I'm going to start a journal of my lessons with Archie. Something I can use to easily look back at what we have worked on and learned over the years. We are doing back to back lessons once a month for dressage as my coach only comes down my way that often. Jumping lessons should commence in the New Year.
It feels good to be back in lessons. I hadn't been lessoning all summer because my jumper coach was always coaching elsewhere when I could schedule a lesson, and I couldn't afford the lessons with the dressage coach I wanted to work with. There were no other options in my area I trusted to work with with Archie. Now that show season has winded to a halt, I have some extra funds to focus towards lessons. I enjoy lessons as much as I enjoy competing. Even more so when I have a competent instructor who I actually learn from.
Having watched my moms lessons all last year I knew I really liked Daphnes teaching style and the steady improvment my mom was making was reassuring. I also knew Daphne had trained a Thoroughbred to Grand Prix and competed succesfully with it. I knew I needed a coach who could understand my horse. Riding and training a Thoroughbred is just so different from riding and training a warmblood.
We worked in the first lesson strictly on Archies rhythm. Keeping the same one-two beat for the entire ride. I was told to sit heavy and deep if I wanted to slow Archie down. Make him trot to my beat using my posting only. It worked. We then worked on having Archie learn to accept the leg, and not run off from it. I did walk and trot circles, pressing him over with the inside leg to spiral out, then using the outside leg to spiral him in. I did this and only this for a month. I am not to worry about Archies head carriage at all. Archie does not have good balance at this point and needs to learn to balance on his own and not with my hands.
There was a noticeable improvement in his balance and rhythm in this lesson. I was able to ask him for more trot and he is bringing his head into a nice frame on his own. It will still be a few months until he is able to have self carriage and hold a steady frame with out balancing on my hands for support. Doing things this way and correcting him will mean he can go a lot further in his training down the road.
I have basically learned how to ride Archie and get what I need to from him, but what we need to do is retrain him so he can be ridden like a normal horse. This way we will be able to get much more out of him, and he will eventually learn to relax and accept the leg and hand. This lesson we worked at the trot. I asked Archie to move away from my inside leg to carry himself straight. When I did this he would bulge with his outside shoulder so I was to hold the outside rein and move his shoulder back so he was straight. When he does this correctly I give a scratch and praise. Daphne explained he needs to learn the diagonal aids - outside rein - inside leg. He needs to find comfort in the outside rein. This exercise works very well when he becomes tense. As soon as I feel tension, I ask him to move away from my right leg. When he does I release the leg immediately and ask his outside shoulder to move back onto the straight (of the circle). As soon as he does this he relaxes and breathes out. Eventually, this will be the aid we give when we need to relax Archie.
Archie is learning to find comfort in the circle. This is sort of like a security blanket for him. I ask him to move down the long side but I take the first step of the circle. I continue to ride that line down the wall (otherwise known as shoulder-in). They key is to not hold the inside rein. This is outside rein, with inside leg. This is the hardest thing for me, not using my inside rein. Archie and I have learnt to compromise with this inside rein. Wehn Archie tenses I simply put him back on a circle. Move him over with my inside leg and he relaxes into my outside rein. Once he is relaxed I continue onto the long side in shoulder-in. We repeated this exercise several times. This exercise will build, straightness, strength, and eventually teach Archie to fins comfort in these more difficult movements.
We did a little bit of canter work focusing on the same principles. Archie was not responsive to the half halt so I was instructed to halt immediately if he did not come back for me. Once I pick up canter again try the half halt. Did it work? If it did then release and let him canter. If not then we halt again. Release at the halt also. He must learn that giving the reins is not an aid to move forward. The leg is the aid to move forward. This is my homework for the next month until my next back-to-back lesson weekend.
I also have some of it video'd:
Pretty excited to learn how to ride my horse properly <3