I had a couple of spectators today: Hannah Anderson and Ricky Balshaw (Team GB para dressage rider). Started the lesson by once again getting Finn straight and forward, with a reminder of the correct scales of training:
1. Rhythm; 2. Suppleness; 3. Contact; 4. Impulsion; 5. Straightness; 6. Collection
Think of these as a pyramid, each level in the training scale builds on the previous one, with Rhythm at the base, and every layer built upon the other, giving the horse and rider team a logical way to work up the levels and improve their performance.
Once Finn was loose and forward we worked on the counter-canter, using a couple of exercises:
- On the right rein, true canter right along the short side, from M canter to X, from X travel down the centre line and into true canter by turning right at A. Repeat on both reins until established.
- On the right rein, true canter right along the short side, from M canter across the school towards E into counter-canter and ride a smooth and shallow arc onto the left rein, trotting at A. Repeat on both reins until established – then increase the amount of counter canter past A once the horse is balanced and relaxed.
- Alternatively, pick up counter canter on the track and ride a shallow arc along the short side. We didn’t actually do this exercise in the lesson today.
Ricky commented that I was riding rather deep on the short side – almost into the corner and pointed out that there was ‘dead space’. I must not be too greedy!
Finn was finding the counter-canter tricky and either broke into trot or did a flying change when she found it was difficult, especially to the right. I must correct her immediately when she does this and not allow her to drop off the leg – picking up the counter-canter straight away.
Nicky got on Finn and was quite tough with her (she has never ridden her before). She said she was heavy and leaning on the right rein – this is usual when she’s being obnoxious! Nicky did manage to get her to counter-canter and lightened her to the right hand. Ricky said that I was probably a bit soft on her and that she needs to be more respectful – he is correct but I’m still lacking confidence and conviction at times: note to self – must try harder! I got back on and she did feel lighter, I rode a couple of counter canters in either direction before finishing off.
Nicky said that canter was Finn’s best pace (Ricky agreed) and told me to use the canter! The counter-canter will help to improve the canter and to get Finn more supple and responsive. Home work to ride the exercises we did today and DO NOT let her lean on the right hand. I also need to think more about her frame and ride her more in a dressage frame – poll higher and nose more forward.