I’ve been trying to push our flatwork up to the next level for a few reasons. First, let me give you a brief synopsis of how I usually hack my horse.
Wow you’re lazy today. Well, lazy means I’m not getting run away with! I can do lazy… I’ll call it “long and low”. Well we’ve done a few laps now, I should do circles or leg yields or something. That was moderately successful. Those hard hard. Let’s canter! Two circles at the canter and… we’re done.
Honestly I used to put a lot more into Simon’s flatwork when he was straight up green and not getting training rides, but overall I haven’t been giving it my all lately. Now that I’ve decided to really work to make Simon’s back end stronger to help these issues, I’ve realized that I need to step it up with our flatwork. Our goals now are…
- Relaxed through shoulder/neck/back
With that in mind, I
asked begged my husband to come out and take some pictures of us this weekend. Saturday I felt like I had a fantastic unicorn like creature. Sunday (lesson and picture day) it wasn’t as good, but there were still good moments and as always pictures are an exceptional learning tool.
Starting out in a ride, Simon’s normal has good rhythm and is usually pretty relaxed. He lives in a “slightly above the vertical land” and will poke along pretty happily.
Lately I give him a lap or two of that, and then I ask for more forward.
Once that rhythm is going, I work on some collection. Typically I’m a “ride to the outside rein” kind of person but sometimes if he’s being fussy I have to “pretend my hands are side reins” and push him into contact. Either way, it’s getting much better.
Looking at these photos, I immediately realize his head isn’t as “set” as I’d like it to be and omg I’m so hunchy. Must sit up more!
Sometimes we lose the connection entirely. He gets anxious, gets above the vertical and chews at the bit or occasionally tosses his head. I usually don’t lose him completely, but our impulsion dies and the whole thing looks tense and gross.
The above picture is a good example of one of my bad habits – riding for a headset instead of the entire picture. You can easily see a multitude of things going wrong here.
On the flip side, sometimes we’re chill as a cucumber but we lose all connection and he wants to dive his shoulder and get quick.
It’s getting better though all around. I’m sure dressage queens would tell me a multitude of things I’m doing wrong (and I wouldn’t argue) but this is a big improvement for us.
Overall, I think it’s coming together. Room for improvement, but isn’t that always the case?
And spoiler alert… there is an additional reason besides hind end strength for all this work, but that’s a topic for a different day!