Dressage training with Jane Cannon: travers everywhere!

Whilst lessons with Basse were focused a lot more on my style of riding and what I needed to do with my seat, position, hands/arms and legs, my lessons with Vallu were a lot more what exercises I needed to do to keep him working better but also calmly. 
The best way to get Vallu more supple and flexible all over his body was to just do travers everywhere! Travers is something that I did a lot of during my lessons with Andrew Fletcher but I just somehow totally forgot about riding them since then and I'm so glad Jane reminded me about it because it made such a big difference to Vallu. We did about 5-10 minutes of travers in total, with the aim of building it up to 20 mins of travers everyday (in all paces). The best thing that worked for us was to do travers on in the ¾ line so that there is more space between horse and the wall but also because it makes sure you have control over both shoulders! 🙌🏻

Walk has always been the most difficult pace for Vallu and for me to ride. It's so easy to get a shuffle, piaffe, pacing walk rather than a relaxed walk where he is pushing through the back and because of that I've just been avoiding working on the walk too much since I've felt like there's nothing I can do to improve it. But this has been my biggest mistake... 🙄 Instead of ignoring it, I need to work on it a lot more during every ride, in the warm up and during his 'breaks' from the harder work. Instead of giving him a long rein, I need to walk on a contact alternating between collected walk and working walk and different length of rein focusing on a good rhythm by counting 1 2, 1 2, 1 2 etc until he’s settled into it and then 1 2 3 4 to really help me achieve a good rhythm in my own seat and riding to ease him into a much a more relaxed walk! Doing lots of walk pirouettes will also help bring hind leg in and around my leg which encourages him to let me set the rhythm and pace of the walk ☑️
The snow and ice are FINALLY starting to melt away! Yay!

The main lightbulb moment for me during these lessons was that I need to ride a slow 'baby' trot at first in order to create bounce/cadance rather than letting him run at full speed💡By riding a much slower trot Vallu actually has to push properly from behind and engage over the back, which means when I take him to the normal working trot it's actually possible for me to sit to the trot as there's actually something for me to sit to and not just bounce on top of! It also helps to have the contact not too long otherwise he gets too long (obviously 🙈) Like CDJ says "short reins win gold medals!"

Another simple exercise that really helped us was to leg yield across the diagonal as it gives you more time to do more steps across. Go slow, with flexion and softness through the neck first (NO blocking) and then focus on getting good steps of the horse crossing over. Leg yielding is so good for making any horse supple and loose, which then helps them have more elasticity and regularity of their paces. And for Vallu at least there was a massive difference in lightness and the ease of his movements after having done 4 or 5 leg yields across the diagonal in both directions!
How riding feels like now!!

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