Thursday, July 23, 2015


 I'm really excited because my last few rides have been phenomenal.  I have really improved a lot since January, when I began riding with Laura.  These last few rides, I was able to keep Lucky round and on the bit pretty consistently throughout the ride, even through many of the transitions.  I now have a feel of what it should be like to keep a horse on the bit, which is a great foundation to build from.  I've been riding Lucky in a western saddle, which has really helped me with my position, balance, and hand steadiness.

 Lucky was really fresh when I lunged, because I haven't ridden her in almost two week(I was at summer camp a few weeks ago).  However, it was nice with her because she was pretty forward and sensitive to my aids for the most part.
Lucky is round and free in her back in this picture, and my position is good.
 I kept her nice, round, and soft for most of the beginning of the ride.  Once again, I rode that serpentine exercise that has the walk strides in between the change of directions, where the horse is straight.  I rode the exercise better this time than last time.  Although Lucky wasn't round for all the transitions, I was able to keep her round for most of them, and my walk transitions were much more timely.  She walked easily, without me having to prepare very early.
Not so great balance here on my part(if you enlarge you can see my lower leg has swung back).
Consequently, Lucky is unbalanced.
 While I did have this success, it wasn't all easy. I had to work hard throughout; it is very difficult, technical things I am learning.  About halfway through, I had Lucky became a bit fussy and unwilling to go forward, starting to back.  I didn't know what to do. Laura instructed me to bout my hands forward and to make Lucky go forward.  I worked through it, pushing Lucky on forward and gaining her respect.  In this situation, I had to be the alpha mare.

 I then did another tough exercise. I started a 20 meter circle to the right at A, then just past K I had to make a diagonal to R.  Then I would do the same thing at C, making a diagonal from H to P.  This is another deceptively difficult exercise.  It seems simple, but takes a coordination of many aids.  Just at the end of the diagonal, I must:

A. Change bend with the new inside rein and inside leg.
B. Use the new outside leg to push Lucky's shoulders over to straighten her.
C. Change my posting diagonal.

Not a very perfect diagram, but just a general idea of what the exercise was like.
 That is a lot to think about.  More than a few times, I wouldn't get the correct bend, or wouldn't straighten her, or wouldn't get the correct posting diagonal.  Sometimes, I would make the turn onto the diagonal a bit late. In this case I turned around I started again, because making the turn late would make it Impossible to finish the exercise correctly.  It certainly challenged me, but I rode through it nicely a few times.

Another great, balanced picture.
 After the exercise, I cantered Lucky a few times.  I have a problem of getting tense in my back when cantering, and I have difficulty getting my legs still.  I think I may be getting a bit tight in my knees as well, which would contribute to an unsteady lower.  Relaxing and melting deeply into the saddle, allowing my hips to flow freely, is something I need to work on.  To finish, I free walked Lucky, focusing on my position and on letting my hips move freely with her shoulders.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Goals for the Rest of 2015

 I have always had small things I wanted to improve on in my riding, as well as distant long term goals(my dream of riding in Rolex), but I have not been good about making more immediate, concrete, long term goals–ones I can complete in a year of less to measure my progress.  I haven't until now, that is.  I talked with Laura so we could come up with goals I can complete by the end of the year. This is what we came up with.

  • Be able to keep Lucky round at all gaits and through transitions for most of each ride without a running martingale.
I want to look like this more often, except with better arm, hand, and leg position.

If I complete the first goal:
  • Ride in the nearby dressage schooling show in October, at Intro or Training Level, depending on how well I am doing.  This can help me to see where my skills are at.
Those are really the main things that will work towards this year.  The first one is what I have been working on these past few months, and is the foundation for any riding I do in the future, so it makes sense to work on it.  It is an essential skill.  Hopefully all goes as planned and I can ride in my first show.  I'm excited about working on these goals!

Also, I have post about my last ride, which was great, planned so keep an out for it.