Before I share my clinic experience, here's a horrible photo showing Speedy's naughtiness at the canter transition, Edyta, the photographer, jokingly referred to it as a capriole (if you check out the link, scroll down to the photo at the bottom of the page. It is so Speedy!)!
So what did we work on? I didn't take notes, and I was a bit star struck, especially since I had an audience, so my recollect isn't as sharp as it normally is after a lesson. But these are the things that really struck me as important.
- My hands need a lot of work. The good thing is that Peggy didn't mention my elbows at all. Whew! Those are finally staying bent. The trouble now is that my wrist are "broken". Instead of half-halting from the shoulder blade, I tend to do it with my wrist. Yuck ... ineffective ... unattractive. Peggy got after me a lot about that. In order to keep my elbows bent, JL has me ride with my forearms at my side and my elbows at a ninety degree angle. This of course raises your hands up. Peggy kept insisting that I lower my hands down to the fleece of my pad. Every time my hand, normally the right, came up, she'd firmly yell, lower your hand! Homework: practice, practice, practice keeping my wrists straight and my hands lowered, especially the right, while maintaining the bend in my elbows.
- Peggy was great about drawing analogies from my previous experience. When she found out that I had been an endurance rider, she started using the trail as an example. When she first asked me to pick up the trot, she quickly hollered out, could you finish a hundred miles at that pace? Uh ... no, I couldn't. Then move it! I pictured a wide open trail and put my leg on. For the rest of the ride, Peggy referenced the trail - keep him off the cliff edge, trot through that puddle, power up the hill! All of these analogies helped me get the right feel for what she was asking. Homework: Speedy G needs to be forward, but not running, and I tend to let him get lazy, so picture moving down the trail.
- Power up the hill was the perfect analogy for the corners. I have been riding them too shallow, which is permitted at Introductory Level, but is not a point earner as you move up the levels. The reason we go through the corner so shallow is that it requires the inside leg to come under the body and carry a lot of weight. Speedy is a bit lazy and hasn't been gung-ho about carrying his weight and mine. Peggy had me ride through the corner with energy while applying my inside leg. This was a challenge for me as I have been using my inside rein to bend him through the corners. This doesn't work however. The harder I pull his head to the inside, the more his hind end pops out and the less his ribcage does what it's supposed to. Peggy had me think about a steering wheel as we entered the corner - turn the wheel AND add leg. When Speedy ignored my leg, she had me whack him and MOVE HIM OVER. A few whacks later and we were riding those corners deeper than we ever have. Homework: stop pulling with the inside rein (especially the right one), insist he move away from my leg, and remember to steer his nose in the direction we're going (no looking around).
Whew! This is a lot, I know. I am sure there was more to the lesson, but these were the points I was able to remember. One of the most gratifying parts of the day was how much Peggy boosted my self-confidence. Within just a few minutes of working, Peggy enthusiastically shouted out, this girl can ride! Give me a good rider, and I can teach! I was a bit embarrassed, but it was nice to hear a compliment from someone so far up the food chain. I was told that at the clinic the following day, Peggy was heard "bragging about my good ride."
Wow! Pretty nice compliment.