September 4, 2011 1 Comment
Finally. Finally finally finally. We had a really decent ride today, following a nice effort yesterday. Things are starting to come back together, and I’m relieved.
When we started picking at my position a couple weeks ago, one of the things I was struggling with was getting Derby to move forward beyond a sluggish trot. Christy theorized that my closed hip angle was actually sending Derby “whoa” signals, even as I was asking for “go.” As we worked on my position, Derby started moving out when the situation up on his back improved. That was great but those moments were fleeting.
The good news is that things are definitely better. Yesterday we had a very nice ride. Derby was a lot more forward and I worked hard on staying balanced, especially as I circle to the right, since I’ve noticed that I tend to collapse to the right, causing Derby to lean inward. I rode lots of patterns. paying attention to my balance, position and aids going left, and then maintaining those going to the right. The quality of Derby’s trot and our balance through the turns improved.
This long German dressage term doesn’t have an exact English translation. It means looseness, but with suppleness, energy and throughness. It’s hard to describe in words, but I see it now when I watch Christy ride Remy, or when she lets Liam stretch after they’ve been working. The horses go forward with enthusiasm, but with balance. They are on Christy’s aids, and work beautifully over their backs. I want to do that. And today, we came close.
With images of Christy’s recent beautiful rides on Remy fixed in my mind, I mounted up today, determined to build on my good ride yesterday. Right off the bat, I had a really nice, swingy walk. Derby was marching along with purpose and energy. After walking around on the buckle, I gathered up the reins and started to work on suppling. We flexed left, flexed right and did some shallow serpentines. The contact improved, at least it felt like it did, so I decided to check. Turning onto a long diagonal, I fed Derby some additional rein, and he stretched nicely. I sponged the outside rein, and pushed with my inside seatbone. He stretched a bit more. This was a real improvement.
Circling right, I asked Derby to trot, and got a prompt response, and a decent trot. I repeated some of the suppling exercises we did at the walk. The contact improved even more, as did Derby’s trot. Taking advantage of the much-improved and steady contact, I decided to work on adjustablity within the trot. Heading into a turn on the short side, I half halted, and asked Derby to hold a smaller trot, and he did. Turning onto the long side, I kept the contact, and increased my my post. Derby responded hugely, stepping out into a really solid, forward, ground-covering trot, pushing from behind. I half halted into the next corner, and felt his back really come up. Down the next long side, his trot increased in power. For fun, we did some nice shoulder in, and Derby responded easily and willingly.
I was thrilled. Around we went, changing directions, getting quality and power both ways. We repeated the shoulder in. Derby’s back was up, and it felt great. so I fed him a bit more rein produce a stretch as we trotted. I did dump him onto his forehand, but I sat up, half-halted, and we recovered.
This was, by far, the best ride I’ve had on Derby to date. I think Christy really nailed it when she spotted the fact that my old position was blocking Derby’s forward gears. I’m excited for my lesson tomorrow night to show the boss what we’ve found!