Inside leg to outside hand!

We had a great lesson tonight, but it was hard work and Henry didn't make it easy. In fact Henry was tense and  sharp which was perfect because that's what he has been like at home. It's all well and good when he's being normal but it doesn't help me when I am at home suffering through this feeling a bit lost!
This is what I have been  dealing with, a tense, braced horse

I started  out filling Bec in on what happened at the weekend i.e. great show jumping but terrible dressage and saying that I needed to work on my warm up and keep him busier, push him forward  and get  his attention better before we go in the ring.

We got  to work  on lowering Henrys neck  and getting him to relax. I worked him around the arena, changing his neck  position slightly  as I went, lifting his poll and then asking him to lower it, really  focusing on his inside ear,  making sure he was listening to me. The key was to ride indie leg to outside rein, which was the theme for the lesson.

Once I had him stretching down his rhythm settled and we had  a lovely march trot moving forward. He was also noticeably more relaxed. After a quick walk break and debrief, Bec telling me that that quiet work I had been  doing was what I need to do in my warm up at competitions (it took about 15 minutes or so). Transitions within the pace,  small changes in his head and neck position and checking I had his inner ear on me. Plus having him around my inside leg.

Next we had a play with shoulder in, and it was actually very easy. Both reins felt light and easy and we got a good  angle. He did start bracing his neck though so we started to work through that. Henry Was pulling through the outside rein so we did transitions just using my body and the outside rein. It wasn't bad halting off the right rein but he was particularly resistant to halting off the left rein. I also needed to hold the outside rein in my  upward transitions.
Relaxing and working

The outside rein was the key, and Henry was a good dobber when I wasn't holding the outside rein. He was really braced against me and so I just quietly worked away ensuring I wasn't letting him grab the outside rein. I  used flexion and counter flexion and had to be pretty firm about it. As soon as he relaxed and gave me his neck I made it easy and nice for him. I need to get quicker about releasing my inside hand too. We also gave him plenty of stretchy breaks too.

We did the same thing in canter and he relaxed much faster. We did lots of transitions too, aiming for low head and neck and relaxation.
Our canter is the best!

It was a good lesson and exactly what I needed. I feel like I have a solid plan now and it was a good reminder that I need to ride using my outside rein more effectively. I need to do transitions in within the pace, and get Henry's inside ear focusing on me. I just have to work quietly and consistently and I feel confident we will get back to where we were in no time.


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