Dressage lesson with Karita Kotikulma: adding a bit of oomph

Just wow. I mean seriously, wow riding Vallu is amazing. During my lesson with Karita last Wednesday, all I could think of was just how much this horse has improved. We were rusty, it was our first seriously hard training session, and I haven't ridden anything even remotely more advanced than elementary level for the last 6 months.

Luckily, a lesson with Karita was the kick up the behind that I needed. I guess I've been too scared of hurting his leg to push us towards the more advanced work. But after Karita's lesson, I can see it was about time!

We began the lesson by riding a 20x30m square in trot and canter, and making sure that Vallu reacted well to my inside leg and outside rein in the corners so that after the corner, I was able to make sure that he became properly straight through his body.

1. outside rein for support + half halts
2. inside leg pushes inside leg in + underneath

After he was warmed up a little bit, we varied the corners in the canter so that every other corner was ridden in  a more collected way → pirouette canter and turn. There were several really good collected canter turns that bordered on the beginnings of a canter pirouette. Maybe one day we can try practising canter pirouettes again.

The rest of the lesson was spent on working on canter half pass. Vallu has a great half pass, and finds it really easy to do, just as long as I remember to ride properly! If I mess up or don't focus we'll enough, it goes pear shaped very quickly.

We began with riding the canter half pass from the centre line towards the track, where we then had to do a simple change, and start the half pass back towards the centre line. Not too difficult, once I started to ride properly, was quick enough with my aids, and planned ahead well in advance. 
After that started going well, Karita decided to make it even harder for me and we made the half pass sections very short, with simple changes between the changes in direction (so that we didn't start to do flying changes) This is working towards us someday being able to do a proper canter half pass zig zag along the centre line. 

This is a simply fantastic exercise for Vallu. The simple changes mean that we can't complicate the exercise with flying changes and I don't have to try to deal with a very hot Vallu. The constant change in direction means that Vallu' brain is kept busy trying to organise his legs, and my brain is kept busy trying to figure how to ride everything well enough! 
At the end I had Vallu on a short, collected neck that was high but he was still super light on the hand. We got some oomph into our work! This is an amazing improvement, considering how during the last lesson that I had with Karita on Vallu ended with me wondering how I could ever ride him in a test because he leaned so much against my hand. But not anymore!

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