I had a lesson last Sunday – the first in a few months! The lady rides at Intermediere level and has trained her two TB’s herself. She enjoys working with non-typical dressage horses and has a good eye for horse and rider ;o)
She picked up very quickly on mine and Antsje’s strengths and weaknesses and this gave me a lot of confidence in her instruction.
She was very complimentary about the work I have done with Antsje so far, so that was a relief!! She said I have done well in getting her neck out as so many horses like these are ridden too short in the neck and she was also happy with my position in general, which again was a bit of a relief.
She also picked up on my tendency to ‘tip forwards’ and Antsje not quite being ‘through’.
So we worked a lot on getting a proper and honest connection from back to front with Antsje, which meant her putting a bit more effort in lol! And also me being really strong in the core and encouraging action from the HQ’s and holding it with my seat and “not touching the front end” so Antsje was encouraged to be confident in the contact.
She also recommended working Antsje a bit ‘deeper’ to really get that connection over the back and into the hand. Now before you all go ARGH!! This wasn’t with her head on her chest!! Just a slightly lower position with the neck to really tie in the back and the withers as the energy can get a bit unconnected at this point. Its always something Mike has got me to do too, so I was happy enough with the idea. She also said that with a horse built like Antsje you will never have a problem getting the neck ‘up’ because of the way she is built so we can afford to ask her to work a bit lower without any problem.
So we worked on getting her to take the rein down, then bringing her together a bit, then taking the rein down again so we were able to keep the neck coming forwards fluidly whether we were in a stretch or more ‘together’ Once we had this feeling she got me to think ‘leg yield’ but not actually let her step over but just hold her with the outside leg and rein so in effect it acted like a half halt and encouraged her to activate her inside hind more. From this position we asked for a transition into trot and I have to say it was SUPER! F noticed that although our upward trans were good, the downward ones were not quite there. Once she got me pressing Antsje ‘forwards’ into the walk and me really raising my rib cage lo and behold we got some excellent downward trans too! So, if we don’t the horse to collapse – the rider MUSTN’T collapse lol!! Obvious hey!
In the trot we concentrated on asking Antsje for more POWER but not to go any faster or come out of balance. To do this I had to be really strong in my core and control her with my rising and just try and keep a consistent steady contact with my hand. The trot felt REALLY good and REALLY connected and I could see that now both me and Antsje have improved in strength and balance we need to move up a gear as we are both capable of it!!
F had a look at the canter and again was pleased with what we had achieved. She thought improvements could be made by again keeping this nice connection that we had going in the trot and not let her back off as she went up into the canter trans. So she got us working on a really strong powerful trot on a 10m circle, getting Antsje to really release over the back and through the neck, once I felt that nice powerful SWING I asked her to leg yield out for 2-3 strides and then go up into canter. It really worked WELL!! On the left rein we got some excellent ‘direct’ transitions and because she kept the connection over the back and through to the hand the quality of the canter was much better and therefore we also got some nice downward trans into the trot again. On the right rein she seemed to need a few strides to organise her legs before we got the canter transition, but she didn’t rush and she didn’t loose the connection and both me and F were pleased with her efforts.
To finish, we did serpentines in trot with a 10m circle each time we came back to the track. Antsje struggled a bit with this exercise and didn’t want to keep the ‘power on’ and we lost the connection a bit – although maybe we were both getting a bit tired too! F asked me to let her take the reins down but to still keep the connection and not to just throw them away! And we finished by doing a few figure of eights in a stretched out swingy trot which F said would be good to start and finish our sessions on as it gets that ‘forward neck into the contact’ attitude and also will really help stretch and unlock the top line muscles before and after the main work.
I was really pleased with the lesson and it has given us lots to work on! Im having another next Sunday!! Hahaha!