Warm Up Act
July 9, 2014 Leave a comment
The last two nights’ lessons have been grueling – on Tuesday, my britches and shirt were still damp when I got out of my car at home, more than an hour and a half after the ride’s conclusion. Gross! I’m not complaining though, because in addition to burning about 1000 calories, the rides have also been was very gratifying.
Work continues on the new position, which is already improving my ability to refine my aids and get better work from Derby. However, since we’ve switched gears and I’m asking for better quality work from the Derbinator, I was reminded on Tuesday by the Ringmistress that I needed to spend more time warming up.
“Plan on 20 minutes,” Christy told me, laying down the law. “Start with walking, stretching and then lateral work. Move him around. Ten minutes. Then do the same trotting.”
Christy had us trot and trot, asking me at intervals what I felt. As we trotted around, I felt a stiff jog, then a little bit more motion, then finally, some swing and stretching. Then, and only then was I allowed to pick up the reins. Point taken, boss.
We worked on my position and got a good connection, and then it got better and better. I really felt plugged into the horse. During a walk break, Christy was reminding me that this effective, plugged-in seat is the foundation for all of the more refined work to which I aspire. “From there, things like shoulder-in will become easy,” she said.
Just for fun, I picked up the trot, and down the long side, checked to make sure my hips were pointed straight ahead, closed my fingers on my outside rein, and then turning my shoulders to the inside, I moved Derby’s shoulders inward. Shoulder in.
“Yes. Like that.” the Ringmistress agreed. For good measure, I did another one down the other side. Unfortunately, my phone had croaked, so there’s no video. You’ll have to trust me. Until we give it another shot on Thursday.
Last night we worked on my position and stilling my lower leg. Christy made the excellent point that as Derby carries himself, my leg stills. A large part of the problem, it seems, originates with my nagging when he’s behind my leg. So we worked on creating and holding a working gait, and making Derby accountable for maintaining it. Then, we focused on helping me develop more clarity with my aids, and improve my assessment of whether or not my aids elicited a response from the horse. Here’s a video clip, in which I see a lot to like. My leg looks better – straighter and less involuntary kicking – Derby is moving nicely and we’re doing a decent job of holding ourselves together.