Lessons From A Lesson
I haven’t yet established Jumping Friday posts. I’ve gotten as far as Falcon Hill Fridays. At least I’m going to the place that has the jumps. Turtle steps.
I’ve forgotten how to canter fast. Saddlebreds go in a slow, collected, teacup canter. Sam has an excellent one. If they don’t canter this way, they are supposed to. Slow is the goal. The last time I cantered at a decent pace was probably when Roberto and I ran around the show ring at ProAm.
Saddle seat judges expect a horse to execute a contained, dynamic canter, not to gallop flat out as if making up time during the run-in after the last jump on cross-country. [Show Report]
In the FHF lesson, we cantered several times (go me!). It was too slow. Coach Molly said Milton looked as if he was about drop back into the trot. Milton is a Work Smarter, Not Harder kind of horse. If I don’t specify, he will gravitate to the lowest use of energy. I didn’t need to do anything more complicated that just plain let him go faster.
I asked him to canter on. No problem.
Didn’t do as well here.
I have a bad habit of floating the reins at the horse, especially if I am trying achieve acceleration. Drop the reins, kick hard, and say Go Horsie! All this does is allow the horse to flop around on the forehand. If you want the horse to use his ass end, you have to pick up the snoot and request that he do so.
I know this. I can’t feel this. Instead, I feel that if I put the slightest pressure on the reins, the horse will dump even the tiny amount of momentum we have collected.
After several uninspired run-thoughs (runs-though?) of my dressage patterns, my ground crew suggested that I actually shorten my reins and take hold of Milton’s mouth. I knew it wouldn’t work. Determined to prove them wrong, I did this thing. Milton didn’t grind to a halt. Surprise.
Instead, Milton stuck his nose up in the air and said, ‘Ooooooh, that sounds like work.’ I made the mistake of getting frustrated because now it wasn’t working in a different way. Every so often, the nose would come down and he’d say okay and we would get a step or two of something that resembled a correct horse. Then we’d turn a corner and lose it again. Half a dozen good strides in a 2-3 minute dressage test. That’s not a bad place to start.
What did I expect from a green horse? One who is also a drama queen?
I need to dial my expectations way down so that I am rewarding every small effort Milton makes.
I need to dial up my belief in what I am asking. If the horse does not do X correctly and immediately, that does not automatically mean that you, the rider, asked for the wrong thing. Maybe he’s learning. Maybe it will take him a minute. Maybe I need to smile and wait for my horse to sort it out.
Thank you for reading,