Today I had a lesson with Jane. It was...interesting. She is happy with the saddle and it does seem to fit well, although I now no longer have any idea whether saddles fit or not. I lunged Echo for five minutes before the lesson and she was great - no crazy galloping or anything. When Jane arrived, I tacked up and got on.
As I said yesterday, she has been starting to overbend in trot and she's never done this before. It's only been in the last couple of weeks that she's done it. It ties in with the Bowen lady saying she was really tight around her withers.
I am finding it hard to know what to say about the lesson. She trained with Phillippe Karl and I have only a limited knowledge of what he does. She was getting me to lift Echo's head up, then ask her to flex, so that her head carriage was much higher. I'm not totally convinced by this, although it did seem to combat some of the overbending problems. I did find it made her a bit stuffy in her wither area though, as if she was finding it harder to walk. She said not to worry about the angle of her head too much - we just want to get her neck coming out of her shoulders at a better angle.
In walk, this was ok - we did lots of halt transitions, and they did get better and lighter in front. However, in trot, the overbending got worse and worse. She had us racing around at a great speed, trying to lift her head up, so that she could bring her hindlegs more under her...but it didn't really work like that. I felt like I had nothing in my hands at all - I just couldn't get her to stretch forward at all. Towards the end it got a bit better and my hands were nearly at her ears, but it didn't feel like it used to.
I can't work out what it is that made me not enjoy the lesson. Echo has gone much much better in the past and I didn't really agree with her method. She also kept telling me that the reason she is so overbent is because of the way she has been trained, from the hand first. If you've read this blog before, you'll know that I have trained her myself and I really don't hold the front in. There is a lot to improve in my riding, but she was going really well before her year off, so I can't really accept that. She was talking to me as if I didn't know that a horse needs to work through from behind...which was a bit odd.
In addition, she charged nearly twice what I was expecting (moral of the story - always ask how much a lesson will be before booking it!) and I could have had a lesson with Carl Hester for that price! But the saddle is good. I think. But then when I said I wanted to buy it but would have to sell my saddle first, she got a bit funny. She said she knows someone who might like it, but she would sell it for £50 less than the one I am buying, and then she'll take 20% commission. When I said I would rather sell it myself on ebay, as I can't afford that, she said she wouldn't let me borrow the one that fits unless she sells my saddle for me. I was really shocked - she's got me in a really difficult position, because I really want this saddle and want to be able to keep the work going now, so I need to hang on to it. So I have to let her sell it, and pay over £100 that I don't have.
I feel really disappointed. Not only was it a bit of a rubbish lesson that cost me a fortune, it's going to cost me loads to get the saddle.
Right - here are the photos and video. The video isn't great, as the camera goes out of focus when it zooms in and out and you can hear the zoom mechanism working...but hopefully it will illustrate some of our issues.
This was in walk near the beginning:
This one shows (rather exaggerated) the overbending problem!
Nothing on the end of my reins!!
This isn't too bad, but it was quite near the beginning of the lesson. Am struggling to upload videos so for now, click on this link: