"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, and dare to live the life you have imagined."
Since moving to the new yard I thought we ought to try out a new trainer as I have no transport to help me get to VV for Andrew's lesson, and I definitely need to have someone on the ground otherwise I fall back into my bad habits very quickly. After giving Vallu a few weeks to settle in, it was time to get both us back into work. It's always difficult to find a new trainer, but having followed Lili's progress on her Facebook page, and knowing her personally as a friend I knew she'd be great for Vallu and I. With Lili being in training with Charlotte Dujardin and Richard Davison, you know she's gonna have plenty of advice and tricks in her toolbox!
Lil was quick to notice all the little things that I was being 'lazy' about. With having been riding Vallu for nearly three years now, we've gotten too comfortable with each other and I know what buttons to push to get the 75-80% good work. But to improve, we need that extra 10%, and sometimes it has to get messy before it can be really good. Pushing us both just slightly outside of our comfort zone means that we continuously improve without asking for too much or anything too difficult. We just need to be pushed that extra bit, and I need to ride more accurately by dotting my i's and crossing my t's.
We warmed up very simply just by doing big circles at each end of the arena, and the main thing that I had to work on was making sure that Vallu was in front of my leg, so that he was also more active from behind even in the beginning of the lesson. Alongside this was to trying to ensure that although Vallu was allowed to be long in the neck and stretching (which is always encouraged and praised) he isn't allowed to hollow his neck/not be round, nor am I allowed to let my reins get so long that he's able to do this.
We worked on the medium trots and flying changes/tempi changes. Finding a new gear for the trot was an amazing experience. Just by preparing well in the corner beforehand with half halts to encourage Vallu to shorten, collect and balance himself, and with a new nudges with my leg to activate his hind legs, all you then really needed to go was to encourage him to lengthen his stride by alternating using my legs (left right left) so that Vallu is able to know the difference between speed up (using both legs simultaneously) and lengthen the stride. Vallu responded so well to this, and even though we had a few hairy moments e.g. galloping off down the long side, still Vallu tried so hard to do everything correctly ♥︎
The tempi changes were good considering I've really not been practising them at all recently (bad me) Again, to improve them we needed better reactions from Vallu to my leg. It's not that he doesn't respond at all to my leg, but since he thinks he knows better than me, when we're doing changes every fourth stride he'll do be doing every three strides... This goes away as soon as I ride the corner beforehand better and really concentrate on getting Vallu to sit properly on his hind legs and to have an active canter with reactive hind legs. Half halts and a quick use of my leg before the long side seems to do the trick, Vallu is willing to wait and listen to me and when I want to do the changes. It also helps to practise just doing two changes along the long side with one at the beginning and the other one near the end of the long side, so that they are further away from each other so that Vallu has to wait for me to give the aid for the change back. To improve the tricks, it's all about the basics.
It was so good to have a proper training session again, and Lili was amazing. She pushed enough to improve us, but also understood immediately that Vallu can't be told what to do, he has to be asked to work with you. Our next lesson is in two weeks time, I can't wait :)