Lesson Recap: Separate Body Parts

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to get a lesson from my normal dressage trainer, Michele. Two lessons in a week! Exhausting but awesome.

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Kitty on shipping boots. Relevant!

Since I still felt like I was digesting Kim’s lesson, I was happy that Michele’s didn’t overlap at all. (I was also happy with the level of response, to both upward and downward transitions, I got from Robbye. She was much more forward and much more responsive, to my delight.)

This lesson was interesting. We started out doing some leg-yielding, which we haven’t worked on in…way too long. But Rob responded to my leg well, and when Michele started to change a few details of the yield, I knew that she was pleased that we had the basic move down.

For now, our biggest issue with the yield (and with bending, as well), is that Robbye likes to use her big strong shoulders for evil. So when I ask for a yield, she dumps all of her weight on her outside shoulder and lets her hind end trail back and out.

This issue was surprisingly easy to fix by closing my outside thigh and rein. Just by slowing the motion of her front half and encouraging the motion of the back half, we were able to accomplish a few very nice, very straight yields. Success!

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Apparently it’s a kitty kind of post.

We next moved onto yield against the wall. I’ve built a nice (giant, spike covered, monster occupied) wall in my mind in regards to this exercise- not only have I not practiced it for six months, but I had also completely forgotten about it.

Probably because I can’t seem to coordinate my silly body for the thing, and that frustrates the hell out of me.

Anyway, I did manage to understand a little more about what I need to do to accomplish the exercise successfully. For Shoulders of Doom Robbye, it actually takes a lot more outside aids than I expected – same as in the leg yield, I need to close those aids so that she doesn’t barrel through her shoulder. And of course I need to sit up straight but not tense, weight my seat bones, and ask for correct bend – all issues I’ve had with the exercise in the past.

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Charllye is clever enough for board games.

The best part of the lesson was that I got to see some improvements not just of the yield against the wall, but also from the yield against the wall. After spending so much energy moving Robbye’s body parts independently, we were able to achieve a really nice, round trot. In self-carriage. And forward. 

At the end, Michele remarked that she thinks we’re getting back to where we were before Christmas, and I actually am inclined to agree. We all know that working with horses is going to involve losing ground sometimes. It’s happened to me before, and it will again, but this time…I was just so excited about finally getting that frame, about having a forward horse, about maybe finally being competitive again, that when Robbye lost it all, I also lost it all too. Lost my patience, lost my ambition, lost my dedication.

This may be the worst backslide we’ve ever had, and one of the worst timed, but I know that I’ve grown as a rider from it. It was a lesson I needed to learn.

Now that I’ve learned it, though, can I get back to the progress?!

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8 thoughts on “Lesson Recap: Separate Body Parts

    1. I’m such a noob – I hadn’t realized that lateral work made such a huge difference *outside* of actually moving laterally. I thought they were leading up to dressage moves, not that they were more building blocks to everything else.

      Dressage is so humbling 🙂

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  1. “Use her big strong shoulders for evil” haha! So cool that you’re feeling in tune and figuring out those little changes that make such a big difference. She sounds like a super cool horse!

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    1. They really are evil! And I swear she activates the muscles on purpose. We’ll be going around all nice and then suddenly SHOULDER ACTIVATION. And then we’re downhill and leaning around corners and basically falling over sideways, lol.

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  2. glad it was such a great lesson – i’ve been trying to work on a lot of lateral-esque stuff (it really can’t be called true lateral yet haha) to try and improve our general way of going. and it’s working!

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    1. That’s how I think of our lateral work, too – it’s really just “lateral-ish”. It’s amazing how even attempting the lateral stuff affects the non-lateral stuff, though! Imagine that 😉

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