Monday, February 21, 2011


Trainer gave birth to a new baby last week so we will be taking a hiatus from lessons for a while.  Just in time for show season!  Awesome.  So posting may be a little thin for a while but I will try and at least record our show results.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Few Adjustments

This was our last lesson before the schooling show this weekend.  Still too cold and windy to use the dressage arena - Drat!

We hadn't ridden much since our last lesson so we pretty much picked up where we left off.  Still trying to get Dexter off his right shoulder.  I think we made some progress although it seems like I almost have to hold him there, so we need to work on self carriage there.  I did learn the less I focus on his head and make smaller adjustments, the more consistent his is with his contact.  This was a concern of mine for the show.  I knew he could get on the bit and in a nice frame, but I hadn't been able to hold it for more than a couple of strides until this week.  I'm learning to worry less and just ride. 

His canter work was super good and consistent.  Still a little loosey-goosey going to the left but he is carrying himself much better.  And I didn't even realize it until this lesson but he's stopped going around with his head in the air.  We hadn't spent too much time worrying about his head in the canter and it kind of just fell into place, isn't that awesome.  We did a lot of long sides and I'm getting the idea, as long as I do a slight shoulder in or ask for one anyways, he stays more balanced.  Trainer described it as trying to thread his inside hind between his two front feet.

We practiced the center line, doing 10 meter circles down the long side to prepare.  We did both turning down from the left and right to see which works better.  He seemed more supple turning down left, but seemed to blow through my aides and ended up about a foot from the center line with his butt swung out to the right.  Turning down from the right, I had to keep my aides on pretty strong but he stayed more straight and it looked better.  Not sure which we will do at the show yet.

We practiced training level test 2,  and since we had worked on the center line it was much better, but the stretch circle and diagonals weren't perfect.  Right now they are as good as they are going to get for the show and I'm not going to overwork and stress about it, the last thing I want is Dexter to anticipate and get nervous about stretching.  But we know what to practice for the next show. 

I did notice his transitions from the canter to the trot are better than I expected.  Trainer hasn't let us practice those because we have worked so hard to keep him cantering down the long side that starting to transition may erase a lot of work we've done.  We will get there eventually, but not quite yet.  None the less, the few we have done in the tests aren't total disasters.  He is a little on the forehand and rushes his first few trot strides but I'm able to bring him back pretty quick.  I was worried we would be half cantering for a good while before he could relax.

So this Saturday is the show.... wish us luck.  We may not be 100% prepared, but there is only one way to find out.

Picking Up the Shoulder - Delayed

Sorry! I've been pretty busy so this post is actually for my lesson last week.  I really really wanted to ride outside in the dressage arena to prepare for my upcoming show, but no such luck. 

We didn't do a whole lot of new exercises, just trying to fine tune what we have going on right now.  Dexter is still having some balance issues, rhythm is good now he just needs to hold himself up.  Dexter likes to dive in when going to the right and pop out when going to the left.  He always has and it's gotten a lot better but he still has some tendencies.  So we spent a lot of time on a 15 meter circle to the right trying to get him balanced.  He is good for the first 3/4s of the circle then loses it as we head back to the rail.  Trainer had to constantly remind me to ride from the back to front, I think I finally got it near the end of the lesson.

We did the same work at the canter, at least Dexter is consistent with his flaws.  We also practiced cantering down the long side and not barreling down the long side.  He is getting much better, he still gets strong but doesn't completely loose it.  We even made it down the whole long side, I know it doesn't sound like much but before we could only do half at a time before he would fall apart.  And I am finally able to relax at the canter.  For so long I would get stiff and push him every stride, now that he is getting it, I can sit back and make minor adjustments.  Now that I can enjoy it, he has a super comfortable canter.

We ran through Training Level Test 1 in prep for the show.  It wasn't a total disaster.  Things we obviously don't practice much - traveling down the center line, the stretch circle (although we do stretch quite a bit it takes more than a circle to get there), diagonals, and the working walk. So before ending we practiced some stretch circles.  It's interesting to see how far me and Dexter have come and what still holds us back.  He used to avoid the bit like the plague and now he leans on it comfortably.  But when we go into the stretch and I ask him to follow the bit down he gets confused and curls his neck avoiding it again.  Like I said, he finally figures it out after a while but I have to be super soft because any correction brings him right back up.  Not sure why he defaults to this, but we are working on it. 

We still need to work on his center line, he goes down it anticipating a turn somewhere. So it's more of a center wiggle than a center line.  But he was pretty pooped after all the canter work so we will save that for the next time.