Today was my last lesson with Carol before she heads back to FL for the winter, so I decided to do a dressage lesson. I also decided to get out to the barn early, and give Cally a bath and start clipping her, since she was getting rather fluffy and way too hot and sweaty during even light rides. I got her mostly clipped, except for her hindquarters, prior to our lesson. Fortunately Carol didn’t mind teaching a somewhat embarassing looking horse.
We had a really good lesson, working on polishing up some of our basics for test next week. We started off with some walk/trot/walk transitions, working on not letting her just collapse back into the walk, but keeping her marching into it with active hind legs. Turns out the secret to that–and, incidentally, a good halt–is bringing my toes up! It gets me sinking down into my seat while using my core, and voila, lovely down transition! And without her getting giraffe-y which is what she always wants to do. From that, we moved on to the final bit of the test, which is essentially a 10M half-circle from B to X, then down to G for the halt. Carol marked off 10M and had me work on making the turn inside that, and letting her drift out just a little to get on my line if we needed to. I realized what I really needed to do was keep outside leg on in the turn, and push her through the turn with that. Things improved greatly then, and going the other direction as well. Our canter transitions have really gotten so much better this summer, and it showed in our work on those; they’re not perfect, but they’re getting much quieter, which is a big improvement. Finally, we did a little bit of lateral work, asking her to turn onto the center line at the trot and leg yield a few steps, then take a few steps straight, then leg yield the rest of the way over, correctly, without popping her right shoulder like she wants to do. That was difficult, especially to the left, because it’s really going against the way she wants to drag herself, but there was definite improvement there. Plus it’s something we can work on over the winter.
Then it was time to finish up clipping. Cally’s really good about it, so it really only took about 20 minutes to finish up, mostly clipping her rump and then going over the rest of her for touchups, which were mostly along her neck and belly. Since we’re showing next weekend, and she’s got some scratches going on behind that are a constant battle, I also decided to go ahead and clip her fetlock and her hind ankles. Front fetlocks, not a problem, she no longer looks ready to do her best draft horse imitation. Hind legs with scratches, not so happy about, and there was some threatening swinging around of hind feet, but I can’t really blame her for that–it doesn’t feel good, though we’ve made good progress on ameliorating them. The clipping will help a lot, too, as will the week of monsoons easing up.