Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First lesson and we have Home Work?

I didn't know there would be take home work to do, but then again that was hardly the only new thing we learned. Pippi and I have a lot of work to do, but we are armed with lots of information and are ready to get to work.

This first lesson with Denise, BO, was everything I would have hoped for. Sure I could have wished that we, Pippi and I, knew more and had more skills.......oh, well, we have things to work on.

In Dressage everything is Forward, "even a halt, is a forward action" according to one friend. And we need to be "straight," I put that in quotations because it actually means we need a bend. A bend in both directions, not just a great bend to the left. According to Denise I need to see the corner of one of Pippis' eyes even when going straight. So Bent is the new straight! Being a Jumper, Pippi was not really trained heavily on this, nor did we really think about it as a goal.

This first lesson was actually an evaluation. Denise wanted to know what we knew, and what we needed to work on now that we are switching to Dressage. We found that as a Hunter Pippi has a lot to learn to be a Dressage horse, but she is willing and able, and so together we will get it done.
We started lunging, and Denise showed me some tricks and ways to be clearer. Pippi was pretty energetic with the cold air, and Denise was able to get her focused better than I could have.
Denise says "less talking," and that will be a challenge for me, but I saw how effective she was and I am ready to shut up.
Then I mounted up and Denise was quite happy with Pippi standing until I asked her to walk. And I was proud of that because that has been a goal these last few months. Denise loved my seat - THANK YOU!!!- and did not make any adjustments to me at all - THANK YOU!! She did switch my stick to a dressage whip, and that will take some getting used to. So I am not suppsed to let go of rein to smack? Hmmm. Okay.....
Other than that, it was all about the bend, and teaching me better ways to communicate; how to ask and when to reinforce. NEVER ask twice!!! Got it!
At the end of the lesson came a very valuable moment, and one that will allow me to get the upper hand. Pippi can be a very difficult and stubborn horse, and tends to get into battles of will. I needed a better way to quietly get Pippi to comply. She is much stronger, and perhaps even smarter, than I, but I know feel better armed. Denise told me to NEVER EVER EVER let Pippi get the last word. If I ask her to stand, and she creeps forward, make her back up. This seemed like such a small thing to me, but Denise really had a good point. And I really get it.

When I left Denise gave me my homework, and it is a signed copy of the book "Practical Dressage Manual" by Bengt Ljungqvist. He gave it to Denise when she attended one of his clinics at Meredith Manor Equestrian School when she was an Instructor there. The book was published in 1976, and I think it an eerie coincidence that Denise gave me a book written by a Scandinavian this many years later. I have read about 1/3 of it, and I highly recommend it.

So now I have two books to read, and another friend is lending me some Dressage videos, so I have lots of studying to do. Learn, practice and achieve. Those are my goals for 2013.

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