Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dressage Lesson 7

Brego and I went back into training today, hard core. We took a very intense dressage lesson and worked on lateral leg aids and refining his responses. Let me preface this by saying that I did ask several times if the exercises were a little advanced for a training level horse (and rider). My instructor felt we were up for it, even if it was just a shadow of the more advanced movements, because it taught us both to respect leg aids.

The main exercise we worked on was: Coming down the long side of the arena at a trot, do three strides of shoulder in, then transition immediately to medium trot following the shoulder-in bend until we get to the third track. Then, keeping the bend from shoulder in, leg yield back to the rail. Needless to say, it blew both our mids. Welcome back from vacation, indeed! When things with the leg yield went all wrong, we changed the exercise to include a halt after the medium trot, and a 360 degree turn on the forehand before trotting off again and then performing the leg yield. The entire exercise was intended to be ridden on the same bend.

Interestingly, it exposed a lot of weaknesses with my own execution, because I would try to adjust my reins after each stage of the exercise, which of course broke contact and Brego would lose his flexion. When I could keep it together and stay consistent, he was able to respond much better. In general, he is moving his shoulders well, but his haunches are still non-responsive, which is why we drilled the exercise, to teach him to move laterally off my leg aid.

We finished with some canter work, but we were both so exhausted that it was pretty not-spectacular. So another day goes by without capturing the "miracle" canter on film.

Overall, though, I think Brego came through the vacation very well. He's moving nicely and has much better balance than last time I took a lesson, which I believe was November 15th. This lesson gave us enough to work on for awhile, I think! Also, the 7" bit passed my instructor's critical eye. She really liked the way he was moving in it and did not think it was too big. Egads!


Beckz said...

I must say that I think its amazing what you do with Brego. I have never been one to think that drafts aren't athletic (unlike some who can only see plodders) but I know how difficult it has been to develop good paces and softness in my draft cross and he has only half draft conformation.

It's inspriational to see you improve this horse so much. Obviously he is a special horse but still. Keep up the good work.

Daun said...

Wow, just thanks! I really respect you and your opinion, having enjoyed your blog and what you believe in.

I can say that Brego is very special and he works very hard. And I have great trainers who believe in me and my horse. That makes a huge difference.

Hearing from you really helps me get through on those challenging days when I doubt my knowledge and my ability to make this giant draft horse learn to dance.

This year is going to be a great year, I can't wait to see what he can do!