As per usual, riding horses is really good at making me think I figured something out and then laughing in my face about it.
As I explained in my last post, Duke likes to get hollow in his back and go around in a pretend long and low frame. This becomes extra apparent in downward transitions. If he’s not using his back and hind properly in the trot, he pops up his head and neck and inverts.
So I was all proud of myself for doing 10,349,329 transitions and working through this, and getting good quality trot work without dinosaur neck. We were getting pretty consistent in our trot-walk transitions, having a quality trot into a walk without becoming a llama.
Then we had a dressage lesson.
I was going around doing my warm up transitions and what I thought was pretty good got a “I didn’t like that downward transition, he just kind of fell into the walk.”
Son of a-
So we did a bunch more transitions where I tried to feel him using his back, not just being a sneaky sneaker and tricking me into thinking he was doing correct work. Sometimes his head and neck do come up but it’s more of a lift than a llama.
In the same lesson I also found out that I’ve been asking for shoulders in wrong, um, forever. At moments like these, I stop and think about it, and I wonder if anyone ever actually taught me to do stuff like shoulders in properly. I had a similar moment recently about half halts. Half halts. You know, just like one of the most important tools a rider should have. And then I thank my lucky stars that I found Trainer B because she explains things so well, even when I come up with concerning questions like, “hey, um, can you explain exactly how to do a half halt like physically what should my body be doing?”
Olivia recently posted this:
Learning how to ride is kinda hard.
Learning how to ride WELL is super freakin’ hard.
Learning how to ride in a way that shows nuance and expertise is EXPONENTIALLY HARDER THAN ALL OF THAT.
It’s so accurate. I think learning comes in spurts. I happen to be in a learning growth spurt. Sometimes that makes me feel like I am a not-very-good rider but that’s not true. I’m just learning to ride well or maybe even in a way that shows nuance and expertise. That makes even the smallest things – like a trot-walk transition or a half halt – seem harder and more complex because I want to do them well, with nuance. Maybe I was taught to do shoulders in but I now have a little more expertise so I can do them better and more accurately. Maybe my half halts were okay but I’m developing and now I need not one but several versions to accomplish different things.
This is the one benefit of our long winter season here in the Great White North (YES THERE’S ONLY ONE). We get months and months to work on technique and fine tuning. It’s not always the most fun to ride in the indoor arena for 6 months straight, but boy does it give us a lot of time to better ourselves as riders. I can’t wait to see how it all pays off when spring and summer arrive!