When Kim arrived for our lesson on Tuesday, I briefly explained the situation that Robbye and I were in. The tl;dr of it is that, upon arriving home from vacation, I found myself with a Very Bratty Horse. Because the longe is such a happy place for both of us, I had been longing in order to reestablish my Non-Bratty Horse, and was hoping Kim could give me a riding lesson on the longe!
She thought it was a good idea, and wow was it fun, educational, and a workout.
I started by warming her up on the longe as I normally do. Kim made a few suggestions, including that I should encourage her more to lift her front end and round aaaaaall the way through her back to her nose. It’s nice that we’re past baby roundness, and moving onto the next level of connection.
I got on and we immediately got to work. Forward, forward, forward. We did a ton of transitions, which were amazing – she absolutely shot into the trot. At this point, Kim emphasized that I needed to strengthen my core and my seat so that I can support Robbye as her movements get bigger. If she feels that she can get me off balance by racing into upward transitions or diving into downward ones, that’s absolutely going to become her “trick of the month”.
Together, we reviewed what our “working” gaits should feel like right now. Our working trot feels…exquisite. Powerful, smooth, and big but in no way fast. I feel like I could be riding in the Olympics with that trot.
Our canter is a little different. Kim insisted on a very big canter for now – I’m sure so that we can get the power, then reduce the tempo later. It’s a bit scary, especially when I feel we’re “careening” around a 17m circle on the longe. But, on the other hand, it’s a canter I would love to jump out of. I just need to learn that that’s the canter I want!
We worked on trot lengthenings too, which was just a blast. As we rounded on the longe and hit the long side of the area, I cluck twice and massage with my legs. Kim ran alongside us, giving us a straight shot to lengthen. Wow, did it feel awesome! This is another situation where I need a stronger core and seat – when she really took off, I was thrown off balance. I have to be ready for her to actually react, instead of riding defensively.
For each direction, we did a bit of work off of the longe, but with Kim’s support – really, a longe without the line. Robbye remained forward and responsive, and we even got some nice lengthenings on “our own”.
Kim agreed that if we just need to chill on the longe for a couple of weeks, and gradually get back to riding without a longe whip to chase us, that’s okay. We can accomplish a whole lot on the longe, and it’ll only improve our “regular” work.
My main takeaway from this lesson is just how much more potential Rob has than I give her credit for. I was settling for this crappy dinky trot, when really she has a wonderful, ground-covering trot that’s just a longe whip away. I need to make these big gaits my new normal!