More Dressage!

After a slightly testing week, Saturday was bright and sunny and Henry and I were ready for dressage club. I had the best of intentions to arrive early but it wasn't to be and I arrived about 5 minutes before my lesson was supposed to start. Thankfully the lessons were also running late so I got to tack up and have a solid warm up anyway. What a relief. 

Where Henry was lovely and relaxed in the warm up, he got tense as soon as our first lesson started (meaning I probably did too!). The coach, Liz, asked what exercises are good for helping to relax a tense horse and I have two more to add to my repertoire now!
He's looking pretty good

To start we spiralled in on a 20m circle to 10m, then when Henry softened we yielded back to the 20m circle. He softened quickly, but I needed to keep the trot going, he would slow down and slack off if I wasn't on his case about it. When he was forward he would soften faster. We did the exercise on both reins and he relaxed fairly quickly, so we went large to practice 10m loops on the long side, which are in an upcoming dressage test I have to do.

As we were trotting large Liz said to circle and spiral in any time he got tense, but he stayed relaxed, and with frequent reminders to keep the trot pumping he was lovely  and soft in the bridle too. Our loops weren't too bad, and I got a helpful hint: ride across the short diagonal, change the flexion and bend before x, maintain it until you change it back just before you reach the long side. I've been riding these loops for years but I hadn't ever clued on to riding across the short diagonal so that will be a big help and hopefully  we can be more accurate in tests now!
Can't wait to do more of this, more fun than dressage!

Liz talked me through another good exercise for tension which she dubbed sloppy leg yields across the diagonal. On the left rein I went across the long diagonal, changed the flexion to the right and leg yielded left. I had to keep the yield all the way to the other side and got told off the first time for having it too steep. This exercise made a huge difference and Henry really started loosening up and swinging after we had done a couple off each rein. Very useful for competition warm ups!

We finished the lesson with a canter and that was all pretty good and easy. Our transitions were good and we did some counter canter loops which just about happen on their own these days. All in all a very productive and useful lesson. 

I really like  this coach, she works us hard but she is very fair, and she knows how thoroughbreds tick. I have had a few lessons with her now and I really  appreciate everything I have learnt from her so far. 
Posing Rosie

I went straight into my  second lesson without any break, where we worked on straightness, first on the long side then on a circle. Henry was ok, pretty straight consistently.

We did 10m loops again, which also went quite well although I forgot to change bend and flexion as well as I think my brain was getting tired. 

Then talked about half halts, how to, why etc. Started building the half halt by trotting then walking 3 strides and then trotting again. Mine felt fine, Henry was feeling resposice to all the aides. From there we built up to almost walking, then trotting on when we were about to break. Henry didn't want to, he was resistant and ignoring me or tensing. I needed to insist he stay soft when I asked him it got better as the lesson progressed though. 

To finish we talked about building half halts into the loops we had just done and then practiced it. I felt like it went fine though Henry needs to be less resistant still. It was also interesting to watch the  other riders in my lesson go, and  how their horses improved with the very simple exercise. 

All  in all another excellent and fun  rally. So happy  to be able to go and learn so much  more about dressage!
Watching the rain come in over the city


  1. that sounds so productive and fun! i haven't done any dressage lessons in... forever, and not just bc of the quarantine haha. it's kinda hard to get excited about it when both my horse and i are so bad at it LOL


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