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Rhythm: Lesson Recap 6/18

My favorite view :)
First, as I was typing in the title to this I realized that we're nearly half way through the year. Where has it gone?!? It seems like just yesterday that it was December.

Anyway, back to the lesson recap. My lesson yesterday (which was rescheduled from last Tuesday because of the heat) was amazing! It was another one where all the hard work we've been doing paid off.

To start off we were unsure what Katai's mood would be like since apparently she'd been horrid for Jane that morning. Because of that we started off with an extended warmup with a few laps of the ring at the trot in either direction (after lots of walk) and then circles before we added in serpentines. It paid off and Katai's stride length was great and I was able to keep her really pushing from behind for the most part.

For this lesson Jane was talking about getting and keeping her "soft at the poll" rather than talking specifically about round or bend and it really helped me. I can feel when she get's tight but sometimes I don't do anything about it because everything else is going well. This lesson, by focusing on that feeling rather than some of the pieces that come from it I was able to keep her much softer and more through over her back. We even had some really nice transitions!

I think the tough thing is that I know it's leg before hand and that I need to always push her forward into the contact. The problem is that being a greenie myself when it comes to dressage means that sometimes I'm trying to do that when Katai is so tight through the poll that it doesn't do anything productive and that's when she starts to rush. Being tight through the poll is something that is so normal for Katai that I almost always need to get her to give first and then push her forward with MANY reminders to give along the way. It's not that I can't do that, it's that I didn't always know I was supposed to since to me that's hand/rein first and then pushing forward and that's certainly not what the books/clinicians/experts tell you. At least not in the black and white way that I was thinking about it :)

Next we worked on shoulder in again. It's been awhile since we tackled this (shows and back to basics) so I was pretty rusty. However, the skills I've gained in the meantime were extremely helpful and with some coaching from Jane I was able to much more effectively control the rhythm and be more correct with my rein aids. Well, at least to the right. To the left it was a hot mess that only got slightly better before we quit but we did identify some of what I was doing wrong which means that I know what to work on.

Hanging out with the Vegetable in the backyard
enjoying our now beautiful weather :)
Finally we went to canter. To the right Katai did fairly well and had a decently slow rhythm with long strides (this was her tougher side a month ago) but she was struggling to the left. In that direction it was all quick footfalls and rushing. She even got bolty on me once, then broke, and when I asked for canter again all I could get was a trot. Jane got really quiet and I thought I'd really messed up (typically she doesn't get quiet) but once we took a walk break (after I finally got some canter) we talked and apparently it was an AMAZING trot. Jane said that she couldn't believe that Katai could produce that with her tiny body and now if we could only get half that trot for her lengthenings :) At least we know it's in there somewhere!

It was great timing since one of my goals is to continue to practice the shoulder in (and other lateral work) and now I have more things to work on. It was also encouraging that Jane was really happy with my position (overall) and how effective I was with my seat. It wasn't that long ago that I would have been unable to control Katai's rhythm at the trot or canter and this lesson it felt easier and Jane said it looked much better and that she was happy with it. High praise coming from Jane!


  1. Yay! That's excellent feedback, and so exciting about the trot!


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