Lessons learned

I’ve had quite a few good lessons with Oh So in the last couple of weeks that I feel have really moved us forward.

Last weekend, I did a clinic with Debbie Bowman. We drove over to my dressage trainer Nicky’s house in King George County and rode first at 9am. It was quite cold and there was a lot of activity going on in her neighborhood, so Oh So was definitely up. In fact, I couldn’t get him to go in one end of her ring without a huge spook! He’s never acted like that in his life with me, so it was unexpected and unfortunate, but we managed to keep his attention long enough to get some work done. I told her I have trouble getting him in the left rein, so she suggested we do the really basic exercise of walk/trot transitions on the long side. I honestly haven’t really schooled those in depth on my own, but it worked. He actually became pretty even in both my reins and was obedient. I just had to keep him straighter when going left because he tended to try to pop his right shoulder out.

Next up was a lesson with Heidi Berry. I had missed my lesson with her to week prior because of a pulled shoe, but we made it up on Monday. It’s a 60 mile/1.5 hour hike to her place, but we both get a lot out of her lessons, so I’m going to try to get up there every other week or so this winter. We worked a lot on transitions from canter to trot on the diagonal. He tends to not be obedient and/or tighten his back when we get back to trot, so first we did some transitions on circles, then we just cantered around the ring on the longsides to get him straight and supple. When we tried the downwards transitions again on the diagonal, they were much better and he was nice and even in my contact. The sitting trot was good too and she had no complaints.

The last few jumps lessons I’ve had have focused on back to basics. We’ve only jumped a few jumps at training level height. My lesson on Thursday was a bit frustrating. He got uptight because a race horse was galloping on the track at Morningside. After we had our turn to gallop, we brought him back to the ring and just cantered over poles and cross rails. The problem was, he just wanted to burst over the small jumps. Lisa said we have to insist that he keep the same easy canter over poles, cross rails or jumps, no matter the height. The other problem is that when the jumps are small, I tend to look for a spot, so that’s something I need to work on. I also felt that he was getting more and more worked up the more I held him back over the smaller jumps. We might continue this tomorrow in my lesson, but we’ll be at an arena with a lot less atmosphere, so I’m hoping we’ll be more successful. I think half the challenge of riding at Morningside is that there’s so much for him to get distracted by.

Other than that, I’ve been job searching and riding Sam. I took him to Morningside yesterday since he hasn’t been out in a few months. He was pretty civil until we got to the top of the cross country hill. He heard the windmill making noise in the wind and got pretty spooky. I jumped over a few small things and he went pretty off on his right hind. He gets so excited to go cantering on the cross country course that I think I asked him to do too much. I’ve been using Back On Track hock boots with some success, so I gave him today off and some bute and I’ll see how he feels tomorrow.

That’s all for now! I posted some photos that my dad took of Oh So and I schooling this morning. It’s really educational for me to see my habits (like jamming my left heel down and not closing my fingers on my left hand).

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