We ended the week on a really good note. As usual, Fling was up first. We worked on improving the canter by making sure she had enough bend. The increased bend makes a big difference in how the canter feels. It improves the self carriage and uphill feel, as well as the degree of collection. I think it’s because the bend makes her step underneath herself better with the inside hind. Marta said to think about bending her around my inside leg – turn the shoulders to the inside – think shoulder fore. Also, as Marta says, “keep her face on the line of the circle.’ Thinking of it that way helps me keep her shoulders and neck lined up to follow the line of the circle. Also, when you think about it this way, you always keep the appropriate amount of bend to match the size of the circle. IE, on a 10m circle you would have a greater degree of bend than on a 20m circle. Then we worked on canter half pass and she did great. Then Marta had me make a small circle, then start half pass on the outside quarter line and just do a few strides of half pass to about X and then go straight, keeping the same bend as half pass, then think of keeping her from ‘falling onto my inside leg’ by keeping it at the girth and pressing….then, for the flying change, think of taking ONE step of canter pirouette by moving both my hands toward the new direction, move my leg behind the girth and ask for the change. Eureka! Super changes both directions! To finish, we worked on trot extensions. I had watched some video that Marta had taken of us the day before, and although she FEELS like she is doing a huge extension, on the video it doesn’t look nearly as big! Marta says what she is doing is plenty for third level, but I wanted to see if I could get more. I’ve watched too many Grand Prix trot extensions! LOL! So Marta had me do big, free rising trot around the arena to get her a little charged up, then I sat, went around the corner and really half halted and ‘revved’ her engine. When I headed onto the diagonal Marta had me put my hands forward and let her go. I could definitely feel her get more airborne! We ended on that and I was a very happy camper.
By the time we got to Faxx, it was raining a little, so we worked in the covered arena. We had to work around the jumps set up and axx gave them a little bit of the evil eye, so he did not settle into his work as quickly as usual. Marta says Faxx now needs to learn he has more than one ‘gear’ at both trot and canter. So we worked on a lot of pushing foward to bigger trot or canter for just 3-4 strides, then coming back. He is very good at ‘coming back’ without breaking out of the gait as is so common when you start trying to do this. We also worked on leg yield on the circle,. He was not listening to my leg and Marta said not to KEEP my leg aid on him – but to give the aid, then remove it, give the aid, then remove it. Sure enough, that worked better. Marta says that when you give the aid and hold it – they tend to lean INTO your leg.
To finish, Marta had me hop on the Andalusian stallion she was riding, Brumoso. She trained him when she lived in Spain, and his owner sent him here for Marta to continue his training. He is a huge mover and a very powerful horse. There was NO way I could sit his trot! And that’s saying something because Faxx isn’t the easiest horse to sit, and I can sit his trot. Brumoso’s trot felt like passage! His canter, on the other hand, was fabulous to ride! He felt like he could canter on the spot!
So, my week of training was over! I learned a lot and I am sure this is going to help my riding with all my horses. My main goal was to get closer to confirming my flying changes, but everything improved. I’m not going to get too worked up about getting the changes perfect as long as everything else is going well and improving. Now I have to decide when I am going to make my third level debut!
I am very grateful to The Dressage Foundation and the “Gifted” fund for this opportunity. I never would have even thought of taking a week off work just to train ‘full time’ if I had not read about this special grant just for adult amateurs to do just that.
The grant did not cover the entire cost of the week, including hotel, meals, lessons, etc, but it covered most of it, making it very do-able.
I got home around 2:30 and Faeryn was very happy to see her friends. Later I rode Faeryn and applied the principles I learned this week and she did very well.
Fling and Faxx get the next two days off and Faeryn has to work this weekend!