Shout out to Grain Before Groceries for her wonderful post on dealing with fear and confidence issues. She linked to another post which really hit home for me. If you're dealing with, or have ever dealt with anxiety and self doubt in your riding, I'd totally recommend reading it. I think "Always one more time" might be my new mantra when the going gets tough.
Feel free to get lost in the above linked sites, the rest of my post today is just a nerdy in depth lesson recap. Nothing to see here, move along. :)
Bridget showed up with her 'not playing this game' face on. So we had an inverted, pushy, quick, and uncooperative pony. The good part? I got to see how S handles that! I'll recap the two recent clinicians quickly as well so we can compare:
Dressage lady: To sum it up: MORE. Take that energy and make her work. More contact, more forward, more off the leg, more balanced. Result: Brilliance in the moment, but eventually pony shut down and refused to play anymore. I will save her ideas for show situations where addressing the issue directly isn't an option.
Cowboy: Take away her power. No outside rein, minimal contact on inside. Circles, lots of them, smaller/larger to regulate speed as needed, focusing on pony tuning into my legs and seat and relaxing into self carriage. Result: It worked, and I liked how non confrontational it was. but pony is fit and it took almost an hour of trot to get there with any sort of regularity. Sidenote: since it was the first time using that exercise there is a good chance she might 'give up' sooner if I made it a regular part of our warm up. Or learn to evade me by popping out through my leg ;)
|Ginger wonders why Bridget must always be the rebel|
S: A happy medium. Keep your outside rein, ride inside leg to outside rein, but use circles to your advantage. Leg on, make her work, but supple her left and right. Reward good behaviour and focus by letting her trot out and forward down the long side. Lots and lots of transitions to halt, and back up when she gets heavy in my hand or on my leg. Results: The winner, although I may alternate with cowboy program to prevent a backslide from too much nagging and too many downward transitions getting her thinking backwards again.
|Lesson set up like so to start and then we raised the poles before and after the cross rail on the center line, canter poles on the long side...scroll down for a drawing of layout and pattern we rode|
The rest of our lesson involved a simple gymnastic on the center line, and two canter poles set a stride apart on each long side. Bridget got super excited by that, so we spent a bit of time trotting the center line gymnastic, then halting and backing at the fence, then doing a 180 degree turn on the haunches and trotting back out over the centerline gymnastic again. I liked this exercise because it got her nicely balanced and thinking. Once she settled in and stopped attempting to rush, we added a leg yield to the wall after the center, then circle at a trot and up the center again. Finally we ended by going over the centerline gymnastic, leg yielding to the wall, then cantering large around the ring utilizing our canter poles on the long sides. S kept it real by setting them slightly long for Bridget, then shortening them up. This is all in an effort to teach her she can have an adjustable canter. It totally messed her up at first,but she is smart and I felt like she was getting the idea by the end of the ride. It will be many hours of building the strength before we have a respectable canter, but the pieces are slowly falling into place.