Transitions Transitions Transitions

Today’s dressage school was so good. Just thinking about it makes me want to swoon.

We started with a quick hack around one of the grass fields. Dandy was not so sure about this silly idea. There are lions hiding behind every blade of grass, didn’t I know that? Despite Dandy’s misgivings, we made it through alive and I think he was just so happy to be back in the ring that he didn’t give the monsters in the mirror a second though. Oh, pony.

The goal of the day was transitions, transitions, transitions, and maybe a little bit of straightness if that was going well.

We started with the best of the simple transitions trot-walk-trot. Immediately Dandy was soft and supple in my hands. He maintained contact through the transitions and was even willing to stretch further than I’ve ever been able to get from him. For these transitions, we worked on keeping the contact and reacting immediately by trotting, asking for a walk for one step and immediately going back into a nice balanced trot. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Next up were the canter-trot-canter transitions. These were not quite as beautiful. The good: Dandy picked up the leads correctly each time no matter where in the arena I was asking for it, and when we went back to the trot he got supple and soft again. The bad, he did want to rush, a lot! Each time we went back to a trot we had to reestablish rhythm. So the game plan for next time is to work on rhythm and maybe getting a more back to front canter.

Then came the hard part: walk-halt-walk transitions. Now, if you remember my post from a few days ago, you’ll remember that I was having quite a bit of a hard time with these. What I realized in my work today was that part of the problem was that I was getting worked up so the real goal was to keep me calm and thinking positive. I’m glad to say I managed that! The goal for Dandy was to try to keep him more relaxed as he immediately wants to throw his head in the air and hollow his back when I ask him to halt. The first time I asked him to halt, Dandy started to panic hopped a few times. I made myself relax and pushed him on. The time after that he stopped but still tossed his head in the air. The third and last time I asked him to stop were the best he’d ever done. While I had minimal contact, his head wasn’t at the ceiling and he was relatively straight. Huge improvement for Dandy! Halting is one of the things I’m going to ask Kristen for help with on our lesson on Sunday.