Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, May 10, 2010

In the Arena #11 - Loving every minute of it...

It would be hard to choose the best thing about our action packed long weekend at my trainer's farm (Val says GRASS!), it was all so rewarding and fun. Here are some highlights...

We had a good lesson first thing on Friday focusing on turning and halting. We have to get a halt and have a straight neck before we can do a turn on the forehand. I also need to make sure that there isn't too much contact for the energy. After our lesson Val had a visit from the horse dentist. His teeth and mouth are in great shape and we'll probably skip the sedation next time.

Later on Erin and I had Alexander technique sessions with a very talented practitioner. Part of the session takes place on a saddle, so we took our own. This was a profound experience. The  technique is so very subtle and interactive. It relies on bringing your attention to the areas that need opening and space. After the saddle part of the session I would swear my legs were longer. (Time to let down the stirrups a notch or two?!) My hips were really open and I couldn't wait to see the effects on my seat in the next ride. I highly recommend the Alexander technique for all riders but especially dressage riders.

Saturday morning - a quick trip to the feed store and then I watched lessons until it was my turn. We had a fantastic ride, building on the day before and I'm certain aided by my newly improved seat. I have never felt so at one with my horse and secure. Val was reaching into the bridle and seeking contact for the first time since I've been riding him. It's amazing how freely your horse can move when you are not blocking him. Things to remember from this ride are following with my hands and really allowing my horse the room to reach - in essence not blocking. Also, sending him forward resolves many issues.

Could it be Sunday already? After I lunged Val for a bit and got some strategies to handle when he tries to run out on me, Erin worked him. By the end of her ride, she had Val reaching for contact, using his back and increasing his stride length. Her feedback was that he has a noodle neck which must be stabilized... he doesn't really understand the leg aid very well and is super crooked - most likely a result of protecting his left hip (old injury). I was so relieved to find out that there is a physical component to our turning issues. Edited to add: Erin is not happy with her leg position in this photo - "waaaayyyy too far back" she said :)

Erin handed Val off to me and as I led him back to the mounting block he seemed to be shocked that the lesson was not over yet. We had a very productive ride and I now have a handle on where we need to go with our practicing. It was a weekend full of revelations and breakthroughs.

Val's take on our trip: Grass, excellent hay, friends - possibly one enemy, and a very comfy stall. We can't wait to go back!


  1. I wish you hadn't posted the photo, where my leg is waaaaayyyyyy too far back. Good example of "nobody's perfect" and of what not to do. :)

    Erin :)

  2. Hi Erin-

    I knew you weren't happy about your position there but I (selfishly) wanted to show the picture where Val looked the best lol... will add a disclaimer :)


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