So - I've had just two lessons since last November - only one on my own horse. It's been exhilarating, frustrating, but mostly so challenging to be responsible for Val's and my dressage training... it was such a relief for us to finally work with my trainer again.
Friday was our travel day. After packing the truck and trailer - Val couldn't load fast enough once he sniffed out the extra special alfalfa kicker in his hay bag - we hit the road. I'm thankful for my fiberglass trailer. With temperatures in the mid nineties, Val was still (fairly) cool and comfortable. Our 3 1/2 hour ride was smooth, but best of all, safe. After arriving and getting Val settled in, I trailered a horse from another farm across town back to my trainers place. Dinner + a movie and day one was done.
We had three lessons, two Saturday and one Sunday. Started off with some groundwork refreshers. I have not been consistent in my space boundaries lately when Val and I are leading and hand grazing, so he has been disregarding my authority ;) Erin reminded me that when I correct him, I have to mean it. To put the absolute fear of god in Val if he steps one inch into my space, doesn't stop on a dime, etc. every single time! My inconsistent leadership stresses him out - he's much happier when I make the decisions. This work had immediate benefits under saddle - what a good boy!
|Is it time to work? No? Ummm, cookies then?!|
On to our main objective - relaxation. We did numerous exercises that loosened me up.... ankles, hips, arms and torso. At one point I was dancing to the trot (doing the twist)... totally fun, and Val was loving it. I became very aware of where I hold my tension. It was amazing how Val's movement became freer, smoother and bigger once I let go and stopped blocking him. There was lots of blowing and snorting + grateful looks. :) Here's what I want to keep in mind:
What I thought I was addressing with more leg - sluggishness, lack of forwardness - was really Val trying to cope with me being tense and unbalanced.
No holding. No holding tension in your body, or more importantly in your mind. It blocks your horse - and if you keep it up - pretty sure it pisses them off.
No holding your aids either. Adjust him and trust him. Trust is not 95%, 98%, 99.9% - it is 100% or nothing.
You cannot prevent mistakes. You need to allow your horse to make an error, and then you have an opportunity to correct it. I had a major realization of how often I am guilty of this. It's an insidious form of not being in the moment.
Overall, the weekend with my fabulous guy was so wonderful. He enjoyed grazing, friends, attention, the grass... don't forget the grass! I can't wait to do it all again, but in the meantime, I'll be focusing on loosening up so we can boogie!
|Nancy and Lad|
|Ashley and Howard|
|Bud and Val grooming - Lad watches longingly|