Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March Dressage Lessons on Ronnie

Chunkin up'

  I have climbed out of my hole I have been hiding in.  Winter is almost over.  At least I am telling myself that. While I actually haven't minded this winter all that much, the weather just has not been co operating.  The arena I rent has lessons Tuesday and Thursdays so I avoid riding those nights for my own sanity and just out of respect.  Of course then every Monday, Wednesday, or Friday we have been getting snow storms, ice pellets, torrential rain and if it is nice, we get 75km winds.  Oh winter in Canada is not for the faint of heart.

  I had a few weeks there where I wasn't able to ride at all, but things are turning around and riding is becoming a part of my life again. Yay for sanity!  Veronica had a few months holiday of her own.  My mom was busy with work and then went south for holidays, so we waited until all that blew over before we started to get her geared up for this season.

  She is probably about 10 rides back into the swing of things, and then last weekend my coach was down for our monthly lesson.  We took January and February off from lessons because the weather just didn't work out.  So I have been without a dressage lesson for a few months.  I always can feel myself needing a lesson at about the 3 week mark after my last one, so needless to say I was feeling pretty desperate to get some help.

this was the first day back to work

  Clearly I was needing the help too, after warming up coach Daphne left to her truck and came back with a neck strap.  She made me place the neck strap in my extra finger like you would with a curb rein, in my outside rein, and ride my entire lesson like this.  The purpose is to help train my hands, which I complain about over and over on here, but seriously have you ever worked so hard on something and still make like, little to no progress?  Thats my hands.  Always pulling in their own directions when I don't want them too. Trying to make the horse do things, when really I just want them to be soft and effective. Not to mention, pretty.

  So apparently the neck strap as a rein will stabilize my hand and make me ride from my legs and seat and also get me those Charlotte hands I want so badly.  Immediately, as I walked off I felt my outside hand swing out and pull only to get caught by the neck strap.  And again. And again and again. Oh man, it was going to be a long ride!  It was actually pretty crazy to feel how often my hand was trying to correct Ronnie instead of be the steady contact she needed.  It was pretty much every stride or every few strides.  Daphne warned me my arms would be burning in pain by the end.  As they were, and as was every other part of my body.  Ronnie of course, seemed very happy with the set up.

such a cutie!

  We spent the majority of the lesson working on my position, sitting taller, closing my ribs down with my chest up, hands quiet, and then of course with a better position, Ronnie just came into herself and carried herself better.  Daphne also pointed out that I am always demanding, or making her do things, instead of teaching her the aid.  Like flexion, if she doesn't give I just ask harder and harder until she does.  She showed me how to slow it down, explain the aid to her, then ask properly and reward when she gets it.  Of course we were doing all this while my outside rein is basically stuck to the neck strap and I feel awkward and uncomfortable, but the results shone through.

  I felt like a total numpty for both days of lessons, but watching the video I can see it looks way better than it feels.  Daphne said to me that I can train her to do what she needs to, but if we want her to continue up the levels, then I need to be much more "finer tuned" with my aids, less sloppy, and basically demand better.  Of course we want to do well at Training level this year, but the long term goal is actually training her to be the best horse she can and see how far we can go together.  I have always been a capable rider, but this journey is taking my riding to a whole new level.  It excites and motivates me to be the best I can be.

 I am supposed to ride for the next ten rides at least with the strap, but I think I will use it for at least the month and see where we are at.  There is a short video of our lesson below, see if you can notice my outside rein holding onto it.  Lots to work on before next months lessons! 


  1. Feel is such a weird thing. Things can feel correct but are not. Then the fix feels wrong. That why regular sessions with a knowledgeable person (and media) are so helpful. I’m so excited to see all the things I need to fix when I get back to it. 🙄

    1. Media and mirrors I feel are necessary at this stage to see where I am truly at lol

  2. That neck strap idea is genius! And everything you noted about correcting too much instead of teaching the aid...oh my. That hits me in the hey-I-do-that feels. It sounds like you're on a great path forward. I'll be really interested to hear how the use of the neckstrap & slowing down to teach aids evolves your riding!

    1. One of those things you don’t even know you are doing wrong but once corrected you are like... wow! I’m so lucky to have my coach, she is so incredibly educated.

  3. I feel ya on the rogue hands... a clincian once made me hold onto my breastplate for a good 50% of my lesson haha.

  4. omgosh sometimes i look down during a ride and one of my hands will be like.... hovering way off over by my knee or something. it's crazy. why don't the hands just stay where i put them?!? the neck strap idea is a good one! a trainer once knotted some baling twine to my d-ring too, as something to hang on to as an anchor. this was helpful bc it was less likely to make me tip my upper body down or forward like i might if my neck strap was too low.

  5. Ugh let us not talk about hands or my twisted pelvis... this is why I ride babies.... "oh I am just adjusting to him/her, staying out of their way you know. So they can figure out their own balance first" :O Haha. Great work!

  6. God she's such a beauty of a horse. And, I LOVE the neckstrap idea. I used it a LOT to help me balance and stay steady in lengthenings when first starting them. They're a godsend. Haha


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