I’ve been wanting to take another dressage lesson for literal years, and finally made it happen a couple weeks ago. With my new wheels, options for a dressage lesson have multiplied! Sadly, there is no media from the lesson, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
As the trainer, L, and I got acquainted I went through a few goals I have from these lessons. As you will see a lot of these issues are related.
- Improve downward transitions, particularly from canter to trot. Ernie has a tendency to either pull down and trot away with me or get hollow and kind of throw his legs around. Both feel like tension to me and I’ve been unable to make any meaningful improvement. Sometimes I can feel if a transition will be good, but I can’t fix it when it doesn’t feel good, which is 95% of the time.
- Improve our trot, particularly collected trot, such that he willingly lifts his back and gives me a place to go for sitting trot. Very hard to equitate on a hollow back, never mind that it just doesn’t look great.
- Better control of his right shoulder. It sometimes tries to exit, lol.
- Improve consistency of contact. Particularly to the left I have trouble maintaining outside rein contact.
Despite this being our first lesson together, I was really impressed at how much L was able to help me. After watching us warm up and asking some questions, she pretty much just began telling me things to do as we went around and I did them. Then we would take breaks and she would explain what was going on and why I was doing something. Items I learned:
- I fuss less with my reins when someone is giving me constant instruction. As I’ve tried to replicate the work we did I struggle with getting too busy which is not a new issue.
- The tension I’m feeling after the downward transition is Ernie balancing with his neck. By flexing him to the right, asking the right shoulder to lift, and sending him forward I can break that cycle. Interestingly, he wants to slow down when I do those first two things, so then I really need to push him forward more.
- Due to our cycle of tension in the downward transition, we both needed (or maybe just me, lol) a bit of distraction to relax. So sometimes I posted on the wrong diagonal. Sometimes we did some spiral in and out circles. We also added in a fair amount of changes in direction. L would call out things and I would just do them and not really let myself analyze until after. It was really fun just riding off instruction and feel.
- Go FORWARD! All this time I’ve been letting him mince along to wait out the tension and soften after a downward transition to trot, but we needed to go so he could let loose in his back. Not running off his feet forward, but really pushing from behind and going somewhere.
- Ernie is the best. Okay, I already knew that. Gets off trailer in new place, rides in spooky indoor (complete with trampoline) alone. Tries his best all the time. What more can you ask for?
One fun thing is that despite us not working on the sitting trot at all in the lesson, the changes made have already had a positive impact on it. Just so cool!
I am hoping to get one more dressage lesson in before tax season hits, so keep your fingers crossed for me on the weather!