I had my second lesson with L on Sunday and I’m just as impressed. She is wonderful, everything I was looking for in an instructor and it doesn’t hurt that she seems to really like my pony. She’s the calm voice of reason when things are getting a little crazy with my greenie and she’s great at seeing what I’m doing that I need to change and pointing it out without overwhelming me with too much info at once. I think my favorite thing though is that she is catering the lessons to me and Katai and what we need to work on at any given moment and not trying to force us into working on something that “all of her other students are having success with” like J would.
We were also multitasking since there was a desensitization clinic going on at the same time. I’m always struck by the different thought process between Dressage riders and trail riders or eventers. The latter just expect that their horses deal with things that could be scary such as tarps, bridges, flags etc. and the former seem to expect that there is no way in hell that their horses could ever handle such a thing. The western riders at the barn had set up a desensitization clinic on the Sunday so while I was riding in my lesson they were playing drums, riding over bridges, and waving flags around. The dressage riders at the barn didn't want to go near the arena. My feeling is that it is ultimately no different than what could be going on at a show so Katai would just have to deal and after a brief freakout when we first walked into the obstacle filled arena she was great! I expected her to behave and keep her mind on the dressage lesson and she did.
On Sunday we started where we had left off at our last lesson, getting Katai to not be as quick by slowing my posting. Right away she said it looked way better than last week and mentioned that Katai is very intelligent and is picking up on things quickly. She adjusted a few things I was doing and answered a few of my questions. Then we upped the difficulty and started to work on making sure that Katai wasn’t counterbending. This is why everyone needs an instructor because I had NO idea how counterbent she was. As soon as L started having me make some gentle corrections I could feel the difference in Katai’s entire body. Now I just have to be able to do this without eyes on the ground :-)
Next we added a few different patterns at the trot. First we did a 20 meter circle until she was moving correctly and then made a much smaller 10 meter, or so – sometimes I suck at steering – circle in the center of the bigger one. This exercise the pony got but I didn’t and I kept throwing her away when we went out and not supporting her. I eventually got my act together and then we went on to another exercise that L said should look like a YinYang where we changed directions in the middle of a 20 meter circle. This exercise I was better at but it made pony very, very fussy. She didn’t want to have to balance and is still green enough that it feels like I’m trying to drive a semi truck around a 10 foot circle rather than a small maneuverable pony around a 10 meter circle. We were both starting to get this figured out so we gave her a break. I’m always so happy to have new things to work on and I could feel how much better this made her and how she was carrying herself better after so I’m really looking forward to doing this exercise this week!
Finally, after a nice long walk break, we went to the canter. We started in her easier direction and again the focus was on not letting her counterbend her way around the 20 meter circle. L also had me work on getting her canter more forward which felt WAY better! This is another time where I was so thankful that I had someone telling me what I needed to work on because I’ve been happy with her slow, poky canter but now I know what a better canter feels like so I can work on it :) Then we switched to go in the opposite direction, Katai's tough side, and all hell broke loose. Of course it was an adorable pony sized hell but still. She was fussy and bouncy and wanted nothing to do with bending in the correct direction. I'm sure it was tough and we were asking her to use muscles that she'd not used before so I have no issue with it but it got a little rough and then suddenly I thought she'd bucked but L yelled "let her have a walk break!" and once I'd gotten her slowed down L told me that she'd just done a clean flying change.
Think this ->