Dressage training with Ville Vaurio: Soft and through the back

Don't you just love it when your training session goes really well and is much a massive improvement to your last one? Although to be fair it couldn't have gone much worse than my last session with Ville a week after I'd fallen off when I was just totally useless and quite scared!

Although we only did one main exercise, I had so many brilliant light bulb moments and we worked on lots of different things to improve how Vallu goes. It's so nice to be working with a trainer who has helped me over the last 4 years with Vallu on a semi regular basis and who has also ridden and trained Vallu. Because of this, Ville knows exactly what will work on Vallu and how to explain things so that I understand them :)
The only reason why I would ride so late is when we have training the next day!
So the main exercise was just a big 20 meter circle (possibly 25m because the arena is wider than normal) where you go from a medium/extended canter to a collected or pirouette canter depending on what level you and your horse are working at. Vallu and I had to do medium to pirouette canter in order to get Vallu soft in neck and through his back and pushing with his hind legs. As Vallu is a little lazy and likes to stay in his comfort zone and to not give a 100% this was a fantastic exercise. The first few times when we did the transition from medium to collected pirouette style canter, Vallu would either drop to walk or totally stop! A few times of "kick, pat and collect again" then Vallu realised that he should carry on working until he was told :D Ville also said to not be afraid of half halting when collecting in case Vallu drops to trot or walk, if he does that then you know that he's behind your leg and being lazy and to just try again. So don't be afraid of making mistakes!

Another really important point that I hadn't even really properly thought about was that it's not about the speed of the canter e.g. "I think I'm going fast enough " but about the length of the stride and the feeling of the horse being in front of you. Now that I've understood what the proper medium canter feels like, it's now going to be much easier to know what to ride for and to know when the canter is good enough. Not only did I feel a what a good lengthened canter felt like, but also what it should feel like when he's soft in the neck and through his back. Instead of a slightly choppy and upwards bouncy canter, it was a lot more forwards and a lot more comfortable to sit to. So that's what we are going to be working towards over the winter - getting the canter and eventually the trot a lot softer and more forwards going :)

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