Thursday, 25 October 2007

Surprise Lesson

I ended up having a lesson today, which was really useful! I am rather short of funds at the moment, but a friend offered to lend me the money, and since my instructor was around, I decided to go for it. It was such a good thing to do!

Last time I had a lesson I had a real breakthrough with my hands in the walk. Today, we had another revelation. I love lessons like that, where you suddenly think 'Of course! That's what I wasn't doing!' The breakthrough today was with the leg yielding, as this is what we have been practising since our last lesson. When John arrived I said that I thought she had been going better on the right rein recently, and that the better rein keeps switching. After watching us for a few minutes, he begged to differ. He asked me why I thought she didn't feel as good on the left and I explained that it was because she was heavier in my left hand. He then pointed out that with a young horse, you want the horse to go forward into the contact. The fact that she is heavier in my left hand means that she is not taking the contact forward enough to the right and not moving off my right leg properly. This all makes lots of sense, but I hadn't really thought about it like that.

When we started leg-yielding he explained that I was shifting my weight to the wrong side. When I wanted to leg yield to the right I was putting my weight to the right. I think I thought I was helping to show her which direction to go in. Evidently I was doing the opposite and preventing her from moving across. I really don't know why I thought this was the right thing to do - when she falls in on her right shoulder, I put my weight to the right and that pushes her weight across to the left. I KNOW this, so I have no idea why I thought that putting my weight to the right would make her go right in the leg-yielding - it doesn't make sense!

John also explained that while it helps mentally to leg-yield in walk for a bit first, as soon as the horse has some idea of going sideways, it is far better to ask for the exercise in trot. Apparently the moment of suspension in trot gives the horse time to physically move its legs across, whereas they can become tangled in walk. I was a little sceptical of this to begin with, as when I have tried it in trot, she just rushes. He watched me have a go once, then the next time I turned up the three-quarter line, he told me to make a transition to walk, while still asking for the sideways movement. Suddenly, she moved properly sideways. She was fairly strong in my hand, but we actually moved to the right correctly. It seems that when he just said to 'slow down' I wasn't able to control the forward movement from my leg. If I actually asked for the transition while applying the leg, it made it very clear to her that my leg meant sideways, not forwards.

We did this a few times on each rein, really working on using my inside leg on the turn to get the sideways movement started. As well as producing some excellent leg-yielding, the contact she was giving me was fantastic. She was really stretching into the bridle on both sides and I felt like she was really swinging. It just proves to me how valuable lessons are - even when we are only covering the basics. I feel like we are making such great progress and I love the fact that each lesson is a little revelation in itself. I go away thinking very hard, as you can probably tell from my babble here!


Barokko said...

Definitely have to try the transition while asking him to move over thing tomorrow! Barokko moves off the leg well in both walk and trot, I can get travers, renvers, SI etc pretty effortlessly from him (he doesn't have the strength yet to carry it for very long at a time, but he responds correctly to the aids). But specifically the LY in trot has been a bit bothersome for us, he rushes through my half-halts and then doesn't yield properly. Can't wait to work on it tomorrow with a new exercize!

Echo said...

Glad to be of some help - I think it was useful for both of us, as I was really thinking 'slow down' and she realised that my leg didn't mean shoot forwards. This is our Echo's first experience of anything lateral, so we will hopefully be able to move on from here. Good luck with the exercise!!

Wiola said...

I was also told once that young horses often 'think' that inside leg is for a canter transition and so it is useful to give very different leg aid for both i.e. more static squeeze for a canter and a loose 'tap-tap' for a lateral movement.
The exercise you did sounds good, I am going to try it as well on one rushy Connemara:)

Daily adventures while training my young horse.