Over the weekend I was lucky enough to get two consecutive lessons on Basse with our old trainer Jane who used to teach us for several years before we moved to Finland. We calculated that it must have been nearly 7 years since our last lesson together!! 🇬🇧 I've been very reluctant to take Basse anywhere to find a new trainer for him because I'm so overprotective of him and I don't want to take him to a lesson with anyone who won't understand him, so when Jane came over for a short holiday to visit my parents I jumped at the chance to have a few lessons with Basse with her!
On the first day it was all a bit difficult. Basse's inherently lazy gene came out full force for having to work harder than he's had to for well over a year and this resulted in the funniest temper tantrum where he resembled a giraffe doing tölt/canter because he didn't want to canter like we wanted him to. Once he gave up he was obviously tired because he's not at full fitness level, and then we had to end the lesson soon after that because we didn't want him to get too sour. But before the temper tantrum and before getting too tired he produced some fantastic work that I was really pleased with.
The next day we were both ready to work our best so that the lesson wouldn't be as tough (I was also having lessons on Vallu and felt like death!). It was so nice to get on and realise that Basse was feeling happy and good in himself, I had been worried that he would be too tired. Instead I had a horse who went on the bit as soon as I picked up the reins and also relaxed through his neck straight away! #success
The main things that we focused on were my position and my authenticity as a rider. I've been a bit too much of a "don't rock the boat" rider in order to keep Basse happy and whilst this has gotten us so far, I now need to be more positive and helpful as a rider to guide him and make it really clear as to what I want from him now. So shorter reins and elbows bent is something that will be ringing in my ears every time I ride from now on! 😂 By having shorter reins it leads to a better more stable contact, creating 'positive tension' rather than an empty contact and reins that look like washing lines!
To improve Basse's canter there are several things I need to do: travers on a circle, flex in more then release again, keep outside contact 'strong' and lots of trot to canter transitions. The travers on circle helps him to become more flexible behind the saddle, which is something he really struggles with because he is so short in his back. By creeping it in and then straightening him back on the circle I can get his back more flexible and his shoulders under control. The trot to canter transitions force him to push from behind better than a walk to canter transition does, and they force me to focus more on keeping him flexible through his neck than walk-canter-walk transitions do! Thinking about the novice level tests I want to do with him this summer they all have trot to canter transitions so by practising these whenever I ride him gives us a better chance of getting better scores in the tests too.
I think he looks really really good in these photos, I'm so pleased with how responsive he was to my style of riding being changed in the lessons and how happy he looked after both lessons 🦄 We're definitely going to be increasing his fitness by working harder whenever I ride him, even though he will still only get ridden 4 times a week so he doesn't get sour and bored about training until the snow and ice has melted away I can start hacking him.