Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lateral Lessons

We've now left the 'show' portion of our year, and are heading back in to the 'training' portion. Dressage clinics are being scheduled, gymnastic grids assembled, and tack is being fiddled with. While I love showing, I find re-entering the training phase of our year (for lack of a better term...) always re-enthuses me. Trying out new exercises, focusing on new issues or new ways of dealing with old ones, and pushing our training ahead just seems to fill fall with so many new opportunities!
Anyway, I'm currently knee-deep in midterms, so I've got to keep this short. I just wanted to write a quick recap of our dressage lesson today, and try to get back into the habit of chronicling our training- I've been slacking on that front of late.

For today's lesson, I borrowed a friend's eggbutt snaffle. Its a relatively thick one, which Cadence seemed to approve of, but the strength provided by the nutcracker action of the single-jointed snaffle & the pressure of the eggbutt gave me a little bit of extra strength to stop her when she decides to plow through me. After a w/t stretch warm up, we moved into the lateral work starting with riding turn on the haunches to nose-to-wall leg yield. The first turn on the haunches (left) was lovely, the leg-yield was decent if a bit rushed, but to the right Cadence objected to my aid to move her haunches over, and kicked the arena wall instead... charming, mare. We worked through this exercise several more times until we had more consistent & relaxed movements. The pirouettes right were still a fair bit more difficult than to the left, but they improved bit by bit. We proceeded to shoulder & haunches in in the trot, which rode quite nicely save for one or two rude mare moments, and then we moved on to the half pass. I was actually quite impressed with Cadence here. We've worked on half pass maybe a half-dozen times at most, and for the most part its been a little like attempting to make a slinky half pass. You'd get some shoulder, and then the haunches would go zooming off, so you'd correct that, but then she'd grab the bit & barge her shoulders out.. or something along those lines. Though the half pass work today wasn't exactly show ring ready, I could aim her shoulders, ask for her haunches, and then stay fairly quiet as we bounced our way over towards the wall.  No bolting, no fighting, no rushing madly off in all directions. What a novel concept! (Actually, in fairness to the mare she's not that bad. I probably make her sound like some atrociously mannered evil mastermind. In reality, she's just a wee bit too dominant for her (or my) own good!) Due to the small size of our indoor, one of the best tips my coach gave me re the half pass, was to ride shoulder fore through the turn. That way we're already partially set up by the time we're on the centre line.
Our canter work wasn't at its best today, but again it wasn't bad. My legs are pretty sore ATM, so I probably wasn't giving her all the support I could have, but our first few canter-trots left were a little sketchy. My coach suggested we do some canter walks to get Cadence to actually come under herself, and stop barging through up front. And so we canter-walked, corrected her haunches, and walk-cantered until we had a more respectful mare. At this point, we cantered right (and executed some absolutely lovely transitions up and down) before re-trying the canter-trots to the left. Much to my pleasure, we had a respectful transition! YAY! So we quit on that note. Overall, I ended the lesson pleased with the mare-face, and quite excited for what the winter has in store for us!