Sorry, super cheesy Game of Thrones reference for the title, but after last week's epic episode, how could I resist?? I also have to say that "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," has been my little personal mantra of late as I've tried to keep trucking along with my very sore and unhappy back. I gritted my teeth and went to my lesson with Kim today, and while I was feeling a little bowed and a little bent by the end, I certainly wasn't broken :)
I decided to take Ky to my lesson because he's significantly less strong compared to Ringo and I can do most of my work with Ky in rising trot, whereas with Ringo I really need to be sitting to do good work, and sitting is... not in the cards at the moment. It's been a long time since Kim last saw Ky, so I was really hoping that she'd agree that he's been improving in leaps and bounds this spring. And despite my pretty bad and stiff piloting, he was perfect! And Kim definitely agreed that he's a new horse compared to six months ago - yay!!
Also excitingly, my dad was able to come out and get some videos of my lesson for the first time since the winter, so I actually have some visual evidence of his improvement. Unfortunately my phone ran out of space pretty early on so we didn't get the end of the lesson (when, of course, Ky was going much better!), but I'm still super pleased with how he looks even in the early work. Here's a warm up leg yield and some early canter:
Also, check out my new helmet cover! I decided to upgrade to celebrate my acceptance to Pembroke College at Oxford, whose sporting color is cerise... a fancy way of saying hot pink. So for this last summer of riding, my colors have shifted from grey and white to grey, pink, and white - I think it looks pretty sharp! And it's definitely visible, haha.
And here's some leg yield the other way:
I was super pleased that Kim complimented me on the progress we've made in our leg yields since the winter. When I started riding Ky it wasn't obvious that he understood what the leg yield was all about, so I had to go back to ground work and start all over again with the lateral work. Now he's actually schooling baby half-passes at home; it's so cool to feel how far he's come.
Here was some more canter to the right:
His canter actually improved a TON after we ran out of video (classic), to the point where it was actually feeling legit fancy and not just 'training-level frame' fancy. The way we improved the quality of his canter was by improving the quality of the transitions, especially up from trot. This isn't surprising given all my lessons over the winter with Ringo, where the transitions have proved key in improving the strength and jump of his canter. Like with Ringo (but to a larger degree), Ky tends to tighten his back, pop his head up, and actually jam his shoulders down in the upward transition, which means not only that the transition itself is ugly, but also that we've started off on the wrong foot for getting the best possible canter.
(The little dude lookin swag)
By really paying attention to the upward transition and making sure that I'm being a little firmer than I think I need to be, we were able to have a sort of cosmic breakthrough on the quality. Kim said it was easily a 2 point difference on the score we'd receive on our transitions, and my Pa (who finds watching dressage lessons akin to monitoring paint drying) actually whooped and clapped! Wahoo!! By the end of the lesson we were getting the good transitions much more consistently, and I think I've got a good idea of what I need to do on my own over the next few weeks.
It was heartening that I was able to make it through a whole lesson, though I definitely was feeling pretty crappy by the end. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to show this weekend, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed! Hopefully Ringo will play along and not be as strong as sometimes has a tendency to be...
(New helmet cover and... a new helmet! I actually have had this new helmet for a few years but have only worn it a handful of times. My old helmet was getting super disgusting but I was waiting to get the new cover before replacing it: a lucky decision, as I probably would have wanted to consider getting a new helmet anyway after my fall on Sunday!)
(Seriously, which would you rather put on your head??? Sorry old helmet (which in this picture has switched from the left side to the right side), but it's a no-brainer)