Ike and I had a bit of a hiatus from work this week. Or I guess it would be better stated that Ike had a hiatus from work this week while I had a hiatus from riding. Skipped a day because of the bitter cold and my hands were frozen from fiddling with Ike’s too small winter blankets. Missed a day because of my job that pays for my fun hobby. Sat idly by and watched the rain/sleet/wet snow fall for two days (thanks Mother Nature). Spent Thanksgiving cooking, eating, and spending time with my family. So finally today, the sun was out, I had a day off from work, and it was time to get my butt back in the saddle with a lesson from Ms. C.
As you can see in today’s picture, Ike wore his new yellow polo wraps. Ms. C tried to convince me to buy some a few weeks ago, but I balked for fear that Ike would look like a giant bumblebee. I finally ordered some when I ordered the big and husky sized sheet and blanket. We unveiled them today at our lesson and I have to say that he does look pretty good in yellow. I should have listened to Ms. C at the tack store…just like I do during our lessons. Lesson learned.
Today’s lesson was all about our lateral work. It is time to start strengthening our sideways motion since it becomes more important once you move beyond Training Level. Yes! It is finally time to move beyond Training Level. Luckily Ike showed us that he is indeed ready for the more demanding work. The question is: Am I ready? I hope so.
We started off with the simple turn on the forehand. At least, it should be easy. Turn the hind quarters around the front. I picked up contact with the reins, placed my weight in the appropriate foot and lightly touched Ike’s side. Hmm, Ike demonstrated side pass, backing, circles, and some yet-to-be-named movements. Every once in a while, Ms. C would note when we had a step or two that qualified as a turn on the forehand. Note to self – add turn on the forehand to our winter homework list.
Next up was leg yield in both directions. Ike is going to have a dynamite leg yield once the two of us can coordinate my aids with his movement. I need to learn to keep the boy’s body in the proper alignment. It is easy for me to correct the alignment when Ike’s shoulders start to get ahead of the hindquarters. But Alison, can you tell when you’ve let the hindquarters take the lead? Umm, nope. Not so much. Perhaps I need a rear view mirror. At least for now I have Ms. C to correct our position. I was proud that we did do well with the exercise of leg yield, to straight line, then back to leg yield. Phew, all our time spent schooling straightness is paying off. Patience, young grasshopper, patience.
We then moved on to shoulder in on the short ends to trot lengthening on the long side to collect the trot onto a small circle. While this tested Ike’s ability, it definitely tested my ability to execute a proper half halt, keep Ike properly aligned on a circle, achieve shoulder in without over bending the giraffe neck, then straightening Ike before asking for a lengthening. Having been a Training Level rider for most of my dressage career, I’ve not had to execute quick transitions or be as on point with my aids. This is all very new to me and somewhat overwhelming. More wintertime homework – less cruise control, more precision driving.
Our canter work today was less Scooby Doo, but still not where it needs to be for First Level. Improving the canter was already on the homework list, so it will continue to be there for the foreseeable future. Wax on, wax off, grasshopper.
It is so very exciting to see and feel Ike progressing in his training. It is tempting to blast ahead and keep asking for more and more. It is so very hard not to get greedy. But as I have learned during my equine adventures, continue to be patient and listen to my dear friend and trainer Ms. C. Our day will come and it will be worth the wait.