Lesson Recap: Dressage

You know that feeling when you just had a really good lesson? To me, a really great lesson is a mixture of mistakes, so you can obtain the advice that makes the lesson worthwhile, and success. Too much success (not an often occurence!) and you wonder why you paid for the lesson. Too many mistakes, and you get disheartened.

To start with, Eliza hopped on and really loosened Foster up at the base of the neck, which is what we have been striving for over the last few weeks. Lots of changes in direction, and upward and downward transitions insisting that he stay soft and balanced. I was glad to hear (and see) that he was already improving from her training ride, which means I am able to replicate the concept on my own with some success.

Looking snazzy for his lesson in all black

Looking snazzy for his lesson in all black

Then I hopped on and we worked on transitions with the soft neck and balanced connection. Lots of very small releases kept him from getting on the forehand or becoming stiff in the trot and canter work.

Afterwards we headed to the covered arena (mirrors!) to run through the Novice B test. For the most part I was able to keep the quality of work the same, though it was a lot harder in the small arena- transitions come up very fast! I even got to watch a video of it all afterwards, which was super helpful in seeing exactly what she was telling us. I’ve got a game plan for every movement, and if I can replicate that ride at the show, I will be very, very, pleased!

Novice B test

Novice B test

As usual, for my own benefit, here are the main points to remember (yeah, there’s a lot):

  • Warmup: Get him loose in the neck (changes in direction), then collect/balance (transitions between/within gaits), then push forward into the show frame
  • Rider issues: Engage my core to keep him balanced (and at the walk- I let my hips swing too much!), and elbows by my side! No need to look like a durn duck. Keep the reins short.
  • Think shoulder-fore down centerline to keep him straight
  • Miniscule releases to keep him balanced (at canter too!)
  • Following hand in the free walk
  • Push more forward in the 20 meter trot circles to show a bit more brilliance
  • Prepare for every. transition. (Including turns!)
  • Sit into the canter to trot transition, even if it feels like crap
  • Stay a hair off the rail in the free walk to medium walk transition, leg yield to wall, using outside rein to keep him together
  • Leg on in the final halt, don’t let him go splat!

Phew! That’s a lot to remember! (Un)Luckily, our lesson with Doug for tonight was cancelled, so I’ll be practicing the above work instead to really cement it in our brains. Then another jump school tomorrow, light dressage Thursday, and off to the show we go!

5 thoughts on “Lesson Recap: Dressage

  1. I think one of the best things about blogging is being able to use it as a personal journal of sorts for notes from lessons. I think it really helps when you want to go back and see, oh yeah, X was the other thing she mentioned. Or wow, six months ago we were struggling with Y and look at us now!

    • Absolutely! I have been reviewing my lesson recaps before my rides so I can be reminded of my ‘homework’ before I get in the saddle. It’s amazing how much there is to practice after just one 45 minute lesson!

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