Dressage Lesson with Claire McCormick @ CMC Equines – Session 3

Finn was not keen to load today – took 25 minutes to get her on the trailer, even with Marie and Shaun helping!  Consequently we got to Claire’s about 10 minutes late.

Having worked in, Claire commented that Finn was swinging more through her back and using herself much better, she is lifting more in front of the saddle and is also starting to develop some top-line, mainly just behind the saddle and her trapezius; this is great news and it’s nice to be able to see physical improvements in Finn’s muscle development in a fairly short period of time.  We’ve only been riding with Claire for 5 weeks.

We started working in the same vein as last time, Finn’s balance has improved and she has really improved off the leg, but I’m still covering up and propping Finn up too much.  We worked today on getting Finn into balance and then completely giving the reins (both at the same time) to encourage her to carry herself.  This was starting to come together and we were about to start on the counter-canter.  I told Claire that I had only managed one decent counter-canter since our last session when Alex Hargie came into the school.  Alex is a visiting trainer to Town Crier Cottage and is there every 3 weeks, he rides and trains horses from Prelim to Grand Prix.  Claire asked if Alex would ride Finn to help with the right lead counter-canter.  Alex rode Finn very sympathetically and got some really nice counter-canter work, he started with a very light seat but was able to sit into the saddle once she became more balanced.  He suggested that rather than over riding each turn, I should sit correctly, applying the correct aids and keeping the correct bend etc., but not over-collecting Finn and holding her up too much.  We now have ‘somewhere to go back to’ in that when she changes I must trot immediately and pick up the counter-canter straight away.  And she must learn to balance herself – not to over-rely on me to do that for her.

Alex said that he thought Finn was being very generous and genuine, that there was no malice in her and he thought she was really just working it through – that she probably couldn’t understand why we were asking her to canter on the ‘wrong’ leg.  I got back on after Alex had finished and Finn felt much more balanced, Alex coached me a bit and said that I must not worry about looking too tidy, but concentrate more on being effective at home, even if it means flapping a bit!

We are at the stage now where I must let her carry herself – my job is to keep the rhythm and stay in balance, Finn’s job is to carry herself.  I’m going to lunge her tomorrow as she’s worked very hard today – will try her with the base-reins.

She did walk straight back onto the trailer to go home – think she was too mentally tired to even think about arguing!