Saturday, February 23, 2013

Perfect Practice

With the ever impeding spring season, I made the decision to get back into the saddle for some quality educating.

The first lesson was with Roddy Strang - equine extraordinaire. This was one of Rose's first lessons back from a devastating kick in Aiken that left her with a fractured hind leg and lengthy recovery. My past with this mare includes jet-planes full of baggage, but her talent keeps me investing like an addict. It is a tough pill to swallow, but our issues are as much a reflection of ourselves as they are the horse. This mare has been steadily improving since her rehab started, but she developed a severe detachment disorder from the alpha-mare (coincidentally the one that kicked her)(#redheadsneverlearn). For my lesson with Roddy he stressed the importance of created a positive experience every ride and including frequent breaks where you rub, pat, adore and generally spoil the horse. He suggested that I strive to create the relationship and fascination Rose has with the Big Mare with myself. This manifested during our lesson as follows. Ride Rose on lose rein. When I feel her polarize toward the other mare I go with her in that direction but energize the movement and create more work all the way to the mare at which point we may circle around the mare. Then when Rose has the inkling to look away you ride that and ask (or in my case hope and pray) for a hands free whoa. Followed with more spoiling. Roddy also stressed the importance of riding "skeletal" (with you pelvis and torso, free of legs and arms) to center your aids off of your seat and torso. It was an extremely interesting lesson.

I recently had a lesson with Kate Hicks on Hope. I have been searching for someone to fill the void since Molly went South for the winter. After some researching I came across Kate's Burghley and Rolex rides and I was hooked and completely envious of her ability to package her horse so well. It is the one thing I truely lack with Hope and it shows when she makes hollow and rushed moves at fences and with our 45+ dressage scores. The lesson started with an extensive flat warm-up (already fearing what an actual flat lesson will include!) where we addressed my hands and when it was appropriate to relax into a rewarding BUT forward ride. Kate is a stickler about the quality of canter and I spent more time circleing before fence than I did jumping, but the result was nearly effortless combinations. Single fences were another story, but Rome wasn't built in a day!

I also took Hope and Grace to a jumper schooling show last week. I entered both in a 2'9"/3'/3'3" jump-off class. The result was six clean rounds and subsequently six clean jump-off rounds! Not to shabby.

For the time being I have been ruthless in addressing and completing disciplined rides that focus on keeing my eyes and inside shoulder up, keeping my inside hand and belly button foward and my leg under me in a more balanced approach.

Big week of lessons ahead. Cheers to some video footage in the near future!

Worth the Trust Scholarship - 2880.00 - 75.00 (Roddy Strang) - 60.00 (Kate Hicks) = 2745.00