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I’ve done a lot of work at one time or another in dressage lessons, working on the use of outside rein (and outside leg) as a turning aid.  It’s incredibly essential, and I’m not sure why it’s just clicking now that it’s a valuable tool over fences as well.  I mean, I know jumping is just flatwork with speed bumps, but sometimes you need someone to point out the dots connecting the two points.  This is why you take lessons with good people.  They’ll notice you’re not connecting the dots on your own and point it out!

Outside rein was a key part of my lesson on Wednesday, as we did a lot of really fun bending lines and turns.  We started off easy, with some serpentines and figure-8s at a trot, while Holly reset the fences from medium pony striding to proper horse striding, then made some easy canter circles that slowly incorporated a low fence, which woke Cally up and you could instantly tell she was happier that she was going to get to JUMP THE THINGS!

We then headed down the outside line, set as a 3 to bending 3. and since we were coming off the left lead, and Cally likes to drift right, I had to keep the outside rein a steady barrier in that bending 3 to make it happen.  I also didn’t keep quite enough leg on the first time through, so we were a little underpowered in the middle; the next time through felt much better as I allowed her to go a little more forward, and kept a steady line to the last fence.  We did the 3-to-3 a few times both ways, then started putting together little courses, to start getting us ready for MAEF.  Our ring isn’t huge, and Holly likes making the ring work to teach us to ride better, because if we can do it in a tight ring, it’ll be easier in a big ring.  Plus the indoor at PGEC is a kind of tight oval anyway, so it’s good practice for having to do things off rounded corners not ones where you can use the deep corners to get a line.

The first course, I really concentrated on two things: letting her go forward to the fences rather than trying to pick at a distance, and releasing just a little more with my hands.  And we totally nailed it, from the 3-to-3 to the long approaches to a pretty tight bending 4!  Cally really felt like she lit up and was hunting through the turns, and really loving her job.  And while I had to concentrate on where I was going and where I wanted my corners to be, it felt so easy and so FUN.  Like, things are clicking for both of us, and we’re really starting to put things together, and do it well.  I mean, this course felt awesome.

Right? If we can go in the ring any lay that down, Holly says we should come home with some decent eq ribbons. And letting her go forward but actually sitting up and waiting to the base has me looking like an eq pro, too. Is it too late to be an eq junkie in your mid-30s?

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