Hard stuff.

I’ve had two overnight trips to New York inside the span of a week, which has limited my time in in the saddle lately.  I had a good lesson on Monday night, and then an even better ride tonight.

In the interim, Christy got on Derby while I was away, and reported back to me that he felt very disconnected.  He doesn’t use his body as a whole.  He may soften to the rein, but he pops a shoulder out or a hip in when doing so. I need to get him into the outside rein, and I need to get control of all the parts.

We started out working on that tonight, which required me to really use my legs and seat, and to also ride Derby’s shoulders, not steer his face.  I practiced at the walk, trying desperately to feel what Christy felt, and to feel the difference when I got it right.  We discovered that when I used the “pirouette” mental image, in which I’m imagining that I’m riding a pirouette, I can move Derby’s shoulders pretty well.  However, the exercises I did tonight are going to be incorporated into my warm up, because this is definitely not habit yet.

Then we moved into doing some patterns.  A line of five trot poles was lined up down one of the quarterlines, so Christy had me start practicing riding the shoulders at the trot by doing a serpentine down one long side, a trot-halt-trot transition at the ends, and then trotting through the trot poles down the other side.

Trot-halt, mind you.  Something I’ve not schooled. Happily for me, we already have a good downward, and Derby takes half-halts well.  We got trot-halt down quickly.  However, the halt-trot upward – which is something that is required even at Intro and that I have schooled, wasn’t great.  After enduring several less than inspiring attempts, Christy upped the ante, asking me to do canter transitions in the corners, just a couple strides after the halt, and then bringing it back to a trot down the long side.  We managed this new addition well, and afterward – when Derby was finally in front of my leg – the halt-trots improved.

Then Christy said she wanted to do some test practice, so she put the poles away to clear some space for us.  In the interim, I was a good girl and dropped my stirrups, doing rising trot until Christy was ready.

Christy informed me that she would be calling movements to me as I rode, so I needed to have the horse in front of my leg and on the aids.  All right.

We started out at the working trot, tracking right after our salute, and then circling at B.  I had an inkling of what was up when we changed rein across the diagonal, and sure enough, as I neared C I heard Christy ask for the canter between C and H.  We made the transition accurately, and rode a decent canter circle before transitioning downward.  I lost my connection a bit, and the next movement, the stretchy circle, wasn’t great.  As we followed Christy’s directions, I was pretty happy with how we fared.  We were pretty accurate, and though the ride lacked polish, it was respectable.

“Was that old Training 1?” I asked her when we were done.

“Nope.  That was new Training 2,” came the reply, along with a pleased grin. “You’re not going to improve at Intro by schooling Intro.  You’re moving up!”

This is so exciting for me.  I’m hoping to get out to another schooling show in September, before giving the IDCTA dressage schooling show championships a try in October.  It would be really fun to ride a training level test yet this year!

About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital marketing executive and strategist with a long track record of success in content marketing, social media, demand generation, event marketing, sales enablement, product management and business development.

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