Sunday, April 01, 2007

We are really starting to get somewhere!

I have had two lessons with Grace since the last entry, and both have been absolutely fantastic! I am also trying out a new saddle too; it is a Ray Symmonds dressage saddle which seems to fit both Grace and me really well. The only thing is that it seems to be pushing my leg a bit too far back, but my trainer think the leather needs to mould, and I need to buy some dressage leathers which fasten at the bottom to avoid bulk.

Our first lesson this week was with Spencer Wilton. Last time we had one he felt she was very weak over her back, especially on the left hand side. He also thought she looked very tight. However, we now think this is down to her saddle not fitting properly and flicking over to the right and resting on the left hand side of her spine.
This week, he said she looked much more supple and forward from the leg. He said she looked fitter, more toned and ready to work. We started off doing a few transitions and then went on to do some leg yielding from the centre line back to the track. Grace found this quite difficult, but she did get it eventually. Spencer then said to let her have a walk round on the buckle, and I was so grateful because my legs were aching and I was shattered!

I was just thinking how good the lesson had been when he said, “Right, let’s do all of that in canter!” My heart sunk because I didn’t feel either me or Grace had any energy left. But we picked up the canter and started turning up the centre line and not really getting back to the track. Spencer told me if she was not responding to my leg, to give her a whack with the whip because she needed to listen. So the next time, that was exactly what I did… and over she went (after a small buck)! He then instructed me to come straight back up the centre line and do it again, which we did and she just moved over as soon as I touched her with my leg! It was a fantastic feeling.

When we came back down to the trot, the power that was behind was unbelievable. And Spencer just said, “Now that is the kind of trot that makes you want to look at a horse!” I felt so proud of her, we have come so far from the first time we had a lesson.

So, with all that in mind we went for a lesson with Jo Graham. Grace came out quite fresh, but she travelled brilliantly and was so chilled out when we got there. She just stood munching in the trailer while I took her boots off which she does not usually do.

Jo told me that I needed to do lots of transitions with her when she comes out fresh, because that makes her sit back on her hocks and gets all that energy working for the right reasons rather than just running through the bridle. We worked on her half halts again, as she tends to slow the hind legs down when asked to collect a bit more, so we did lots to improve this.

When we cantered, it just felt so easy and uphill! Jo said she was a stunning stamp of a mare and had a very lovely natural canter… so again I feel like a proud Mum and can’t stop smiling when I think of how much she has improved. So it’s onwards and upwards now. I am planning on doing some unaffiliated competitions this month, and then will re-evaluate after that. I am hoping to affiliate her at the end of summer realistically, but I will see how she does in the next few unaffiliated ones.