NYE Lesson

I had a lesson on the last day of the year, even though I'm not supposed to ride horses on new years eve. I somehow have ended up in hospital from horse related injuries twice and so my husband banned me. However ride I did and we had one of our best lessons of 2019.
Getting chunky!

I hadn't planned to have a lesson but my rides at home have been frustrating and I haven't been able to improve them on my own. I have the tools to improve them but sometimes you just need someone to see what you're doing and tell you how to do it better. A lot of the time my issues fix themselves under my coaches eye anyway because I ride calmer and without my own brain getting in the way.

We started with a quick catch up, with me explaining how things have been going at home and that we have both been over reactive. Henry was not super charged as I warmed up, instead he was quiet and listening, soft and ready to get to work.
So fance!

The first thing I did was walk and trot around with Bec watching us and seeing where our current baseline is. Were we straight, was Henry in front of my leg, was he bulging or crooked? Was my position ok, were my hands up and in front of me, was I straight or was a slouching. I had a few minor tweaks to make to me, I just needed to  lift my hands and open my chest more and then we got to work on Henry.

I just want to put this in here for my own reference: My position is hands down the best it has ever been. I only have to make minor tweaks now, mostly just to carry my hands a bit higher and to tuck my tail and open my  chest and these things only have to be said once in a lesson. Once I am right, Henry follows and I only ever have to make minor adjustments to our posture. It's amazing to me and I love it so much.
Much prance!

Once we had the baseline sussed we worked on an exercise to help straighten Henry and make sure I was using my aides correctly. We went around the arena, adding in a 12m circle at A, E, C and B. An older horse could do a 10m circle but for now Henry gets to do 12m. I needed to make sure that Henry was not falling in or our, that he was up through his poll and not losing impulsion.

The left was easier than the right, but both side were ok. I need to ride with my inside leg more and focus on getting him around my leg. His ribcage is easy  to move and he's not stiff which is so nice compared to Coolie. When I rode with my leg Henry was a lot straighter and not leaning on my right hand. I also had to make sure I was giving with my right hand and if he diid lean I needed to half halt and release.

We build on the exercise by adding shoulder in and travers, alternating between each lateral movement. We started on the left and ran through the exercise in the walk. It was fairly easy on the left, the travers was harder than shoulder in but there was nothing major to fix. Travers on the right rein as so much harder though, Henry was having to work to complete the exercise at both the walk and the trot.

On both reins in trot I set us up in a small trot that I sat to. I made sure Henrys posture was off the forehand and he was relaxed in the  small trot before we began. The shoulder in went well on both reins but to the right I needed to leg yield to keep the angle, then but my legs back into position for shoulder in to help shape the movement. While shoulder in is not leg yield, yielding to shape the angle was very useful and Henry did a good job.

For travers I need to prepare early and maintain the inside bend. I really need to slow things down for Henry and praise him when he gets a few good steps because it's really hard for him. Bec was impressed with us though and Henry was so willing to give it a go.

To finish we cantered, working on getting Henry more upright. We used the deep sand to slow his canter right down and get him sitting on his hind end. I did the slowest canter we could through the sand on one long side and then did shallow canter counter loops on the other. To the right this was very easy, but to the left, Henrys much weaker side, he really struggled to sit. To help him I lightened my seat and stretched my heel right down, and I pictured my feet touching  the floor to ensure my weight was in my heels and not on Henry's back. Third time through Henry nailed it and the difference was clear. He really worked hard but his canter felt free and powerful.
Sitting on our butts is hard

This lesson really helped to point out where Iw as going wrong at home. I  haven't been riding with my legs enough so that's the main homework we have. Plus I need to slow everything down and quietly correct Henry when he makes  a mistake. I need to accept that things aren't going to be perfect  all the time and take the time to do the corrections in a way that helps shape the behaviour.
Hunky even at the walk

Henry felt so, so good in this lesson, and our new normal is very cool, we are both sitting up and maintaining a consistent frame and contact. It make riding him light and easy and I really felt like a dressage rider the whole time. This is significant progress for us and I just need to  remember to slow down and take my time!


  1. Henry (and you) look amazing!! Wow very FANCY PANTS! Love it....He is really growing up he looks like a totally different horse than when i started following you! Glad you managed not to get in the hospital on NYE :)


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