Working It Out
|ready to dressage!|
I'm starting to feel a little less like a total and complete failure at riding ponies. Dino and I had a very productive schooling session yesterday, plus he is REALLY blowing his coat now and I'm starting to see little glimpses of short, shiny summer coat, which always makes me feel excited.
We rode in the 'arena' field for the first time - I'll have to take some better pictures of it - there is a flattish area up top which will eventually be our jump field, and then it goes down steeply to another flattish, rectangular area which is the dressage court. One great thing about our new home is that we will both be EXCELLENT at riding over terrain since we have to do it every day!
After watching my lesson videos a million times over, I tried to soften my arm and put more bend in my elbow even as I used the wide-set hand position. All I saw in those videos were bouncing, stiff red arms! There definitely needs to be some more conversation happening with my elbows and shoulders.
Dino was a little slow to start, but so much better than in our lesson! I think it helped that he peed AND pooped on our way down the hill to the dressage 'arena' - he was all nice and cleaned out with no excuses to be snarky because he was uncomfortable.
|the most handsomest.|
I wanted to focus on getting a good feel of the contact I'm supposed to have with the bit, as well as work on how exactly the heck I'm supposed to be using my thigh to move my pony laterally. I also wanted Dino to be prompt off my leg, which makes the rest of it a whole lot easier.
So our whole ride was fairly simple, just walk/trot/canter on the rail with some circles and changes of direction thrown in, as well as a couple jaunts up the hill. We both are starting to figure things out, which is super exciting! On my end, I'm starting to grasp how to use my thigh. It seems to be more of a laying against the saddle rather than a hard push, and the whole thing comes from the hip joint, which needs to be rotated IN. This is something that I've been taught and worked on in the past, but clearly I need a refresher course in thigh position! I also felt much more comfortable riding with wide-set hands, and was able to deal with Dino's diving in to the right by putting him on a smaller, more challenging circle or stopping and using turn on the forehand to get him off my right leg.
Dino was making a great effort at sorting things out as well; there were times that he got very behind the bit and curled up, but that tells me that he's trying different responses to my aids instead of the tried-and-true "brace and ignore" tactic. I'm actually feeling encouraged by it, and I think we're getting closer to finding the happy medium of contact.
The fact that our 'arena' isn't perfectly flat is a blessing in disguise as well. It forces both of us to deal with the terrain, and gives Dino a great workout. After working on a slight slope on a daily basis, he's going to be super fit and working on flat footing (i.e. at shows) will be WAY easier for him. He did some good canter work for me on both leads, and it was really fun to feel him power up the uphill sections of the field. AND I had ZERO anxiety about trotting or cantering downhill. THAT makes me feel great about starting our competitive season and like I'm not starting back at square one with XC.
|jumps waiting to be painted, and lovely green lipstick|
This weekend will hopefully bring some jump-painting fun, and maybe a XC school?