It’s really been an embarrassment of riches this week, getting to do three lessons while I’ve been on staycation. I wish I had a schedule and a budget that allowed me to do multiple lessons a week more often. Well, let’s be honest, with my crazy schedule, its more a budget issue than a schedule one. But sometimes you have to splurge a little, and multiple lessons in one week, doing XC, dressage, and jumping, was a wonderful opportunity to get us back working hard and improving over the winter so we’re ready to come out fantastic in the spring.
Friday I had a dressage lesson with Kelley, the first dressage lesson I’ve had since Carol headed south in mid-October. I really wanted to work on her suppleness, because she can get so stiff, especially after any time off, like she’s had lately. We started off working on a really great trot exercise, starting with a regular 3-loop serpentine through the ring, just asking her to relax and bend through it. As she got steadier, we dropped down to doing a 4-loop serpentine, but turning at the quarter lines rather than the walls, so we were really doing more like a series of 10 meter half circles. It was difficult at first, but it really settled her down and got her carrying herself so beautifully, and feeling pretty supple. That’s definitely something that’s going in my tool box for day-to-day warmup exercises.
We’d hoped to be able to do something similar at the canter, but with something more like the shallow single loop you see in 1st-3. Unfortunately, with the nasty cold rainy weather, the indoor was very crowded, and I wasn’t even able to ride a straight line down the outside, so we didn’t get to do too much with that. I was able to get a pass or two of it on the right lead, which is generally her harder direction. It was a little quick, but if felt really nicely balanced, and I’d definitely like to try working on it a bit more when the ring’s a little more useable. So we modified our plan a bit for the left lead, and since we were stuck in place, essentially, did a bit of work on working on basically cantering a square, bending on the corners and working on getting a few straight strides in between. Left is easier for her, since she wants to turn herself that way anyway, so I worked really hard on thinking about where her chest was pointing. I was really happy with how she was going by the end.
Today we had a little more fun. We did the weekly barn gymnastic lesson again this week, which is always a blast. She got a little feisty over being asked to do trotpoles, and wanted to get quick, but we had a few reminders that no, if you get quick you get to halt, and by that point things were turning into jumps rather than poles, so she was pretty happy. I really love doing gridwork on her, because she’s one that tends to overthink things, but she can’t really do that with a grid, because it’s set and does the thinking for her, essentially. Since it sets her up to succeed without much work on my part, it also allows me to work on me a bit more. I tried to work on keeping my upper body back, with some mixed results, but she was having fun while I worked on figuring that out.
She made that feel totally easy, and I think she has a lot of fun with it, too. I mean, look at her face!
Hopefully we’ll get to do a lot more of the gymnastic lessons over the winter. They’re a lot of fun, and do both of us a lot of good.