Ride more uphill

Easier said than done on Bali.

Today I had my third lesson with Linda Zang.  I’m averaging about once a year…possibly less often, but I am getting gems out of my lessons that really complement my lessons with Inga.

Short notes, since taking a lesson before work means I need to get all my work done when coming into the office a bit late.

Linda wanted me to ride Bali more uphill, so I started doing some trot/walk/trot transitions.  This was the right idea, but I need polish and to stop throwing away the contact in the upward transition (Every dressage instructor I’ve ever had is nodding in violent agreement to this one!) and this is easier said than done for me, I’m improving, and you’d think I’d be tired of spending good money to be told the same thing, but I am improving.  Old habits are really hard to replace.  The next few tips came during my working to get Bali more uphill using the transitions.

My hands are still my biggest problem area.  I know this, and I honestly do work on it, and I seem to make progress at a snail’s pace.

Today, my tendency to overflex to the left showed up.  When I started posting, my left hand had a mind of its own, and I started leaning a bit, and my hands were wider and my left hand pulling, hence the overbending.

Today’s fix (ok, so it is an improvement, because I’m pretty sure a fix is a lifelong pursuit) was to take the whip in my left hand, and hold it on her shoulder.  To keep the whip pressing on her shoulder, not going back over my leg, I had to apply a bit of inward pressure, and voila…my hand was steadier, I wasn’t pulling.  Add a bit more leg, and ride her into a steady outside contact and things got better.

To fix my leaning, I thought of posting my inside shoulder towards her outside ear. Riding into the outside aids.

Bali is not the most forward horse, so a common theme in all my lessons is that I work too hard, she needs to work harder.  This was true today.

Linda had me halt, put my hands forward, shorten my reins, keeping my hands forward, then ride forward.  Since I’d put my hands out before shortening my reins, I did not feel like I was pulling, then I rode Bali up into that forward hand position.  Then, the hard part, was asking for more flexion with my hands forward, this takes a bit more core strength to hold my own hands out and have Bali go forward to them and not have them bouncing all over the place, but then to add a bit more collection, she had me start to add more bend to my elbows.

During this, I said “like Charlotte’s hands” and Linda said “Exactly, it works really well for her”.

Another phrase that really worked was “push your chest out between your elbows” which is a slightly different set of muscles to bring my elbows back, but it worked well.

After that was nice both ways, we went to canter.  When I get Bali truly straight, she’ll throw in a beautiful flying change as an evasion.  Linda noticed that, so we worked on changes.

The long diagonal to a flying change is my enemy.  It is like the long approach to the single oxer to a hunter rider…too much time to muck it up.  So, we went back to a serpentine, using the top 10-12 m of the arena, I’ve done this with Inga and it works, and it worked well today.  I’d canter left, turn at the first letter, diagonal towards somewhere between the centerline and quarterline, change when she was straight.  My best one was when I thought I’d turned late, so I didn’t think “release” because I didn’t have time…which tells me that all my instructors are right, I’m throwing away the contact, Bali drops onto her forehand, and we lose our good uphill balance that I work so hard to get.

Riding with my hands more in front of me, riding Bali forward into that really did help her be more forward.  I need to do more riding from my leg into a more forward hand, less pulling her back to me, but sending her out to me.

Now back to work, hopefully I’ll be able to make some improvements and get back to Linda in a month or so…not in 9 months!


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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