I am still working on really getting the canter I need, particularly on the left lead, for a clean flying change. I’m still working on being more consistent than I think I’m being.
The weather has been fairly gross the past couple of weeks and so I’ve had fewer rides than usual, and often they have been abbreviated…a glorified warm up, ending about when I’d start the work that builds more muscle and fitness, so we are in a bit of a maintenance mode, but I’m really trying to focus on making my warmup be consistent in the contact and quality, or when the ring is frozen or things are slippery, work on things in the walk.
I read a blog recently that had a seven tips for helping improve your riding position. One of them resonated with me and seems to be working, the tip was to ride with a rolled newspaper held between your elbow and body. I haven’t been actually using newspapers, but I’ve been visualizing that feel with my jacket and it seems to help my hands be more stable.
A figure that was working nicely to help get the change was a short diagonal, a really short diagonal, since we were using about 1/3 of my ring. Establish a good, uphill canter, volte, then out of that, short diagonal, I was up near C and turning shortly after K going straight towards the corner at M. In my arena we were working in an area about 15m x 22m.
It was working, and a few things are happening that help. I’ve gotten better at getting Bali straight and improving her throughness, and I’ve also started to relax about the change. Another thing I’ve been doing this winter is watching videos online (I’m subscribing to DressageTrainingOnline.com) , I’ve been watching quality riders working horses at the levels above where I am now, some I watch for Neuf, some for Bali. These allow me to see the fitness levels the riders & horses have at the levels, and listening to lots of different instructors or riders explain how they do something, or why they structure the ride plan gives me that important mental image of where I want to be.
Neuf was good, another lady had hauled in for a lesson and she arrived while I was in my lesson on Neuf. He was only mildly distracted for the trailer arriving, but when the new horse came to ride in the arena with him, he was considerably more distracted, but it wasn’t awful, and I was able to ride though it and get him focused on me again.
I really need to focus on separating my lower leg action and application from my hands. I struggle to not do stuff with my hands when I apply my lower leg. Especially left. I was having to actually SAY “left leg ON” over and over in my lesson. My left leg has some weakness and mild nerve damage, and so I really need to focus on improving my muscle reactions and rerouting that mental control so it works better. I’ll stay focused on that for a while and hopefully it will improve.