Hi guys, these are just my clinic notes for day 1, and may not make a ton of sense or be completely coherent - I'm just writing my first impressions and thoughts before they flee my brain completely. No pictures either, sorry, so feel free to skip this one if you want something lighter :)
Day 1 of the clinic started out super windy and rainy and the poor horses were going nuts this morning when I got to the barn. Neither would eat or drink and they are both just generally looking stressed. I've been mixing their grain with tons of water so they drink a bit more, but they've definitely dropped a little weight and aren't cleaning up their meals. At least they had some weight to spare and we head back home tomorrow to their happy home barn!
My day 1 lesson recap:
The instructor was very, very, very picky. I don't mind having my riding picked apart, but I feel like some of the expectations for Bridget were a little much. She really wants you to ride with a lot of contact, which was new for Ms Bridget, and poor pony was never allowed to have her head above or below vertical for a second. That alone is a huge ask for a baby pony who only started to be somewhat consistent about being on the bit a week or so ago! We did a ton of transitions, again focusing on having the pony on the bit throughout (even into the canter), some spirals, some bigger and smaller trots, and a bunch of serpentines. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as exercises go, but what struck me was that she really expected perfection in every single stride. I`m on the fence about that because while I get that only perfect practice is going to make perfect, on the other hand this a green pony, and I like to encourage the small things and keep it fun for her too! Even a momentary bobble on an up or down transistion meant we had to do it again. And I mean momentary - minute changes in balance. Midge tried her heart out today, and the results were by all accounts impressive, but I`m unsure whether she`d want to play along at that intensity level in the long term, Mentally and physically I feel like that would be way too much for her at this point. The only 'gimme' Bridget got was a loose rein walk break for one 20 m circle 'because she is a baby'
As for me? I need to focus more on where my seatbones are. I like to weight my inside stirrup a bit too much. I am too generous with my reins in general as well, particularly the right one. I need to remember to look up, shoulders back, as always. I take too long to find my trot diagonal when posting - she wants me to be rising a stride or so into the exercise, not 3 or 4 or whenever I think about it. Dressage reins bight is on the right always - it's not a flat class where you keep them to the outside! Switch diagonals not always at the centerline, but whereever you change the bend. Overall, she said a lot of the little things I am lazy about make the first impression of my riding not the best, when I am actually a decent rider. I don't know whether I should be happy about the decent part or embarrassed at the lazy part - this lady wasn't big on compliments or positives so the comment came across more as 'you look bad - smarten up!' lol :) This is all homework I am expected to be better at by tomorrow - I sense failure in my future :)
Where I'm left a little confused is that she was SUPER picky and fussy with me and one other horse/rider combo. Everyone else got a free pass or a quick reminder on a lot of the things listed above, particularly the horses - many of whom are much more experienced than mine. While it was nice to get so much attention and advice, I was a little taken aback that she seemed to take us quite so seriously as a 'dressage' combo when I had only asked for help with balance and canter transitions because 'my pony is green and can't canter on a circle with a rider yet'. I do believe I mentioned I mostly trail ride and want to event one day - seriously, I tried my hardest to not fall under the DQ train, but I got crushed and spat out in a little less than an hour :)