I totally missed the window for posting my clinic write up from last month, so I definitely wanted to post it this time.
A friend in Maryland has been organizing clinics with Todd Flettrich, who represented the USA at WEG this year in Kentucky. Last month I decided to give it a try, one day, to see how I liked it, and it was a really good ride. So this month, I signed up for both days.
I took Bali. We started out and immediately got positive feedback for improving from last month. My seat is looser (yay), I have been practicing using the exercises to soften her jaw and get her rounder, and so we continued on the same path.
Lots of leg yield, head to the wall, and that wall was often imaginary, shoulder out. Every time she would brace against my hand, it was leg yield to the wall, get the roundness back, and return. As we progressed through the rides, the amount of leg yield was reduced and near the end, it was just the feeling of leg yield aids to get her to soften her jaw and come rounder. There was a lot more emphasis on balance, and as the balance improved, the forward was there.
Music to my ears is that Todd thinks I’m working too hard. So, I need to be more distinct in my aids and corrections. Vary my correction for the “offense”. I’ve fallen into the habit of using the same amount of tap with the dressage whip for everything. Rounder…tap, more pace…tap, bigger steps…tap. Time to increase the tap vocabulary. One thing he had me do was tap the shoulder when she’d lean or get heavy. He had others do that also, and it seemed to work to get the horse’s focus lifting. I really need to not work so hard in the walk. The work on getting her round, using the leg yield action helped a lot. Also, I’d do that LY into the wall, straighten, then quarter turn on the haunches. That worked nicely.
Elbows back. This one I had to ask about, Lauren likes my elbows more in front, more like this (I think, that is how it feels) Elbows only is what I’m looking at in these. The upper arm being more or less vertical, and the longer/shorter reins part is what I’m pondering.
and Todd wants them more like this (again…I think).
But I don’t think anyone wants my heel like that.
In shoulder in and leg yield, I need to make sure I don’t lock my hip when I use my leg. Keep the swinging hip, and that helps keep the rhythm. Keep my eye on the outside ear (hmm, seems that was what Richard was telling me also).
I need to raise the bar, I know this, I have been told this by just about everyone, but egads, I feel so MEAN, but then I watched Siobhan riding her 4 year old mare, and saw how nicely she was going, and Siobhan is a really nice professional rider (she started Bali a few years ago) and it was good for me to watch a young horse being ridden.
I need to learn to recognize the feel of her coming through her back, and reward it. Know when she loses that, and act upon that.
Last we worked on lengthenings, the oh-so-elusive lengthenings. I’ve been letting her body get longer and her steps do not get much longer, or sometimes, shorter as she tightens in the back. So, no lengthening of the neck for now, going down the long side, just ask for lengthen, come back, make sure she stays round, rinse repeat. do this every day. I was doing them rising also.
Then, once I got home, I rode Tanq, and worked on using the same principles with him. Not as steep of a ly, but he is much greener. I ended up quasi-singing to him, almost under my breath, but it was really me reminding myself to not throw away the contact, be like side reins, but he seemed to enjoy it. Or maybe, once he had his one “I don’t wanna”, he was enjoying working inside the boundary. He also likes the looser seat.
Shows are over, it is time to tie a piece of baling twine back onto my D rings of the saddles for winter. Re-stabilize the hands.