I know that this past weekend's lessons won't be the only ones I get this fall, but they were a great start. I told Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, that there were three things I needed to work on with Speedy.
The first was simply getting him sharper off my aids. We finished our show season winning the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition at Second Level. Since then, I've gone back to work, and I now have to ride in the late afternoon heat. Neither Speedy nor I really wanted to work hard at anything. We've been kind of coasting along. Now that the weather is cooling off, we need to get back into race trim.
The second thing I wanted to work on was the half pass at trot, but as it turned out, Chemaine had us working on half pass at both the trot and canter, something we had yet to start. Apparently, I've been practicing the trot half pass mostly correctly. All I really needed to do was look at a point before the corner so that my half pass went at more of an angle. They're still very rudimentary, but we have the idea down.
The canter half passes were barely even half passes. The main trouble was Speedy was convinced I was going to ask for a flying change. It took a while for him to figure out what I was doing; me, too for that matter. In the end, we got a few strides where he and I started to get it. My big take away from that part of the lesson was that I need a whole lot of bend before I can even think about asking for his hind end to step over. We'll get there.
The final thing I wanted to work on was the flying change - of course. Right to left we have down. I can get it the first time pretty much every time. The only thing I really need to work on is asking for it sooner and sooner with less drama. Here's video of the first time I asked. His change is so quiet that you'll barely see it, if at all.
Left to right is a different story. As I worked on them by myself over the past few weeks, I figured out that I needed to ride it differently than when asking for a change from right to left. The main problem is that he's falling in on the right shoulder which means he can't change. It kind of looks like this ...
Chemaine helped me fix a slue of little issues before I asked for the change. The first was that he kept trying to bolt as I changed the bend. To fix that, Chemaine had me keep on cantering as though all I really wanted was a counter canter.
When he refused to soften to the inside rein, I just kept cantering without asking for the change. Eventually, I got a change in front, and later a change in back. To get it all to work, I needed Speedy to get soft on the inside rein, AND I needed a strong half halt to get the change behind. Here's where the pieces finally came together, albeit a bit disjointed.
In the end, I was able to put it all together and get the change, even if it wasn't as prompt as I would have liked. As soon as I came out of the corner, I changed the bend and started half halting, reminding him to be soft on the inside. The outside rein said no bolting, the inside rein said stay soft, and my seat said change. It took a big outside rein, but he finally got it.
That magical moment ...