I had another great lesson with Kristen today though it was very tough with this cough just refusing to go away. The moment I get to the barn with all the dust and start working, I start hacking! It made doing the canter work extremely difficult. But I pushed through and got some really nice and soft over the back work from Dandy. I also got a fabulous complement as Kristen thinks Dandy is a very handsome boy. He’ll never be a big fancy dressage horse but that’s a’ok with me!
Most of work today was done at the trot on a 20 meter circle. Like I was suspecting, Dandy is “cheating.” He’s a smart horse, sometimes unfortunately, and he’s learned where to hold his head so he has a beautiful headset but he’s not really moving from his hind end. Lucky me he’s a smart horse and, now that I know how it’s suppose to feel, I can move him through that stage and get real movement and the starting of collection.
The big problem today was getting him to move off my leg again as I was letting him drop in on the circle. With that, I also learned all the dimensions of a standard dressage ring so that’s good to know! My 20 meter circle was way to small. What I’m working on now is not only getting Dandy to soften and stretch into the contact, but doing that without letting him drop his shoulder into the circle.
To help with this, we started working on leg yields! I am so excited. I spent ages trying to get Sheena to leg yield. I spent one lesson trying to learn how to do a leg yield on William. Both were a lesson in futility and frustration. With Kristen’s help, by the end of our time I was getting Dandy to leg yield at a walk – on both sides – from the quarter line to the rail and getting there before B/E! Now, are they great leg yields? No, but they’re a start. I was getting the proper bend and he was moving. Eventually we’ll get them more even; i.e. not leading with his shoulder but moving over his entire body together.
Of course then I went right back on the 20 meter circle to work on my geometry. But it was good. My circles got better because I could keep Dandy out, most of the time. It will get more consistent as I get stronger. Guess I better start working out on my off days!
Dandy is gaining a lot of weight but both Kristen and I would like to see him really “balloon” up before winter comes. She suggested rice bran but since I still have a full bag of Purina Amplify in the garage I’m going to start with that.
Starting in 2013, the USDF is adding a Training Level Freestyle test! I’m hoping to show Training Level this upcoming year (all dependent on a job, of course) and I’m super excited to do a freestyle. I know they’re pretty boring at this level but this is the kind of stuff I love.