Dressage lesson with Andrew Fletcher: When it doesn't go so well...

The title sounds a bit ominous I know, and to be honest it wasn't a bad lesson (not in the slightest!) but it just I wasn't expecting it to be a lesson like this.

"It's always good to have back up plans, so that when things don't go according to plan, you have something to do."
Vallu started off being very scared (I'd use the word spooky, but that's not the correct way to describe the feeling.) We couldn't go near the blue banners around the edges of the indoor, which the other day weren't scary at all, the doors were open and we could see outside and all the monsters that reside there, and Vallu was constantly trying to poop. Rather weird... As soon as we started warming up, AF stopped us and took off my spurs and he started us off with a very easy warm up, where we were just aiming for transitions between walk and trot, and trot and canter with the aim of eliminating Vallu's constant attempts to stop to poo (where 99% of the time he doesn't actually poo) and to get him to come 'back to us'.

After about 15 minutes of this, Vallu eventually started to relax and come back slightly towards being normal again. AF said I didn't do anything wrong, and it was good riding from me. Vallu just seemed to be "a bit off" which is probably the best way to describe how he felt. Slightly stiff, slightly off, slightly lethargic. Blerggh.

Because AF cares more about the horse's well being that doing lots of advanced movements and technical dressage tests, we ended up doing a very simple yet effective exercise... Starting with a canter 20m circle, slowly make it into a 10m circle, and do the 10m circle couple of times until the canter feels good and balanced, and the horse is soft, round in the neck and light on your hand. (Remember to turn by twisting your upper body, not by pulling on the inside rein)
Then a good transition to trot, just by using your core and shoulders back, not by using your hands, and then pat! Then leg yield out back into a 20m circle, and when the trot is balanced and everything feels good, a transition back up to canter, and repeat in both directions.

And because this exercise wasn't the most difficult thing for us, my position got focussed on more this time (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong!) Things to take away: hands in front, leave Vallu quite long and round and 'empty' in front (but only for the transititons) so that he has to sort himself out and do the transition himself, and otherwise just sit long in the saddle and make sure that Vallu is constantly thinking forwards.

"Sometimes when things don't feel a 100% right, you've just got to go back to the simple things, so that you can make sure everything remains positive and you can constantly tell your horse that they're being good."

So thank you AF for remaining ever so positive even when I felt like the lesson was going down the drain, and for once again teaching me about horsemanship. Truly blessed to have found someone like this to be my trainer. Not only did the lesson actually go well (even though in my brain I was freaking out) but I now have another exercise in my toolkit to use when we are stuck. 

Next one is Dec 15th, and until then just keep going on with the hacking out (AF is the biggest advocate of hacking out and t/o for the horses) and working on making sure Vallu is happy in his work. Hopefully the new saddle will arrive soon, because I think that's also affecting him and making him be in pain.

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