This is not an exciting or insightful or funny or filled with pictures kind of post. I hope to have more of those next week! Instead, this is a post about my lesson for me.
Majority of my lessons are small group jumping lessons, which makes sense since Simon and I are jumpers. However, I’ve recently become pretty addicted to flat work. My horse gets more and more schooled and I keep finding these new gears and buttons. A good hack day feels like I have an equitation horse and am doing medal tests… at least that’s what I tell myself to keep things interesting. There’s also the ‘D’ word that I haven’t totally given up on yet.
So every few months I try to get a flat private with my trainer. Even though she’s a hunter/jumper trainer, I find her flatwork foundation really good and enjoy the lessons a lot.
This week, I wanted to work on long and low/stretchy trot and lateral work at the trot. Since flat lessons are super rivoting (especially when you’re reading about one as opposed to riding in one) I will just list out the bullet points of my take aways.
- I need to start with more of a purposeful walk. Simon has a pretty good natural, marching walk but I need to still reinforce with leg with every step. That way he gets used to my leg early on in the ride and doesn’t think leg = leaping forward.
- Before I encourage him to stretch down at the trot, I need to do it at the walk. This is with longer reins but steady contact. Reward him stretching by following with my hands a little bit.
- What I thought was a decent forward trot is about 60% of what I need. He’s barely stepping into his hoof print, and to get him engaging from behind I need to ask for more trot with my leg… but not speed.
- Keep my outside hand steadier. Give and take on the inside hand with contact, but not the outside one.
- In circles and lateral work, I need to open my outside hand more (especially going left). I tend to want to ride with my wrists very close together, but they need to move more independently.
- Opening my outside hand does not mean throwing away my contact.
- When Simon gets anxious or wants to rush, circle him and don’t ask for anything with his head. Just loosen my contact a bit and circle with a slow post. He immediately settles down and then I can get back to what we were doing.
- If we are struggling at trot lateral work, make sure I end by walking and taking a few lateral steps… that way he connects the concepts better
- If he’s leaning and not actually stepping over in the trot, I am probably throwing away the front end with my hands.
- At the canter we’re not ready for anything too fancy, but I need to work on holding my right wrist more outside to my hip so my hands can work independently.
Super boring, but super educational. Flatwork may not be Simon’s favorite thing in the world, but he sure has improved leaps and bounds in a year. Maybe we’ll make this thing official one day at a show… but for now I’m having fun seeing how rideable I can get him.