How did we get here? You know, relaxed, quiet, and soft. The answer? JL is a good trainer, and I often marvel at her plan. I don't know what the plan is, but there must be one because each week she gives us just enough to get the job done without overwhelming me. I come back the next week, with a frustration of course, and there she is ready with the answer.
Here's a little of what she has taught us in the last few months:
- The horse must maintain the rhythm. With Speedy G, that means leg, LEG, LEG + whip. With Sydney, that means 1 ... 2 ... Let ... Go. I will not hold you back, Dude. Hold your own pace.
- The horse must bend his neck. Speedy bends, too much and too easily. We need to work more on straightness. Sydney however, needed to learn that yes, Dude, you can bend your neck. That meant lots of bend, bend, bend without the bolting to the side. It also meant lots of inside leg to outside rein. He needed to learn that he can "bend" around my leg without leaning on it.
- The horse must reach for the bit. For Speedy, that meant lots of leg with hands that say NO! to a popped up nose. We're still working on that, but he's learning it's easier to reach for the bit than push against it. For Sydney, that meant the leg isn't a scream to GO. Leg can mean s-t-r-e-t-c-h, especially when it goes with a sliding rein. Sydney has worried that hands are going to HOLD HIM AND NOT LET GO. Not anymore.
- The horse must move sideways away from the rider's leg. That one was easy for Speedy. Imagine a bowl of piping hot spaghetti noodles. Imagine trying to move those noodles in a straight line. That's Speedy. He is very bendy and actually needs to work on straightness. Sydney on the other hand is stiff as a board. With the idea of inside leg to outside rein in place, JL has helped me be able to move Sydney away from my leg.
So for now ... FINALLY .... both my horses have learned to maintain the rhythm (mostly), be flexible in their necks (mostly), reach for the bit (mostly), and move away from my leg (one better than the other). With those elements in place, we can finally start moving up the dressage levels. Even if it is just from Intro to Training!