Dressage lesson with Ville Vaurio: Keep riding and then you'll relax

As much as I hate to admit it, 24 hours later I'm now incredibly glad mum decided to book me in for a lesson with my old trainer Ville Vaurio. At the start of the lesson I thought I would either pass out or throw up from being absolutely terrified - I've only ridden Vallu once since falling off for about ten minutes because my back hurt too much to do much more and I really didn't want my first proper ride to be at a brand new yard that neither of us had been to before! Oh well, nothing like being thrown in the deep end!!
Off we go!
As I was totally frozen with fear, most of the lesson was spent on doing lots of movements that were challenging in order to keep Vallu's brain busy and me thinking about how to ride the movements instead of thinking about what might scare Vallu. If we kept Vallu busy with difficult movements and working properly then he would have less time to react to his environment and would be less likely to spook. Knowing this would then help me relax and everything went much better. This is everything that I already knew, but needed to hear whilst having someone on the ground to tell me that everything is okay, I can do this and to push me to ride properly - not just sit there looking pretty and praying that nothing will happen.

After warming up on my own, we established a 'safe zone' e.g a 20m circle at A where I could mentally relax, knowing it was a place where I wouldn't fall off. The circle then got extended further down the arena and in under 5 minutes we had two thirds of the arena as a safe zone. And then throughout the lesson Ville would make me ride outside of this just to push me and to prove that I could ride wherever I wanted. Who says riding isn't a psychological sport?! Whenever I had to ride out of my comfort zone, I was to ride shoulder in as this would both of us busy, Vallu flexed slightly to the inside and around my legs so that the likelihood of him taking off with me is reduced. We also did a couple of flying changes which were all okay (tight, small canter and small changes because I was too worried about getting big bucky changes) apart from one from which Vallu decided to tank off and it took me a good 15m to get him to slow - but... I didn't fall off and we carried on in canter so I feel a lot more confident that I do still have the ability to stay on! A lot of pirouette work - again, slightly difficult as I hadn't ridden these in over 8 months but Vallu remembered how to do them and then some piaffe work where Ville had a short riding whip with which he very lightly tapped on Vallu's hind legs to give him a rhythm and bloody heck the last one was amazinggggggg! "What you felt there was pure power and it was great" #actualquote
Although the whole lesson was mentally incredibly draining, I am so glad I was able to have my first proper training session after 8 months off and after my accident with my old trainer who I feel so comfortable with. I think if it had been a new trainer the lesson wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful because I wouldn't have felt confident enough to go to a new place for anyone else apart from Ville. Unfortunately for me and a lot of riders over here, Ville is going to go work for my brother in Germany so my next training session will be with someone new but it won't bother me as much because of how well this one went! :) 

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