Monday, November 11, 2013

Lesson with Katy: 5

My lesson on Sunday was very encouraging. After the last lesson, I felt like I was going to be fighting my position forever and Winston and I would never get anywhere.  Winston needs to learn how to carry himself in balance, how to use his hind end to propel us forward, and how to stretch around my leg.

I'm still working on my position, of course. I did some twists and turns with my shoulders to work out the kinks while Winston marched around on a long rein.

We started with getting Winston to stretch his outside.  It is similar to a yoga exercise.  Stand tall, raise your hands over your head and stretch up through your body.  Then bend to one side, while still keeping the feeling of stretching.  Feel the stretch along your side -- your outside bend?  You don't get there by turning your head or collapsing at the waist.  You get there by stretching.  Same concept.  Without using the reins to turn Winston's head, I pressed his side with my calf asking him to stretch around.
I don't think we are on the same page here. I'm looking right, he's looking left.

We used the bow-tie pattern from my last lesson again. But we were so much better. Winston is starting to understand that when I press my inside leg against his side, he is supposed to bend his body (not his neck) and reach under with his hind leg.  Getting his hind leg to step under his middle was key.

I had the inside rein wide open giving him room to bend in.  The whip was ready to give him a wee tap behind my leg "skootch on over, big boy"

Once he understood the concept, I picked up more contact with the reins and worked some more.  If you pick up the contact too early, the horse will lean on the bit and fall forward.  He has to carry himself, balanced, and then you can pick up the reins and have a conversation.  You don't want to hold a runaway train in your hands.  You want effortless, vibrating energy.

Eventually, he was light in my hands, he was carrying himself, -- and my inside leg felt like it was going to fall off from pressing, pressing, pressing.  Winston's walk was gorgeous, nicely bent, reaching under, supple.

He couldn't do it at trot. His head was high and bend was more difficult; although he did try. I've turned into a weekend rider with my work schedule so he just isn't fit enough to do more.  Katy is going to ride him one day during the week, when she comes over to give Vanessa a lesson. If I can ride him Saturday and Sunday that will give him three training sessions.

Back to work, Mr. Winston!

Brett and Mufasa continue to work on getting Mufasa to relax and give. They are also making good progress. Mufasa has nailed halt; Brett doesn't use the reins at all; he sits deep and bam! Mufasa stops square.

Mufasa is a bit off or unbalanced at the trot. He doesn't appear lame or uncomfortable, but he is definitely uneven. We have an appointment with the vet next weekend for vaccinations so we'll have it checked out then.

Mufasa is learning to relax and move in a nice frame.  You can't see it, but he's licking and chewing as he walks along.

Brett had Mufasa's shoes pulled on his hind hooves last time the farrier was out. We wonder if his feet aren't happy being bare although they are nice and hard and Mufasa is sound at liberty. The farrier was out today to trim the horses and he didn't recommend putting shoes on Mufasa at this point.

The shadows were long when they finished.  The donkeys were braying, the goats were protesting, and the air had a definite chill.  We finished the evening chores in the dark.


  1. You two are sticking with it and getting better all the time. That ring is as fine as any I've seen!

  2. you guys are all making headway - and have the perfect place and great trainer for it. :)

  3. What a great lesson! You all are doing such a good job. :D

  4. What a gorgeous place you have. And practice makes perfect, they say. I appreciate all the patience this takes and it's so good to hear you are making progress.

  5. Such a science this is! Love the "effortless vibrating energy".

  6. Looking good - and the best thing is, everyone is willing!!!

    Hey, have you ever read up on Sally Swift? Shes gone now, but she really made the waves in the Dressage world back in the 80's, with "centered riding"

    If you havent read her, i strongly recommend you do - sounds like Katy uses some of her principles in her lessons. I had the opportunity to go to one of her clinics back in the 80's and WOW...even with a bum leg today i still have a decent seat...

    anyhow, love your lesson pictures!

  7. Oh I'm so envious of your beautiful dressage arena.
    If there was a green smiley face, I would post it here.

    Sounds like you are making steady progress even though it's hard in winter when the light goes so early.


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