6.12.15

Dressage lesson with Brooksby Dressage: You need to learn to let go

 Today we celebrated Finnish Independence Day by having an amazing lesson with Brooksby Dressage (Equestrian Training) Vallu was an absolute star today, he really listened to me, tried his best and showed that I can ask for more in both the medium/extended trot and canter without always having to fear him tanking off with me!

After warming up, we began with an exercise that I have never done before - something that Lili called a 'S line serpentine' - which is essentially a serpentine figure but instead of going straight across the arena you ride two shallow 10m voltes (e.g. instead of your classic straight line from E to B, you ride a shallow/slight ten meter volte from E to X, and then another shallow ten meter volte from X to B) The first couple of attempts made me squeal "the arena is not long enough" and "I don't know what I'm doing", which very quickly (once I got the hang of how to ride it) changed to "this is SO good" and "it really helps!" This exercise requires the horse to be straight, but still very supple to be able to do two voltes, and it makes you very quickly realise if you don't have control of the shoulders.  It was super helpful in getting Vallu to properly engage behind in trot, which is something that I often struggle with. And because you are constantly changing direction and flexion, it is much easier to get the horse to relax over the top line - or at least it did with Vallu!
Eskadron NG blue cotton set from Fur Feather Meds 
Lili and I also acknowledged the fact that Vallu is one of those horses that will also trot much better after he has a good canter session. I think this is because the canter work is just so much easier for both of us - and so working on transitions within canter, forwards and back, is an essential tool to help improve his trot work. Everyone knows how important and useful transitions are, but to be able to ride good transitions within a pace is something that I have only recently started to focus on. It's fun to realise how we have progressed - we have gone from doing basic walk/trot/canter transitions to working on well ridden and good collected/medium/extended transitions within canter (even on circles!) 

From this we then moved onto my personal fear of having to trust Vallu in medium/extended canter down the long side. This is something that used to give me shivers even thinking about, and is something that would make me withdraw inside myself and start to ride very defensively - even if Vallu had done absolutely nothing wrong and wasn't even in a 'spooky mood'. Having had to learn to ride such a massive and powerful horse had meant that over the years I have become a bit of control freak and giving up 'control' to Vallu in the mediums in both trot and canter has been difficult. My major lightbulb moment of this lesson had to be when Lili said that I had to learn to let go in those movements. Holding back Vallu to try to remain in control means that Vallu is only moving at 40% of his ability instead of 100%. Even though I am not nagging him with my hands or constantly (consciously) braking and trying to slow down, I am not letting him go. And so now I need to learn to let go, and to trust Vallu that one last bit in order to be able to get those movements as good as they can. 
LOOK AT HOW COLLECTED HE IS!!! And that hind leg actually properly pushing through
Hind leg working in canter too!
We have another lesson in the upcoming week, and Monday 14th we are taking part in the Charlie Hutton clinic. Exciting times ahead for us - hopefully I can carry on with this 'letting go' process to get Vallu finally as good as he could be with a pro!

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