In the last few days, I have had the best rides on Duke in months. We had gotten to a point where we were stuck, unmotivated and I was honestly confused about how to move forward.
Then I went to audit an Allison Springer clinic and it was awesome. It totally transformed our success in riding. And the best part is, nothing she said was earth-shattering. It was just plain good riding with a few different tools to add to the box.
Leg, Seat, Hand
I mean, I knew that I was supposed to ride leg to seat to hand but it was a great reminder, and Allison repeated this a lot. Duke responds well to it, which is super. I, however, often fall victim to the very human tendency to snatch with my hands. When I don’t, things go better.
I had a dressage lesson last night, and Trainer B brought back from the clinic the idea of a working turn on the forehand. We got Duke to step up and under with his inside hind, and through with his outside hind. This then translated into smoother leg yields and a softer neck, with wonderful connection.
We solved the problem of the Mysterious Disappearing Left Bend which has been plaguing us since September, and the new trick where Duke pops his shoulders to the inside while simply walking a straight line. And I even got him to canter in a beautiful, uphill manner, without going with his hip to the inside.
In Trainer B’s words at the end of the lesson, “You had a lot of really brilliant moments!”
And it was true. It was maybe the best dressage ride I’ve ever had. I could actually push my hands toward the bit, and Duke was carrying himself in the connection. He was supple, he was forward, he was powerful. It felt like magic.
When it all goes right, dressage is so fun.