Lesson Report

Update on Faxx – My husband took him to our vet this a.m. and left him so they could ‘work him in.  He was just as lame this morning as he was last night. Much to my relief, by the time my vet was able to examine him this afternoon, a huge abscess had blown out the back of his heel! I was so relieved I almost cried!!


Due to “life” intervening, plus an incredibly rainy December, I have not gotten any lessons since the beginning of October.  I broke the ‘dry spell’ this evening with lessons on two of my horses.  My trainer, Marta Renilla, is from Spain, where she competed as a Young Rider throughout Europe. She has had top dressage instruction and has trained and competed veyr successfully at Grand Prix. Even more important, she is a gifted teacher and very compassionate toward the horses. I have been training with her for two years now, and my riding and my horses have improved greatly during that time.


During my last lessons with Marta, she told me I needed to get Fling fitter at the canter, which would help me get her in better self-carriage. So, the limited times I’ve been able to ride the past few months, that’s what I’ve worked on. I discovered that if I let her do a few laps at canter in the round pen before riding her, her back was looser and she was more ready to go to work. Instead of spending 10 minutes at walk, then going to trot and working on canter last, I started working on canter after about 5 minutes of walk. This gave her more energy for the canter work, and, for an unexpected bonus, her trot work was much better after the canter. Since I mainly was trying to improve the canter, I only worked on flying changes only a few times on my own — with varying degrees of success. I have never ridden a horse that was trained to do flying changes, so this has been a big (and ongoing) challenge to have the degree of roundness, collection and self carriage in the canter AND to figure out the aids, and the timing of the aids. Mainly I worked on keeping her on my seat, and got outside of the ‘comfort zone’ of the circle and insisted she stay on my aids on straight lines, across diagonals — all over the arena. At this point I felt like her self-carriage at the canter was finally approaching the same quality as the self-carriage she exhibits at trot.


I was really anxious to see what Marta thought about Fling’s canter. I was really hoping what I felt as better collection and self-carriage was the real thing!


I was thrilled to hear she immediately saw the improvement in both Fling’s fitness and the quality of her canter. And even more thrilled that my ability to ‘feel’ was on target.


We did some trot work and then moved right to canter. I made these notes so I can repeat these exercises on my own since it will be probably another month before my next lesson.


When warming up at trot, don’t let her get too fast. Think more inside leg, doing slight shoulder fore. Start out doing transitions from trot to halt and really use inside leg to keep her on outside rein. Keep leg on during transition to halt and remain on her even through asking to trot forward again.


For flying changes. On left rein, counterflex neck/shoulders slightly to outside, and use left leg to push haunches over a bit. Use INSIDE rein to half halt and get canter round. Do this on long side to confirm, get her listening. Don’t let her ‘run away’ and maintain this position around corners. When this is going well, turn down quarter line, and when it feels good, almost make a ‘turn’ onto diagonal, at the same time asking for flying change. Before change, keep inside leg on her, so she is not ‘surprised’ when I ask for change – to ask for change, shift leg back slightly and use stronger aid.  Hint: Imagine a wall in front of you just before you turn onto diagonal line. Remember to lean back slightly before asking for change. The change is JUST ANOTHER CANTER STRIDE.  Do the same thing on the right rein.  



Half pass

I was having trouble getting her to do canter half pass. Once we were cantering down centerline, I just could not get her to turn her shoulders.  The trouble here was similar to my troubles in the flying change canter – leaning on my leg a bit. Start out at trot…if she is leaning, and not bending, use inside leg/rein to create more bend. THEN, if she is not listening, immediately put her into a leg yield for a few strides, then go back to shoulder-in and then half pass.  At canter, turn down center line, in shoulder fore. Go to half pass – if not listening, go to leg yield for a few strides, then back to half pass. Also, when doing half pass, keep inside leg ON when I go straight, and then keep it on through the turn.


After Fling, I rode Faeryn, who is Fling’s full sister. Faeryn is coming 5 and going other first recognized show next weekend.


Warm up in circle. When she pulls above the bit, keep inside leg on and turn her toward center, maintaining contact with outside rein…then go back to circle.


Keep inside leg on and do transitions from trot to walk. Put both hands to right when going right, ditto for going left.  At same time, keep inside leg on.


Exercise: Do serpentines, slow down at centerline, almost to walk, change leg/hands to new direction, then go forward once she’s changed bend.


In canter, much the same thing. Do ‘squares’ where I think turning around inside leg, and really using outside rein to turn her. Support her with inside leg same as trot, and again, both hands to inside both directions.




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