Dressage lesson with Ville Vaurio: Refining

Wooo, back at training again! It's been well over a month since I've last had a lesson, and although the break has been good for both me and Vallu, I am very happy to be back at training and learning more things. And I couldn't have asked for a better lesson. It was all about the little things, refining my aids in order to make our life simpler.

For a few weeks now, I've been struggling with the flying changes. They haven't been 100% good, V has been late behind or just not reacting to my aids or then just running away. To solve all of this, the canter literally just needed to be bigger and slightly more forwards thinking. Like that was it, and then we got perfect flying changes!  To get the canter better, transitions between working canter and medium canter were incredibly useful, to get Vallu going forwards and get him to be quick too. Once again Ville pointed out that I need to make sure Vallu is straight - something so simple, so easily forgotten and such an important thing!

The trot has become much better since the last time that we had a training session. There is bigger movement in the front, and Vallu is definitely pushing more from behind. I even got a "wow, that's really good" from my normally tight lipped trainer (for whom you have to translate ok into good!) Must be the hacking out and pole work!
In the trot half pass left, I must remember keep my right hand more to the outside, in order to encourage him not to fall out of his right shoulder (even though he's going left!) Having a bit more of an active right leg will help to make sure that Vallu goes sideways properly, and not just half heartedly!

In the half passes right, the right hand has to stay still, so that I don't bother Vallu's mouth at all. Hand still, but active fingers to make sure Vallu stays soft and round. (Why is my right hand always the problem?!?) This was a HUGE lightbulb moment for me, I've really been struggling with the trot half-passes for a while now and I am so glad that Ville was able to point out what was wrong. I really appreciate that Ville made me figure out what I needed to change, but he only pointed out that my right hand was the problem. It made the fact that it worked out right even more sweet as I myself figured out how to fix it! Yay!

Although shoulder-in is one of our easiest movements, I've got to make sure Vallu doesn't do it too steeply. When he does that then we struggle with going forwards, with movements afterwards and with Vallu staying soft in the mouth. I need to ride it "less" so that when Vallu is trying too hard and I'm riding it less, then the end result tends to be good, somewhere in the middle of these two :)
And finally onto piaffe! Considering we had only had a 40 minute lesson, we got so much done! We practised our normal walk to piaffe transitions, and although I'm getting much better with not dropping my reins/contact, I now need to focus on not letting Vallu fall behind my leg. As soon as it feels like Vallu has fallen behind my leg, then flex to the inside and ask for forwards to get out of the piaffe. One of the really exciting things was when we tried a new transition, from trot to piaffe, and we got baby passage!! So cool! Only for a few steps, but it's all very very interesting and promising! By doing the trot to piaffe transitions, piaffe became more bouncy and more through his back :) 
Photographic evidence of post lesson foamy mouth!
The new bit seems to be working, Vallu still had a foamy mouth once we were back in his stable. He also seemed to keep his mouth closed more than with the old bit, so I'm hoping he feels happy with this new one. I'm very pleased with this pony right now! ♥︎

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