Today was Sarah’s first day of Dressage Boot Camp. She had lessons on Frankie (thanks for sharing him Kim!!) and also on her own horse, Jag. Frankie has more advanced training than Jag, but also has lots of “tricks” that go along with his training. The “tricks” involve ways to get out of work, and his most favorite one is to leak through his outside shoulder and travel with his haunches trailing gently to the inside as he drifts out the outside shoulder. This makes it especially hard to steer him on circles, as he is bent in the direction he is going, looking the right way, appears to be turning the right way…. and yet somehow, is still moving in the opposite direction! We took advantage of this trick to work on the “inside leg to outside rein” connection during Sarah’s lesson. She had to be sure to bend him into the outside rein, testing it by softening on the inside rein to check if he would maintain contact on the outside rein. Then we practiced moving the outside shoulder in to a gentle shoulder-fore position, and then we worked on some circles. It only took Sarah a few tries to figure out how to use the outside rein to ride the outside shoulder around the circles, and Frankie was quick to let us know anytime Sarah lost that connection! Then we did a few canter transitions, allowing Sarah to experiment with the “lift the horse’s shoulders” feeling in the transition, since Frankie can do such a nice, uphill canter. Sarah loved it. Then we finished off by riding a canter circle, and Sarah worked on using her seat to make the canter stride bigger and smaller. It was awesome!
Then we took the same feelings to Jag. We worked on keeping him stepping into the outside rein, since he too likes to run through his outside shoulder. We worked on making his trot bigger and (mostly) smaller, while keeping him reaching into the bit and bending into the outside rein. Then when that was looking good, Sarah sat a few strides, and asked him to canter! He did a great canter circle, and then returned easily to the “little trot” they had started from! I was so proud of them, I think it’s their best canter yet!