Saturday, July 28, 2007

First Dressage Lesson

Today was Brego's first dressage lesson. The lesson was even more special because it also happened to by my first dressage lesson as well. Talk about the blind leading the blind! I have to say, that although jumping gets the heart pumping, dressage (even my pathetic attempt at it) is pure fun. I was really impressed with what little I knew, but then once I got the hang of it, how well Brego responded.

It's like this whole time we've been together, we've been speaking with a 20 word vocabulary. It's pretty hard to build a partnership with speech like "Me fast go. You turn right." My first lesson today at least doubled my vocabulary and it turns out that Brego had been waiting for me to learn the correct words all this time.

It was very fun to get such a positive response out of Brego, but it was also very hard work! Twenty-six years of riding tends to give you some bad habits, you ride almost reflexively and lose awareness. I had to really focus on my hands and if I lost concentration, my outside hand would drop, rotate in and go soft. I also nag Brego with my legs to keep him going. We spent considerable time just teaching him that when I say move off my leg, I mean it the first time, not the fifth. He was slowly catching on.

Not surprisingly, I am very one-sided which makes Brego very one-sided. I am weak to the left and drop my shoulders. When I focused on tensioning my right abs, I stayed straighter and amazingly, just like that, Brego was able to balance through a left turn. It's hard to describe to someone who doesn't know horses that the effect of me using my right abs caused a 1400 lb animal to suddenly right himself. But it's true, and I am still reeling at the discovery.

Other things I learned were to ask for him to bend around my inside leg, something he was very resistant to. I had to "play" with my inside hand to ask for his nose to come in, while simultaneously tapping with my inside leg to pick him up. Oh, and don't forget my strong outside hand, I've got to support him. Lots to think about all at once, but when I managed it, I was rewarded with two or three steps of the most lovely, honest trot. And that is how greatness gets started, I think.

The good news is that as a duo we are not hopeless. My very patient instructor was pretty impressed with Brego, even when I dropped him at the trot. She said he had a very "elastic" trot and he was a nice mover. High praise from someone with her own gorgeous Fourth level warmblood. She also said I was a good rider and I was good enough to train him to do what I wanted. All I need is some guidance and self control!

I told her that I am shooting for a schooling event at the end of September in which Brego will make his Beginner Novice debut. The Beginner Novice dressage tests are all pretty basic walk/trot/canter, but he will need to canter a 20m circle. She understood immediately the challenge we have ahead of us, but seems to think it's doable. I just need to work really hard between lessons to retrain both Brego and myself to speak a new language. I am very excited and can't wait to get started.

(I promise to have pictures of our next lesson!)

1 comment:

Ligeda said...

yes, pictures please.