After my review of the First Level tests, I had a laundry list for the barn manager to work on in our lesson, and we tackled a few of the items on there.
So, in no particular order:
- I need to unlock my pelvis from the rest of my spine and from my lower leg. I was getting it too glued into my spine, especially in the canter. Lots of sitting trot work is in my future to help loosen this. In short, I was too ramrod straight and thus was blocking his back and his forward impulsion. The best ways to think about this were to drape through my shoulders and soften-but-carry with my abs.
- I also needed to work on quieting my lower leg. The movement that I should have been absorbing in my hips and pelvis was translating down to my lower legs, which were swinging far too much. Thinking about making them sticky to Tristan’s side – not giving an aid, just sticking – helped immensely. So did some detailed conversation about the way I rotated my thighs in the saddle. For dressage, I need to think more rotating up and forward. (For hunters/jumping, it’s back and down.)
- Finally we took apart the leg yields and I have a couple of notes on those. Number one is strength. He is more reluctant to step under with his right hind than his left. (Nothing new there.) I need to think about incorporating more lateral and pole work to strengthen hocks/stifle/SI to allow him to step under better. The next thing to think about is keeping straightness even in lateral movement. If I’m not getting a quality step over, go back to straightness.
- To help in the leg yields and in the control over the smaller circles of First Level, we worked a lot on my aids for bending and suppleness. I need to work on making better use of my outside leg when asking for bend, so I can help encourage bend behind the saddle.
In all, a really good lesson. I came away with a lot to think about and work on, but also feeling like we’ve made some noticeable strides forward. He was more forward and responsive and it makes me feel great to work on a fundamental, get it in place, and then feel him surge up and forward through his back. Like now that we’re re-cementing these pieces, he knows what comes next and when I set him up/help him out properly, he seems happy to know the right answer. We had a couple of lovely springy canters, in particular.
I was also very pleased that three days after pulling his shoes, he was quite sound and comfortable! I owe a longer post on how that process has been going, but *knock wood* so far, so good.