Monday, February 3, 2014

Clinics Are Exhausting In A Good Way

I was trying to explain to some non horsey friends about why doing a 45 minute lesson at a dressage clinic is exhausting, both physically and mentally.  The best description I could come up with was that it's like a private Pilates/Yoga lesson with an instructor asking you to adjust different aspects of your pose....while jogging on a treadmill that your body adjustments control the speed and direction of.

My lessons were fantastic and both days we worked a lot on position fixes.  It was exactly what I wanted.  The basic gist of what I took away from this was this:

We need more jump in the canter and then I need to steer.  Licorice is used to being a hunter lesson horse.  He will canter a flat canter, on the rail for hours and hours at his own speed.  I need to ask him to jump in his step and then I need to make it clear that I'm the one driving the bus.

I actually need to tilt more forward.  I think this is left over from years of being told SIT BACK and from having a horse that scared me.  My default position is leaning back with a death grip.  B had me tilt more forward with my posting which instantly freed Licorice up to move more forward.

Don't change my position when moving from posting to sitting and vice versa.

When I go from posting to sitting and everything goes to hell in a handbasket, do not give up.  I need to out wait Licorice who will use this opportunity to speed up, throw his head up, go sideways, slow down and generally try and get me back to our safe spot of posting.

Relax, relax, relax.  In sitting trot, let myself relax with the motion.  When Licorice gets fast and strong think about doing a walk transition by relaxing my entire body.  So much more effective than trying to pull him!

We also worked on how fussy he is when I take up contact.  She said that I need to fix that before moving on to trot.  I usually would just get frustrated and would trot right away and then go back and work on the walk later.  B said Licorice needs to learn that contact isn't scary and that he can settle right into it.  She had me take up the reins and then do nothing but sit there while he walked.  His walk got slow, but she said for right now to just leave it (unless he tries to seriously stop) until he stops fussing.  From there I can ask for a better walk.  As soon as he was walking well with contact, we dropped the reins and started over again.  In five minutes, I was able to easily take up contact without any fussing.  Again, I need to wait Licorice out.

There were also the usual body fixes for me.  Drop my knees.  Relax my forearms.  Look through his ears rather then into the turn for the jump.

I'm excited to go try out what I've learned at my lesson tonight!


  1. Sounds like you learned a lot! And you got a picture of the two of you together!

  2. I love your description for non-horsey people, I may have to borrow that. Interesting how you have wait Licorice out, I have to do the same with SP. I have to constantly remind myself to sit still and well and ignore her evasions and fussing, without letting her push me out of my good position, until she gives up and goes nicely. It's so easy to fall into the habit of over-correcting which just results in an argument.... *sigh* SP and I have had a lot of fights haha!

  3. He's so cute! Happy for you two :)

  4. Sounds like an awesome clinic. Great picture too-he's gorgeous!

  5. Sounds like the clinic was a great success! Good pointers!