Yesterday I had Eliza out for our first dressage lesson in, oh, 9 months. I introduced her to Darcy, expressing that I hoped to get her a bit more sensitive to my leg (currently Darcy is very much a kick ride) and make sure I was making the right decisions in general.
We talked about setting the expectation to be in front of the leg even from the ground. So walking in hand, I’m now to carry a whip, and Darcy is expected to march along with me, instead of meandering behind. In the walk under saddle, same thing- we march, and I overemphasize moving my hands with the motion of her head to encourage Darcy to use her neck. Moving my hands also releases my hips and further encourages the motion.
One note that I thought was interesting in the walk was regarding leg cues. In general, at all gaits, I am to keep my legs very quiet and hanging along her side, then lightly ask for a forward response- if I don’t get it, then I quickly ask strongly with both legs to get a reaction. At the walk though, using both legs isn’t as helpful, and it was in Eliza’s opinion that especially on a mare, squeezing with both legs creates more of a negative response. Instead, I am to alternate left and right leg aids for a few strides to encourage her to walk forward.
Also of note was our discussion around sitting the trot. Darcy’s a round girl, and rather bouncy to sit her working trot. She can also tend to tighten her back when you sit, which makes for an even bouncier experience. So I am to practice sitting her trot, but not until she is truly pushing into the contact. Continue to sit even if she tightens her back and in Eliza’s words “until you have improved the trot” before posting again. This really only happens over a few strides, but ideally eventually I’ll be sitting more and more. It’s a good tool to have in our pockets.
Overall Eliza was impressed with Darcy, and everyone who sees her go ends up grinning and saying just how cute she is! She’s definitely a different kind of ride from Foster, but in Eliza’s opinion is a great horse to make me a more well rounded rider, and I couldn’t agree more.
That’s awesome you were able to get a lesson!
I’m going to try your two suggestions with my guy who can be a bit grumpy about going forward (walking on the ground with a whip and alternating leg pressure). Thanks for the ideas!
She is so cute!!! Out of curiosity what has she done in the past?
you need this mare!
I have to many horses!!! I’m trying to downsize not upsize 😉
She’s done a lot of intercollegiate dressage and some interscholatic equitation at 2’3″. She’s a tidy little jumper!
sounds like a really great lesson. i’ve only ever really ridden dressage on just my mare – except when i recently rode my trainers horse. and it was an entirely different experience. seems like getting that experience on all different types of rides is really beneficial for that reason!
SOOO cute! I like the sitting trot suggestion, Prisoner is also round and bouncy!
Alternating the leg pressure has been helpful with my over sensitive guy too actually. We do it a lot in our warm up, alternating left and right to match his own hind steps, and it gets him less worried about my leg doing stuff, and walking up into the bridle while pushing better from behind instead of getting upside down when I squeeze with both at the same time. It’s super helpful, and I can see how it would help in your case as well! She’s so cute. I can’t wait to see more of her!