So this week I videotaped a lesson with Jeremy. I then watched it back repeatedly, taking copious notes for you. I also realized that note taking directly after a lesson is probably a great idea as a learning tool. We often forget what the trainer said as we were riding, but keeping a log that we jot down points in (perhaps while our horse is in the cross-ties drying) can be a great tool. Remember in these schooling tips that my horse tends to be hot and forward. Our problem is more bringing him back then getting him forward! The same might not be said about your horse. But I hope you can find a grain in this for you.
So when working on transitions, make each one bigger and more definite. Take risks in schooling. Constantly push them forward and back. When bringing him back, be tough in it! Try out different things; put in a change, then back, then forward to a pirouette and back, etc. Make each one quick but with organization. Do not have a trot step from walk into the canter. Not even a baby step! If you don’t get eights in the transitions (he said in that Jeremy straight forward way) it is because you don’t school enough. Demand a transition; every transition in schooling should be an eight or do it again. Also in transition no pulling in the neck from walk to canter. Use the outside rein to keep him round. No lifting the neck into it. Be careful not to chase him off it with your leg.
Pirouettes jump into the canter. In the right pirouette I have to be stronger on left leg, making smaller and smaller circles until he takes the weight on his left leg and moves over with the right hind. It is a jump and over motion off of the left spur. Haunches in, with big reaching steps behind; you should feel him take a step with the left and reach big with the right. Don’t just pull him right and left without riding the hind legs. Remember hind legs are what make the front feel better. You deal with the issue on front but ride the hind legs to really remedy the situation. Challenge him to be steady with the outside spur. Hold steady on a ten meter circle, having the shoulders stay on the 10 meter circle but the haunches are way in –like—on an eight meter circle with the haunches in.
Also on pirouettes he said to keep the angle and bend the neck more. This hollows the body on the right side and makes a bigger pocket for that right hind leg to go into. When he starts to take the weight behind, sit. And NEVER come out of the pirouette to a walk. No! No! It is not this way in the test. This is like riding a line of flying changes and then walking in the corner immediately after. NO NO (he reiterated). You never want their minds in a downward transition linked with that movement as it is never done in the test.
On my left pirouette he said sometimes when I come around he can see my spur touch him, but I seem to be negotiating. Give him no other option. It is not about waiting for it to get better! Be tough and don’t negotiate. If you use the spur, use it.
He said in my trot work I sometimes run flat without really using the lift in his back. I said that when I try to put my arm to my knee I don’t have the strength to get him or pull him. Jeremy responded that’s why the hand comes up and because he’s stronger and we get the wrong effect. The neck shortens and tightens his back, so it gets the jaw to give, but neck is up and nose is in but he is not over his back. (hint to build biceps and triceps here) also when hand is low and wide down over leg, draws his neck down, round and long and into the outside rein.
Finally, he said when I hit resistance I do a good job in fighting him through it, but when he softens and I finally get what I ask for I give it away. He can see my mind say “ok now he’s done it.” So I correct the wrong but I don’t give the next step of turning it into something better. So don’t quit when it finally goes right!