It doesn't help that the other day I really hurt my back and now I'm taking this whole week off from riding and all other fun things. Blah.
But before I injured myself, I told M that I want to do some dressage lessons on Red, and she's like "all righty!" because she loves dressage and lessons. I didn't tell her about the bronze medal thing. I'm still not telling her. She needs to see that I can be successful in dressage and get done what she needs me to get done, so that when I do tell her she's like "EXCELLENT" instead of like "bwahahahaha." You know? Timing matters! (That's what the dressage riders say!)
|Poor guy has no idea he's going to dressage|
Here's the thing about Red: he does not have a dressagey understanding of the contact. He was ridden in quite the bit/martingale combination as a show jumper, and I just don't think he's got the sense that the outside rein is there to be his support buddy. And until he has that piece, the rest of it can't show up. I mean, he's got rhythm and relaxation down (though who knows what will happen to those at the horse shows). So connection is next, and I'm thinking we'll struggle for a few days and then have a breakthrough and then he'll have that piece for life. Impulsion will be easy. Straightness will be hard, but with M's help, we'll get it. Collection? I don't know how easy that will be for him, but by the time we get there, I think he'll have a lot of different muscles.
So on Saturday what M wanted to accomplish was getting him to release the base of his neck into the contact. At home, he'll trot around with his nose on the ground and no rein contact at all, but that's not quite what we're after. I do think he needed no-reins stretching stuff for his mind and his body, so now we're ready to move on.
|Horse or hippo?|
The lesson was almost entirely on a 20m circle. Sometimes we'd get it to 10m and leg yield out to try to encourage that outside rein connection. There was a lot of counterbend to get his shoulders where they needed to be, and then transitioning to true bend with the goal of not having an inverted horse. At one point each direction, M walked next to me and held the reins and told me what to do with my legs. She said that she'd have climbed up there had she not been wearing shorts. This was more fun, though, because I got to feel what the rest of his body was doing. He seemed worried about her doing that, so I said, "It's okay, buddy," and she said, "I'm not okay! Tell this bitch to let go of my reins!" I love her.
So now my homework for the week is to get him into the outside rein like a proper horse. It's amazing, he's 17 and can't do this, but his genuine desire to be a good boy will make it quick, I think. Anyone else retraining an older horse to a new discipline?