In very late July, I decided to put Robbye into training. One of the main factors in that decision was the exciting revelation that I would get two lessons a week on my trainer’s schoolmasters – so Robbye and I would be in separate, simultaneous boot camps!
I’ve now had four of my lessons, and am obviously way behind on journaling about them. I always come home exhausted and overwhelmed, and have only managed to write bullet points of my notes. These recaps are truly for my own reference, though, so I’m trying not to feel bad that they’re super boring 😉
My first mount for boot camp was my trainer’s 20 year old Intermediare 2 thoroughbred, Hollywood. Hollywood is truly a schoolmaster. He has some really great buttons, and is generally a very willing mount. He only refused to work with me when I really truly was asking the wrong question, which I appreciate. There’s definitely value in riding a horse who only gives the correct answer when his rider asks perfectly, but right now I’m way too much of a noob for that horse!
So here are my notes from my first lesson on Hollywood. He taught me a ton in that first hour:
- Need to get my lower leg under control. GAH.
- Need to start asking for, or maybe installing, big-girl turns on Robbye. Horses can truly turn and make a right angle, using their back ends. Robbye doesn’t need to make baby turns anymore and Hollywood certainly doesn’t need to.
- Need to sit on my butt more – more weight directly on my seat. This point was really hammered home when I realized how much I could control Hollywood’s pace with my seat!
- I need to make my dressage seat my “safe” seat. I consistently pop myself into a half seat in the canter, and that’s confusing and weak.
- I need to be more vigilant about bend. At times I’d just let Hollywood fall out of his bend, or even become counterbent.
- I need even more of a “slouchy” dressage seat. Less hunter!
- My hips should remain open – this will directly result in more weight being put into my butt.
- I need to cut out the tension. It’s not fair.
The second lesson was more of the same, although I started out more confident and ended much more confident. I did have a major aha moment about holding my hands like I’m driving a clown car: all of a sudden, it all made sense and I could keep my hands contained, with my thumbs up and my outer hand lower.
I also took two mini lessons with Robbye, on the ground. Kim and her daughter are working on instilling constant submission from Rob, and they of course need to teach me how to do the same! Here are my notes from those sessions:
- Things need to happen quickly. Horses in the field, in their natural groups, don’t move slowly and don’t nag. I should be quick and aggressive.
- When leading, Robbye should stop when I turn and face her. She should back immediately and quickly when I touch her chest.
- She should never invade my personal space. My reaction to that invasion is “bites” (grabbing with my thumb and fingers) and aggression, until she submits. Again – quickly respond, then quickly remove the aggression.
- She needs to give her neck from side to side more – carrot stretches, but more extreme and at any time in her workout. Trot > halt > immediately bend. Her willingness will show both her submission and her softness through the neck and jaw.
I’m excited to tell you about the other lessons I’ve had so far… one of which was… Not dressage!