Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Dressage Lessons

Been a long time since I last posted on my riding!

So far I've had 4 lessons with the dressage instructor whom I'll call Miss D. I really enjoy her coaching style. Her background meshes well with mine and with each lesson I have been improving my position and effectiveness of the aids and Monty has greatly lightened up on his front end and is giving more from impulsion behind.

From the first lesson, I explained that I knew I had gotten lazy and hadn't had a lesson in about 2 years. She caught me on one thing I was aware of without even clueing her in - I "talk" too much with my hands. I have a habit of getting nitpicky with my rein aids and I had a feeling it was obvious. It was, she called me on it from the beginning. We also were very "clunky" in the transitions. I just let him fall into them without keeping contact and asking him to work into the next gait.

She has made me conscious of my position and balance. Miss D said it's obvious my preferred riding style is huntseat, and I do pivot forward at the hip almost naturally when riding. From the hip down she likes my lower leg position very much. She has pushed me into sitting straighter and deeper. In so doing, I allow Monty more freedom up front by shifting the balance more centrally over his middle. The result of that is his front end lightens, and I don't have to "pick" with the rein aids, he holds his frame by himself.

Lesson 4 was last night and Miss D was impressed in the difference between the first lesson and yesterday's. Last night Monty carried himself in a light contact and nice frame for most of the lesson. The transitions still need work but the improvement over 4 lessons has been notable. Miss D feels that by October we will be able to do at least Training level tests 1 and 2 and should pull respectable scores.

I have also been back to the trails after our access through the big stable down the street was revoked by the owner due to the accident a few weeks ago that I posted about here.

We now have to stay on the road around a blind bend. We hand walk the horses from our barn along this part of the street, then mount up at the top of the hill where the street is much quieter. It's about a quarter mile walk. The ladies that trail ride at my barn have done the new route and assured me if they could do it, Monty and I should be fine. E.W. and I decided to give it a go last Saturday.

As I also posted, with the longer, hillier stretch of paved road to travel, I decided to have caulk holes added to Monty's front shoes and to buy small, removable road studs to give him a little extra "bite" on the pavement so we could minimize risk of slipping. It worked beautifully. He was very secure, the studs did just what I hoped they would and they stayed on through the trails which can get stoney in some places.

I found it kind of fun to use the studs again. I hadn't used them since my serious showing days years ago. My favorite new gadget is the Safety Spin T-Tap. I used to hate the old style metal ones shaped like a letter "T". I was very leery about what would happen if the horse pulled away from me before I had it unthreaded from the shoe holes. This one is a round rubber "hockey puck" that screws in quickly and out just as fast and if the horse did step on it should not cause damage like the other style. If you are using shoe studs and need a T-tap, this is the model of choice!

And to round it off, my twins are still taking their riding lessons and they look forward to Thursday afternoon each week. Part of the excitement is the riding, part is seeing if they get a different pony to ride from the ones they have already ridden!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like things are excellent all around in the horse world with you at the moment! It is great to hear that the lessons are working out and that you like the trainer. It is also good that you can still go out on the trails...how are you feeling about entering the show? I know with the whole helicopter incident you were not sure you wanted to go over there anymore at all. I hope you do show...trainers wouldn't lie and tell a student they were ready unless they really were. Keep up the good work!

SolitaireMare said...

Thanks OTB! I don't think I'd have a problem going over there to show but I know E.W. doesn't want anything to do with "that place" and she was going to be my reader.

I suppose I could just memorize Tr1 and Tr2 or maybe Miss D will have someone there who can read for me. October will work out well because the hunter paces start in September and I can fit in the dressage show since there's only one local pace scheduled for Oct.

Monty might be happy to do a simple dressage test after galloping and jumping for 10 or so miles on a pace!

I've been reading your blog and I've been enjoying the Olympics as well! I was so thrilled to see Ingrid Klimke riding for Germany, I have been a long-time fan of her father Dr. Reiner Klimke.

I've also been following Heart's story. I've wanted to post but I have very mixed feelings about Heart's condition and don't want to be misread in my opinion. For now, I just hope things turn out good for all involved.