After the lessons were done for the day, everyone bedded their horses down for the evening and then met up at a local sushi restaurant for dinner. Each time I participate in this clinic, I look forward to dinner. I don't know that all clinicians are as social and funny as Christian is, but getting to share a glass of wine with him and hear about his life as an international judge and trainer really helps to build a relationship. Knowing him outside of the ring makes what happens inside the ring a lot more interactive.
My lesson on Sunday was in the morning. I was glad for this as I would be able to leave and head for home whenever I was ready. As it worked out, I ended up staying until late afternoon so that I could watch my pal, Sarah (of Eventing in Color fame), ride. She also rides an OTTB so it was great to see how Christian helped her deal with Hemie's tension.
Mostly, he just trotted around looking for a soft spot to roll. When I was ready to continue some in hand work up in the arena, he gave me a sassy flip of his hind end when I asked him to come over. I shook the lead rope at him and did some quick changes of directions, which were obviously too much work for a Sunday morning. Sydney stopped and turned to face me with a much more submissive attitude.
I realized that I was feeling some pressure to be better than we were on Saturday. I felt as though everyone, including Christian, was expecting me to just get it already. Once I recognized from where my anxiety was coming, I was able to joke about it a little bit and let it start to dissipate. Because really, who would expect me to better over-night?
I saddled up and moved into the arena. I told Christian that I was anxious, and he just laughed it off and told me to track right immediately. What? was my response. I was really hoping to warm up in our easier direction, especially since I was clearly feeling anxious and needed to settle my nerves. Christian's response was that his job wasn't to make me feel comfortable at the beginning of a ride, but rather at the end, SO TRACK RIGHT!
Oy vey. So we tracked right.
I can't say this enough: Christian is a rock star instructor. Knowing how I was feeling, he had me head immediately toward C at a walk. We were going to avoid the A end of the arena. We started by leg yielding from the quarter line to H followed by a leg yield to C followed by a leg yield from the next quarter line; all at a walk.
My tension from the last hour disappeared completely as I realized that for the first time, I was actually schooling real exercises in an arena that wasn't our home field. I started to relax. About that time, Christian asked for a trot while doing the same leg yield pattern. Sydney began to barrel through my aids again.
I wasn't able to hold his rhythm with my seat, so he picked up speed until we were pretty much just careening around. Christian didn't give the melodramatic sigh of frustration that I felt as I pulled Sydney back down to a walk, but when Christian asked what had happened, I replied that I didn't have any control. But he's not running off right now, which means you have enough control, start again at a very slow jog, came his reply. And so we did.
Somehow that little reprimand reminded me of how much outside rein I was allowed to use to to help Sydney balance. From that moment, I felt confident in holding all the weight I needed to while moving that inside hind leg over. We were finally leg yielding!
As you leg yield to the left (for example), the horse is bent right as you track from F to H (black line, yellow bend). As you go through the corner at H, you have to start preparing to change the bend at M so that you can now leg yield from M to K (red line, green bend). You also have to change your posting diagonal.
VCC of CDS is already trying to schedule Christian's next visit. I am so excited about it already as I know we'll be prepared to learn even more exercises. This week's rides have already been unbelievable. Imagine how I'll feel after 13, 14, 15, … 20 lessons with Christian Schacht!
And that's it … mostly. We're heading to the cabin for the weekend, again, so I'll see you all on Monday!