I had my weekly lesson with my friend Laura yesterday, and it went really well, a lot better than I was expecting to start with. Brevan and I were both grumpy and uptight at the beginning, as about ten minutes before my lesson, he’d gone through the stall guard in the doorway of his stable, ripping the ring it was attached too, out of the wall. Baring in mind that he was tied up and tacked up at the time. I was therefore a tad cross, and gave him a telling off as I put him back in the stable, which made him rush into the stable and slip on the concrete, as I had the bed up to let the floor air and dry. This wasn’t the best start to our lesson.
Laura got me to relax as we warmed up, mainly by us having a good natter as I let Brevan amble round while he streched down. He’s getting very good now at stretching through his back and neck in all three paces. We get a lot less giraffe impressions now than we used to. Once we were both chilled out and warmed up in all the paces, we started working properly.
As usual, we started off with lateral work in walk, to get him to me and responsive to the aids, as well as making sure that he’s nice and supple. So we did leg yielding followed by travers, shoulder in and half pass. Brevan is coming on in leaps and bounds with this, he’s no longer so tense, tight and hollow in these movements like he was a year ago. Actually, a year ago we couldn’t even get half pass, he’d just grump and bronk in his confusion and lack of understanding. He was a little stiff with the lateral work, but we’re both due our monthly sports massage and he had just slipped in the stable, so I’ll allow for a bit of stiffness and tension.
Then it was time to play with the trot. Again, we did some lateral work, and his stiffness was more pronounced in the trot work. but, he did try for me, Laura said that she could see the concentration on both our faces. The improvement since last year is huge, again, there’s more relaxation and less tension in the lateral work, and last year, if Brevan found something hard, he would just throw his toys out of the pram and have a huge paddy, which would then make me annoyed and grumpy back at him, creating a vicious circle. Now, he’ll try even though it’s hard for him, I can tell that he’s trying even though I may not be getting what I’m asking for, so I don’t get grumpy and frustrated. A win win all round! We also played with extension and collection of the trot, and wow! I think that we may have finally cracked and mastered a decent medium trot. The collected trot isn’t too bad either.
After the trot work and a break, Laura wanted me to have a play with some medium level movements, seeing as I want to do medium level tests next year (I had wanted to do them this year, but we’ve not been as ready for them as I’d hoped). We just played with some walk movements, but I’ll admit, that we don’t do as much work in the walk as we probably should do. So Laura got us doing quarter pirouettes, which we’ve not touched for ages, and Brevan did them perfectly. We also played with extended walk and collected walk which we’ve not done before, and they went better than I expected.
To finish with, we had a little play with the canter. By this time I was definitely getting tired, as I was doing all this with no stirrups, and my back was still hurting from last weeks lesson. We were’t expecting anything brilliant from the canter work because of this, so there was probably less pressure from me for it to be perfect. It went a lot better than we’d hoped. We did some half ten metre circles with a simple change through X, and they weren’t too bad. We had a stride or two more walk than needed in the change, but Brevan does have a tendency to miss the walk entirely, and I don’t think he’s far off learning flying changes. We also had a go at canter half pass, but I messed that up, as I got cramp in my calf halfway through the movement. Until that point though, it was really good. We then had a quick go of in on the other rein (let’s cripple me completely before we finish) just to even things out, and then we called it a day.
Laura had to lead Brevan round to cool him off as I was totally broken by this point. She had to help me off and I then basically sat on the floor holding onto Brevan’s leg while my hips and spine decided if they wanted to work again any time soon (this is not an unusual occurrence when I’ve worked hard, as I have dodgy hip joints, arthritis and sciatica in my lower spine, so having a bouncy horse isn’t always so fun).
As much as riding without stirrups kills me, my position and effectiveness is so much better, and Brevan also goes a lot better as well. I think that I need to include no stirrup work more often into my schooling over the winter. Fingers crossed that this work has a positive effect on our dressage scores when we compete again next year. No pain, no gain, so they say.