Our lesson started out on a high because Coach S passed us cantering along the side of road (we were late, oops) and had to look twice because she thought I was riding Ginger. Because "since when does Bridget have a canter like THAT?!" (Insert huge smiles)
|Floaty Ginger canter video still from forever ago.|
After having a quick chat with S about where we`ve been at this week (so much canter but a wipeout, excited pony loves jumping, but steering and softness a bit lacking. Also, my back hurts and I feel like I'm bracing my shoulder) we agreed flatwork was the order of the day, with some baby jumps to finish as a reward if pony behaved.
We started out with some haunches in at the walk. It`s time to increase the difficulty by asking for her to be straighter through her neck and really step under with her hinds. No issues there, so we moved on to some rollbacks (trot to halt parallel to the long side, then push the shoulders around -aka turn on the haunches towards the fence-, essentially doing a 180, then trotting out again). I know those are more of a western thing, but they`re really excellent for shoulder control, and force you to do accurate transitions in order to set yourself up right (you can`t let your horse fall on the forehand or stop crooked or your turn will stink!) My old dressage coach used to do a similar `square`exercise, only difference I can see being squares only require 90 degree turns and come dressage approved ;) S always has us start with exercises to `check in` on how much control we have of our four corners, and then usually builds exercises from there to address whatever she`s seeing.
|Pictures are just recent randoms to break up my giant rambly post|
Since today`s `check in`showed some stiffness in Bridget`s neck to the right, we moved on to some trot spirals, in which my feel in the rollback exercise became more apparent. Pony is tipping her nose in and bracing to the right and it just generally feels yucky. S`s opinion is since this is a newish thing she might just be sore herself and/or reacting to my stiff shoulder. Rather than keep doing it `wrong`and teaching her to brace, we came back to a walk, then the halt, and simply asked her to bring her nose around and stretch correctly through her neck without leaning on me. Mission accomplished with much groaning and complaining from pony, so we respected her opinion of it being pretty hard today and left well enough alone.
I know this is a big long detailed lesson recap and you`re probably wondering what exactly gives it best lesson status. I hope you`ll understand when I say it was all in how my ride "felt". It felt like she was totally with me a lot of the time. It felt like it was effortless, now and then. It felt she was carrying herself for minutes at a time. No more being excited about a moment - there were multiple minutes! And best of all, it felt like she was committed to giving me her best, After all our struggles this winter, that's a huge and unexpected treat. I'm sure our readers have read between the lines and figured out just how tough and independent (and frustrating!) this little mare can be, so even the small successes mean a huge amount to me. To have a few breakthroughs all in the same lesson qualifies for 'best ever' status!