Friday, May 28, 2010

Lesson with the Ladies

Before I left the barn Monday, I asked the ladies if they were taking a lesson this week, mentioning that I'd be in town Thursday . . . .

And so a lesson was kindly scheduled for the three of us for Thursday afternoon. That means this week I rode Monday, harrowed Tuesday and Wednesday, and had a riding lesson Thursday. That is a very good week.

So, in the lesson we did a lot of neat and cool things. Two poles on the ground, walking then trotting over them. Rol has some issues with her hind end: pushed a bit she has no trouble not adding a step in the trot poles with her front end but the hind end is pushing it to make it. Once she stepped ON the pole and just darn near fell completely down. That made her less bold, more cautious on her next attempts but that is a good thing. She was still able to make the striding when both of us were concentrating on it.

Then we did turns on the forehand and I got kudos for that! It is always nice to get kudos. I got them because I didn't get her excited doing the turn -- I'd ask for a movement and give when she gave it to me. She did it very well.

Then we tried something I'd not been introduced to, at least not in this way, before. The ladies and Cheri had tried to explain it to me last year I think but I didn't understand from the explanations: Square corners. What it really is is the beginning of pirouette: Keep the bend, collect a bit, ask for the turn with the outside leg so that the forehand comes around. We were doing 90 degree turns, which reminds me humorously of quarter turns in beauty pageants. Maybe it was the squares we rode that did that reminding. Anyway, Rol and I didn't have any problem getting this or doing this. My main thing was to take my outside leg off BEFORE we were finished with the turn and add more inside leg for forward at that point so that we didn't lose momentum and rhythm in the walk.

Next was one at a time work: trot in a large circle a good forward working trot, sit and collect for a few strides, post and working again, several times, then when that felt a little developed change the rein across the diagonal asking for lengthening in the trot, then repeat in other direction. First of all, Rolinette is not the easiest horse in the world to sit, and second of all, I haven't really practiced sitting trot in, say, 30 years? And third, I tend to tilt forward; I'd say that is probably my worst form fault. So it was sit back sit back sit BACK and it was good in that when I really did get back far enough, I could feel the difference. I couldn't necessarily hold it for long but you got the momentary feel and if you could do that enough, you could have it. I'm not sure her stride changed much though, not in the collection. I don't think she's really strong enough yet to really do much in collection. Every time I sat her head came up which concerned me some that my poor sitting was hurting her but Lisa said that that too was just her lack of strength.

The lengthening, though, that was nice. I had asked her for a bit of that in some of our other rides which probably helped some. You know, a horse can't really collect until he is going forward and she is certainly willing to. Her lengthening wasn't brilliant (and it isn't likely to be brilliant) but it was there, and if it is there, more collection can be there too, eventually. It all goes together.

We repeated the sit/collect exercise adding asking for canter on the circle, then a nice downward transition, important for Rol since she can get excited about cantering. Ah, but her first downward transition was beautiful into a relaxed trot so we went into the lengthening then repeating all on the other end. It took me twice on both sides to get the canter so for some reason (thinking too much? afraid of making a mistake?) I seem to have more problems with that in a lesson than riding on my own. We're still really just playing with bend -- if I ask for bend too much, she gets fussy and curly with her head, so with her on a whole lot of issues there is very light give and take and let alone.

I had a whole lot of fun in this lesson. The vet is looking at her again Friday to see if they can figure out if something is truly wrong with her hind end or not.

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