Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dressage Lesson

So today I was finally able to connect with Carolyn, the dressage lady (at least that's what I call her!).  I'd never ridden with her before but have heard nothing but good things about her.  To say I was excited is an understatement.

So the lesson.  I'm a bit confused on how to describe it.  I can't really seem to describe what Carolyn told me but Charlie felt great almost the whole time.  The one thing that's sticking with me is her analogy for getting the horse to step under themselves.  She likens it to an inch worm - basically, you need collect the stride, thinking of lifting the back up (like an inch worm) and then you soften, allowing the horse to stretch down.  She really wanted him to be forward and in front of the leg.  By the end of the lesson, Charlie was forward, very consistent in the bridle, and really stretching through his back.  It's really cool to feel him swing his back when he's strutting his stuff!  I don't know that I've ever really felt that before Charlie.  It was definitely interesting and I'm definitely going to ride with her again.  I really wish Mom could have come to video although Carolyn does the headset thing so not sure the camera would have picked up what she was saying.

Oh!  Almost forgot!  She did help with the walk a bit.  Her theory on why he gets fussy when you first pick up the reins harkens back to his racehorse days.  When someone picks up the contact, that means something is going to happen.  To counter this, when I pick up the reins, I need to think about just taking a light, soft feel of his mouth while maintaining the tempo with my seat and leg.  When Charlie starts to kind of "rest" on the bit, that's when I should ask him to come more round always maintaining the tempo with my leg and seat.  If he gets fussy, I should just reestablish the soft contact and wait for him to "rest" again.  The seemed to work quite well - it almost seemed to calm him down since I wasn't forcing the issue.  I think this is the same idea as what Cherie told me, just a different way of saying it.

Another lesson tomorrow - didn't really plan it that way but that's how it worked out.  Probably good for me to have back-to-back reinforcement. :)

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