Monday, October 17, 2011

Riding Lesson 10/16

Lesson goals:
Give me more tools to get Bailey engaged and working "back to front."

Reason for goals:
Exercises like this (see list below) are always a great help to my horse but these were mostly for me. On my own I am not very successful at getting Bailey to truly engage his hindquarters, use his abdominals and lift his neck from the base. My aids are also poor when trying to cue with my inside leg to ask for Bailey to move off that leg to the outside shoulder and into my outside rein. Mistakes I'm making: weight to the inside rather than on the outside seat bone and sinking into my outside heel, instead of insisting he move off my leg I'm trying to use too much inside rein (and doing that incorrectly anyway) as compensation (extra big prob when tracking left). Because of all this I'm not only ruining his balance I'm also giving him a reason to lean on me. He's oh so happy to say, "Thanks, Rachel, for that lovely leg to lean on and drop my shoulder into." Tricksy Bailey.

Lengthening and shortening of stride at trot
Flexion to the inside and outside (not true shoulder in) along rail at trot and in 20m circles at trot
Flexion to the inside in a 20m circle at canter
Great, of course! My instructor is phenomenal and always knows just the right exercises for Bailey and me. It's also especially helpful to have her call out what I'm doing wrong so I can correct it immediately. My slow response is one of my biggest challenges as a rider. But, anyway, the big eye-opener for me was seeing how helpful it was to focus on sinking my weight into my outside heel on the circles. Also, when asking for the flexion at a posting trot I was leaning forward (once again unbalancing my horse). Once I got myself sorted we were much more successful but he was still ignoring my leg when asking for flexion (especially when tracking left). I'm never very good at insisting (timing problem again) but with my instructor's help I did insist that Bailey stand up and move off the leg. Hurrah! We had several successful moments in sync. Because Bailey was working so hard - and has his winter coat a little too early - we weren't able to do much at the canter but all the prep work at the trot really paid off because the last circle we did was fantastic and he powered out of it so impressively. He really had his back end underneath him and the motion of his neck was wonderful. He made a huge effort but I didn't need to lengthen his reins because the motion was "closing the loop." All the power was available to my aids and it felt awesome. It's these tiny moments of progress that all the prep is working towards. Now, if only I can keep my end of the bargain and use correct form!!!

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