The cooking of Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch, the turkey was perfect, the timing worked out, and no one died of food poisoning. Of course, in a small house with 9 people in it, something is bound to happen, but luckily this presented itself just after dinner, when one of the tables collapsed, sending red wine, candles, and leftovers to the floor. But no one died, so it’s OK.
Anyways, regarding that lesson… If you really want to watch part of it (and I won’t take offense if you don’t), here’s the video- otherwise pics and talking below!
Though the temps were definitely in the lower 30’s, we did indeed drag ourselves out to the trainer’s farm for a lesson this Sunday. Foster has been making progress with his canter transitions in the draw reins, and I was eager to report this to our instructor and take advantage of her beautiful mirror set up an focus on weaknesses in our trot- namely, lateral work and lengthenings.
We warmed up at the walk and trot (and a bit of canter, in which there was minimal bracing -good boy!-) and then started with an exercise to get him thinking about crossing over behind. We were asked to do a head-to-the-wall leg yield, similar to a haunches in but with more angle. At the walk it’s okay to ask for more cross over than at the trot, and it helps stretch the muscles and get him mentally prepared for the real thing. Foster handled this exercise quite well, other than hopping up the bank that surrounded the dressage arena once (XC schooling and a dressage lesson- cool!).
Then we moved on to proper leg yields at the trot. Come down the quarterline, leg yield to B or E. Moving off of my left leg, the instructor describes him as a magnet to the wall, he tends to fall over too quickly. The solution to this, for now, is to break the leg yield into two parts, moving off the leg a few strides, then a stride going straight, then over again. This definitely helped Foster to balance and perform the movement more correctly. Moving off my right leg is more difficult, and I just need to be patient with him and if need be bring him back to a walk to explain more slowly what I am asking. We did get a couple leg yields done in this direction, it’s simply more difficult for him.
After a quick break to discuss we then moved on to shoulder in and then lengthenings. I explained that he doesn’t seem to have that 4th gear that my last two horses have had in the lengthenings- where they would explode off the ground and really enjoy the work, Foster gets a bit worried and rushing. One piece of advice I got is the try to verbally get him excited, which I will be sure to try at home and hope no one mocks me terribly. What also started to help was collecting, asking him to really sit on his haunches, and then drive forward for 12 meters or so. After doing this for some time I did finally feel a burst of impulsion when asking for the lengthening, and I think eventually this will help us get a true lengthening that last the diagonal length of the arena.
Overall, it was a great lesson and I have plenty to work on and new exercises to implement into our dressage schools. It was obvious to me that he is still a bit green, but every time he repeats an exercise he gets better. Foster felt great, and was very workmanlike the whole lesson, amazing for a 6 year old in freezing temperatures.