11.2.15

Dressage lesson with Andrew Fletcher: Coping with a fresh happy horse

I don't know what was in the air on Monday but suddenly I was riding a very "spring happy" Vallu... He was SO FRESH and full of energy, and ended up giving us some of the worst and then later on the best ever work that he has ever produced.  A big thank you to AF for not staying calm at the beginning when Vallu zooming around in different directions and I was not at all in control. By the end of the lesson we got "well Vallu is feeling rather happy" and "he's such a show off" ♥︎
Sorry for the quality of the photos, they are screen grabs from the videos
To begin with we began working on a figure of eight trot - big trot, low frame and soft and flexible in the neck. Both doors to the indoor were open, and Vallu had a lot to deal with as there were horses jumping in the outdoor arena. Having an easy exercise to begin with made sure that we could try to get Vallu to relax and focus on working as quickly as possible, without stressing him out. I still find it difficult to walk on that fine line between getting Vallu to focus on me, but not making him work too hard on anything too difficult so that he'll get annoyed.
Those front legs ♥︎
Since Vallu was feeling very fresh, we kept the exercises simple in order to try prevent him from overheating :D It was like riding a ticking time bomb... Next we worked on a 4 looped serpentine, making sure that I rode accurately, that Vallu was soft and supple through his body and his neck, and that he was in front of my leg. It quickly became apparent that I really struggle with being brave and riding Vallu 100% forwards when he is hot and not totally listening to me - so still need to work on getting a bit braver in these conditions.

After a long walk break during which Vallu had started to chill a bit and come back to earth, we then proceeded onto improving the flying changes. Although Vallu is good at his flying changes (they're straight, forwards, and nearly always clean) and he can do tempi changes no problem, we need to get a bit more picky with the quality of the actual change and make them slightly bigger.  So a half ten meter circle to the centre line, then leg yielding in canter back to the outside and then once on the track a flying change. The leg yielding improves the quality of the canter by having a bigger crossing over of his hindlegs, and then we get better flying changes that are bigger.
Thanks WOW for making sit upright
One of the less successful moments of the lesson 

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