Pick his shoulders up, don’t drop him on his head!

Today we went for our first lesson of 2012, and it felt great to be back in serious training again after the Christmas delays (with Dustry’s teeth and my instructor Amanda Brewer being away in her native home of Oz for the festive season). I haven’t been working him as ‘up and together’ as we were pre-xmas because I sort of ‘lost it’ a little due to the break in training, so it was great today to be coached back to (almost) where we were in November, and rediscover the feeling for how I should be riding/what I need to be asking for.

Today we worked on….

1/ Suppling up his neck, on a circle, ask him to work on the stretch, make sure you have enough inside bend. Pick him up from the stretch, re-balance, then ask him back down onto the stretch again

2/ Leg yielding, and then keeping this leg yield feel into our canter transitions, making sure he remains on the bit

3/ Keep my hands as a pair and ‘in a box’ – elbows, shoulders flexible

4/ When riding a corner, make sure to ask for inside bend well before to supple his neck, then give a soft inside rein through the corner as a reward

5/ To get him back on his hocks, and take more weight on his hind legs, do a little ‘Chloe half halt’ on every stride if needed

6/ Think RHYTHM, and BALANCE do not chase him

7/ Think rounder in the neck, and pick his shoulders up, don’t drop him on his head!

Canter and trot exercise to improve my accuracy and teach Dustry to take more weight on his inside hind, and encourage more suppleness through his whole body…

  • Ride a 20m circle accurately hitting each circle point, and making sure that you are continually turning round the circle. Steadily reduce this circle to a 18/16/14/12/10m circle, and then leg yield back out to 20m and start again.
  • During this exercise I need to make sure I imagine I am turning him on his hind legs, as if there is a fence to be jumped, because this image seemed to click for me
  • Whilst doing this in the canter I need to make sure I don’t draw back, and remain flexible in the hand

It’s quite a lot of actions for one small brain (mine not Dustry’s!) to remember to do simultaneously so for 2012 I am starting a new tradition of writing lesson notes in a pad as soon as I get back from every lesson because this hopefully will help things ‘stick’

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