Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lesson with Rachel

My horse is a genius. 'Nough said.

Yesterday Ringo and I had a lesson with Rachel. He's been off pretty much all week because of the cellulitis flare up, so I was pretty unsure whether I was even going to ride him. Fortunately, he looked pretty clear as of last night, and with one more night of wrapping I was pretty confident that he was in the clear. Phew! But still, I wasn't sure what we were going to be able to produce in our lesson given the time off.

I was absolutely thrilled, then, when he warmed up super relaxed, free, and-- best of all-- even, which was a great relief to put my worries about his leg to rest. We got to work on some elements of the 4-1 test that we'll be doing at Woodside in three weeks (!!!), specifically the shoulder in tour in the trot and the half pass section of the canter. The pattern for the trot was:

- shoulder-in F to B,
- turn left, halt at X
- rein back 4 strides
- proceed trot, turn right
- shoulder-in E to H.

His shoulder in is a little better naturally to the right, so we started in the reverse of the actual test so that I could use the halt and a nice square turn to get my left leg a little better around him for the left shoulder in the first few times. I'd never done the rein back directly to the trot, and definitely had to remind myself to get the motor going again the first few times! But Ringo, being the superstar he is, picked up on what I was asking him very quickly. Using the halt as a means of scooting his hind end underneath him a bit more ended up being very effective for getting a better shoulder in to the left, so it was a bit of a challenge to reverse directions and do it the way the test dictates, but fortunately in the actual test this tour comes after the zigzags and first medium trot, so hopefully I'll be able to use those movements to get him equally attentive and light on his forehand (we can hope!). Overall, though, his shoulder-in felt fabulous (especially with me keeping Brian's comments on my position in the forefront of my mind). We then worked on a bit of trot half-pass, which is improving leaps and bounds; again, Brian's comments on my position, coupled with Rachel' great understanding of Ringo's temperament, really helped me improve the flow of the transitions into and out of the half pass.

After a quick walk break, we did the walk and canter section, which goes like this:

- at the walk tracking right, at M turn right
- between G and H, half pirouette right
- between G and M, half pirouette left
- at H, turn left
- S to P, extended walk
- P to F, collected walk
- F Canter right
- A down centerline
- L to R half-pass right
- R to M counter canter
- M flying change
- C circle 20m, with 5-6 strides super collected canter over the center line
- H to K medium canter
- A down centerline
- L to S half-pass left
- S to H counter canter
- H flying change

For the lesson, we modified it a bit by eliminating the change of rein in the walk and the super collected circle, going directly into the medium canter on the left from the walk pirouettes, and then doing the mirror (medium down the long side to the centerline to the half-pass) on the right. Again, I have a harder time with him on the left, so this was a bit of a challenge, but I at least had the collection of the half pirouettes to help me out. I still need to get my left leg better around him so that I can control him through the 10m half circle up the centerline so then produce a good half-pass to the left, but in general it wasn't too too bad. The right lead work was quite good, and his flying change in that direction was particularly nice. Good man, Ringo!!

I have to say, I'm getting so excited about Ringo in the dressage. Rachel is such a great instructor and I really feel like I've been improving by leaps and bounds under her tutelage. Plus, I think focusing on the flat for a while is going to really help us grow in our partnership for the jumping later on. Not to mention that he's just downright fun!

Meanwhile, I've been up since 3am watching Badminton online. AWESOME. This is a real four star, and frankly makes Kentucky last weekend look like a bit of a joke. How amazing it would be to get to gallop those fences! The real excitement, though, is that I can look at those wet and huddled spectators and realistically think that, in one year's time, I could very well be among them!! SO EXCITED.

Kiki and I will be going to the horse park this afternoon to do a little cross country school. I can bet that I'll be spending a bit of time mentally transforming the blasted, almost lunar landscape of the horse park into some green English parkland =)

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