, I'm going to see just how often I can ride her (3Xweek I hope).