Dressage lesson with Andrew Fletcher: making it simple

(For some reason I didn't want to share this blog post at first, it jut felt so special that I wanted to keep the feelings and thoughts that I had to myself for a while... It feels like a lot of the pieces in our massive jigsaw puzzle fell into place; Vallu was trying so hard for me and it felt like for the first time we became one in a true partnership. And that makes this lesson hold a very dear and special place in my heart.)

Out of all my bad habits and problems, trying too hard seems to be my biggest fault as a rider. Although this isn't too bad (out of all the things that I could do wrong) but good god is it difficult to get my brain and body to simply stop trying too hard. Arghhhhhh. Vallu was a super good boy, did everything that I asked him to, and once again I got a taste of how amazing he is when I ride right and ask him correctly. 

During the lesson we worked on flying changes as well as pirouettes (walk and canter.) Possibly the two most difficult exercises that I know, and being a bit ill also made the lesson a bit more challenging. But you know you've had an amazing lesson when you feel so much better after your lesson than you did beforehand, dressage training is better medicine for flu than paracetamol and lemsip ;)

After warming up, we started working on flying changes which are too easy for Vallu, whereas I am not a 100% sure about them, and this tends to result in Vallu showing off and doing whatever he wants with me sitting there going "err... what am I supposed to do now?!?" So to make it simple, Andrew took off my spurs and made me leave the curb rein alone so I was riding on the snaffle rein only, making everything so much simpler, and I've never been happier. I just have to ride the canter forwards after we're done with the flying changes so Vallu knows that we don't want anymore flying changes and that's that, simple. It's always good to hear what a judge would give you for a certain movement, and Andrew said that we would get a 7 or 8 for flying changes because they're uphill, straight and fluent. Just as long as I don't mess it up! :D
I had a huge lightbulb moment when Andrew said to ride Vallu's canter uphill. Vallu knows how to canter properly, and I do know how to ask for a big uphill canter but I'm often content with just his normal canter, so I don't ask for more. But woahhh can this canter when you ask for it properly. Vallu became so uphill that during the walk to canter transition I nearly ended up sitting behind the saddle because it was so massively uphill. All I can remember is Andrew shouting "YES now that's an uphill transition" Right, I want more of that feeling!!!

After a long (and very much deserved) break which mainly consisted of me patting Vallu and saying good boy, we moved onto pirouettes. Probably the most difficult movement for me personally, I override it, and often mess it up. So onto making it simple so that both my body and my brain understand what to do :D It is imperative that my outside leg is moved forwards, not back. Otherwise we end up in a travers, which makes Vallu even more slow and the movement even more difficult for both of us. It also helps if I turn both hands towards direction we're going, making sure that his shoulders keep turning, instead of his hind legs.  

And the exact same applies for canter, since it is the exact same thing just in another pace. Making sure that Vallu is going forwards makes the pirouette very easy. Ride forwards by using leg, then pat, collect, and pat. If pirouettes are too difficult for me at first to get the proper feeling, then riding a square  (with short pirouette style turns at each corner) is a good idea. From here, you can make the square smaller by turning more often, which quickly leads into a circle and a constant turn and thus into pirouette.
I am very proud of my horse, who has the amazing ability to teach me so much and to take us onwards and upwards to new challenges. I think he is the horse of my lifetime.

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