Saturday 14th Feb
A fab lesson! Learnt lots again and much to work on :0)
First I started off in a loose walk / trot to warm up then Mike asked me what I had been ‘mostly working on’ **snigger snigger** as each time he comes I have been mostly working on something hahahaha!! This time though I didn’t have a definitive answer! Which I actually think is quite a good thing as I do realise that I can get a bit ‘tunnel visioned’ sometimes lol lol! So I said, we have been working on a few things but I think ‘engagement’ seems to sum it up! So I showed Mike our more ‘together’ trot which she did nicely but I said we seem to collapse downwards!! So we worked on nicer downward trans.
First off Mike had a fiddle with my position. I am still having a tendancy to TIP FORWARDS!!! ARGH! Which is made worse by my lower leg now being a bit too far back so my position isn’t as strong or stable as it could be so although my position is definitely better than it was which helps with the ‘setting sail’ issues, it is letting me down in downward trans as Antsje tips me forwards and is able to collapse into walk rather than step down into walk. So Mike had me put my leg a bit more forward – which felt a bit odd and I said I was concerned about getting back into that ‘water skier’ position but Mike showed me the difference between the two and I could feel it was not the same! So we moved off again and mike told me to ‘open the chest’ and ‘open my shoulders’ and to also shorten my reins but to hold my arms slightly further forwards. Again I was slightly worried about the arm thing as I had a dreadful habit of straight arms and again it seems I have over corrected it! Now Amy did some video of me the following day and I can see EXACTLY what he was saying as I was still in the OLD mode for the majority of the time URGH! But hopefully me now SEEING it will help me to remember it and therefore SIT UP! For gods sake lol lol!
So, back to the lesson……
With my leg a bit more forwards, my chest / shoulder open and my arms a little more forward I DID feel the difference in our connection for the better – and this time when we did a downwards transition it was a lot better! Amazing huh! Also Mike said to think of ‘holding the reins with my back’ which was a really helpful comment for me as it made me focus on being more upright and strong through my back and not rounding the shoulders. I hope I can break this sodding habit!
After a few good trans on each rein we then moved onto working large round the school and doing some lateral work. We did some shoulder in and Mike got me to first SLOW THE WALK!! Half that speed!! And then to lessen the angle slightly and to really open the inside rein for Antsje to release the neck down but still maintain the SI position AND the slow walk. Very hard for Antsje as it took a lot of core strength to balance – very hard for me as it took a lot of core strength to keep the walk slow and the SI position and NOT to interfere with her neck! Mike says he has nightmares about the friesian neck hahaha! He said although in this position Antsje look to be going a little deep, its where she need to be for the base of her neck to be tied in to the rest of her body and as long as she maintains position and does not rush off then I shouldn’t worry about her head positioning as such right now. Mike also commented that with most other horses working this low would probably start to disconnect the neck but with Antsje it works. One thing we need to get her used to is adopting this ‘released neck’ when you ask her to start lateral work rather than to shorten and bring it back which really does disconnect the base of her neck and keeping the base of her neck tied into her back / HQ’s is so important. It obviously had some effect though as she was snorting and blowing throughout the exercises. We then did shoulder in for a few steps down the long side and then into sitting trot on a 20m circle keeping the connection and the energy created from the shoulder in. Antsje was starting to feel really good and ‘connected’ especially when I got my act into gear when Mike reminded me about ‘Open Shoulders’ Or ‘reins forwards’ or ‘weight the outside toe’ which I found really useful at stabilising me leg! But could I do them all together???? DOH!!
Finally we ran through a repertoire of suppling exercises I can use for helping Antsje step and ‘fold’ her hind legs more………….
Ones we can do!
Shoulder In: Less angle, deeper release of the neck
Travers: Less angle (again!!) and aim for that neck release again
Renvers: Quarters Out – same angle / neck release as for Travers
Walk Pirouette: Ask for a few steps of traver, then straighten then ask for the pirouette. If she gets sticky make it bigger – most important is that she keeps moving forwards.
Half Pass! Ooooo!!! We are getting posh lol!
We did this out of shoulder in and asked her to move over from the outside leg into the direction of the movement. A good little tip Mike gave me was in the movement open the OUTSIDE rein as this ‘anchors’ the shoulders. This worked really well! Difficult for me to explain but if you try it you will ‘feel’ what I mean ;o) The only thing is this can only be done ONCE the bend has been established so works well from Shoulder In.
Now we are getting complicated and I need LEFT and RIGHT sewing into my gloves! As mike would say track left, and then say – NO, your other LEFT!! Pmsl!!! So we did renvers down the ¾ line, butt towards the long side – then after a few steps you ask the haunches to rotate around the forehand 180 degs until you are facing the other way and coming back up the ¾ line in travers! GET IT?? I hope so! It’s a very good exercise for mobilising the ¼’s but because its all new and both me and Antsje get all tight it didn’t look to pretty to start with hahaha! But Im sure once we both get a bit more confident then I can ask for a more released neck during the exercise. FROM US BOTH! Hehehe!
Again, Using the outside rein AWAY from the neck helps to anchor the shoulders and bring the ¼’s around the forehand.
I was really pleased with Antsje – we learned a lot of new stuff today and came off on a real HIGH