Lesson recap: Break it down into steps…

Lesson today! Rudy was great. He was a trooper jumping around a few extra times in order for me to learn something.

We started off the lesson with flatwork, per usual. At the trot we focused on frequent half-halts in order to slow down Rudy’s front end while engaging and thinking about speeding up the hind end.  Rudy is not actually speeding up his hind end, but rather stepping farther under himself with more engagement and impulsion. My trainers likes to focus on the mental aspect of riding. Thinking speed up the hind end tricks me into using more leg and focusing on riding back-to-front. Lengthening and collecting transitions were incorporated into our focus on the half-halt at both the trot and the canter.

At the canter, I tend to go immediately to my hand to collect. That’s not the answer. This causes Rudy to lock his jaw and drop behind the bit and behind my leg. My trainer focused on the collection coming from my upper-body first, sinking into my seat, and closing my leg into a firm hand…sounds oddly like a strong half-halt.  Reflecting on it now, I need to work on this more and break it down into the steps I just listed. Rudy is very responsive, so even breaking it down into steps I would still be able to achieve a prompt transition from lengthening canter to collected canter within 4 or so strides. This process in my collection needs to become habit before I can expect Rudy to collect immediately. After I achieve the collection I often forget to go back to a soft following arm. I need to remember to lay off the clutch once I have already shifted gears! I received a lot of  “Now follow!” or “Now soften!”. Softness and self-carriage are always the goal. I can’t expect Rudy to be soft if I am not soft. I guess I should consider “now soften!” to be the final step of my collection “process”!

From there we moved on to a course of canter poles. Working on lots of tight roll-backs that require me to maintain my leg and contact throughout the turn. The canter poles turned into jumps but the concept remained the same. I have listed a few instructional quotes below that stuck out to me and are sort-of my “take-homes” for the jumping portion of the lesson…

“You will always be able to slow down or check your breaks. You have to start with a little more at the beginning of your course. Your horse does not naturally build throughout course or want to take you to the jumps. You need to create the impulsion and set that tone from the beginning.”

“That tighter turn requires a more put-together compact canter. You need to realize that, adjust your horse, but maintain the contact and motor through the turn”

“Make your adjust back here. Then trust that you have made that adjustment. Stop continuing to do stuff.”…sounds familiar (see above regarding canter collection)

“Your hands need to be quiet in front of the jump”…I tend to make last minute adjustments. Which are more often then not completely unnecessary…Light bulb moment! Perhaps if I think about my hands being quiet in front of the jump then I will naturally lower my hand and follow more with my release like I have been talking about? I shall experiment!

Here’s a funny picture to make you smile…

Mean Girls George Morris

Mean Girls George Morris

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