Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Dressage lesson

Had a great dressage lesson with Z today. We started by me showing how we're going - what our practice has netted us. I'm still working a little too much in the trot. I started to quiet down even more, keep my center of gravity lower and use my core, not my hips. It's different and I'm unlearning some old habits. We started adding my arms to picture. My arms should stay at my sides and work with my core. I'm so non-specific about my arms when I ride. We talked about how the arms help the energy stay in the core and how much they can help the horse stay between your legs. I had to laugh at myself when I realized just how loud my arms are compared to what dressage riding is about.

Then, we started working on the canter. This is where things got very interesting. In Parelli-land, we're taught to push back in our saddles at the canter and stay in contact with the seat always. In dressage, you push forward and it's perfectly fine to get some lift out of your seat. My horse is never shy about telling me when I'm screwing up and cantering is an area where I never quite have it right for her. So, I'm happy to try something different and see if it makes Z happier. So, for dressage, my back is too round, my legs are too tight and my upper body is ... I can't remember... just incorrect.

So, we started over. She had me stand in the stirrups at the canter. She talked about being deep in the seat and what that means, really. It means following your horse's movement and filling in the holes with your body. Your horse rises, you rise - your horse goes lower, so do you. Makes sense and follows what I'm doing with Parelli. I rode at the canter standing, then found a place to rejoin Z after a few circles and sat back down. She cantered for longer and she was definitely less irritated.

Then, we talked about my inside hip being ahead to follow the lead my horse was on. To exaggerate to teach, she head me look OUTSIDE the circle - which lifted my hip and put it forward. I've spent a lot of time looking in the circle or even on the circle, so that was bizarre to me. But, surprising, it helped Z stay on the circle and her canter started to feel more up and down and less stretched out and fast. After a while, when I wanted to trot, she would offer the canter. Now, she's an Anglo-Arab so it's not any surprise that she'd choose the faster route, but normally when I ask for a canter I get back a sneer first and foremost. Now it was her idea! I also noticed that I was losing my stirrups less in the canter. I should have more weight on the stirrups so my stirrups stay put and I should feel like I'm standing.

Then, we worked on sitting trot. I feel pretty good about that and I think my instructor was happy enough with it. She also commented on how good we looked at the walk. That was nice to hear! We've been practicing a lot. I've practiced on all my horses over the past 2 weeks. I've never been so conscientous about how I sit the walk and I realize now what I was missing. I'm following each footfall, in rhythm with my horse, more out of my horses way than ever.

I now have to keep working on NOT working so much in the trot. I have to stay lower, do less, and be in more harmony while rising. We talked about bareback riding and how my legs should be straighter and my back straighter to ride bareback better. Maybe one of these times, I'll take off the saddle so she can coach my bareback seat.

It was a great lesson and Z was so cool. She's a great partner. She's learned teh stick to me game very well and when I get off, she always stays right with me - all the way to the barn. Or whereever I go. She's teaching me so much - I know why having an opinionated horse is a GOOD thing. I also feel better in my english saddle than I ever have. Time to switch and spend more time in it.

We start Nina in 2 weeks. Looking foward to that! Also, she's been talking about me in her clinics because I've been giving her some advice for the horses she's training. I've been helping her think outside the box and motivate the horses through horse psychology vs. "make". She's so elated about the changes she's seeing. Anyway, her clinic students have asked her to bring me along to a clinic! I, of course, would be thrilled to do it! I may be flying to Houston in the next month or two to experience a dressage clinic and share horse psychology information. I so love my life!

Zarah: 2 hours

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