Friday, July 15, 2011

Our Best Ride EVER!


We had a nice steady even trot going round and round the arena.  Once we were going steadily and evenly, we were able to go down the long side and maintain that tempo!  No more seeing a straight away and picking up the pace and having his hind end attempting to pass the front end.  The icing on the cake was when I asked him for a bigger trot and he blossomed into a lovely frame with his energy coming from the hind end that lifted me up a couple inches because he became so nice and round!  At the corner I was able to collect him and make a nice balanced turn.  I had a grin from ear to ear! 

The instructor thought I was nuts when I had described my horse to her prior to our lesson. 

So what did she have us do...

First of all, I shortened my stirrups one hole.  I felt much more comfortable and was able to keep my leg in line with my body much easier.  I have (hopefully had) a tendency to get my legs out in front of me and I'm reaching for the stirrups.   This helped the balance in my seat which in turn helped Ollie to be more balanced.

Then my instructor, Julie, mentioned that hot horses like quiet hands.  So that's what I did.  I kept my hands much more still and let him come into the pressure he preferred rather than me forcing it on him.  This got him to slow down and eventually stop his head tossing.  Such a simple thing! 

Julie kept reminding me, during the entire ride to keep my leg back.  This allowed me to use my inside leg better and when we did our work to the right - our bad direction - my inside leg was much better at supporting Ollie's dropping shoulder and reminding Ollie to carry himself.  The combination of keeping steady, quiet hands and legs really improved Ollie's carriage of himself.  It was lovely! 

Finally, Julie helped me with my own tempo and how my tempo will control Ollie's tempo by using my seat better.  Ollie has a very sensitive back and I can pretty much steer him and do most of my asking for things by using my seat.  It's SO MUCH FUN to ride a horse like this!  He doesn't like an active seat but when you make a slight adjustment he responds instantly!  So when Julie asked me at one point to increase Ollie's trot by 1% it was incredibly easy to do just by using a little more driving seat (ever so slight!).  Ollie kept his tempo but put a little bit more into his trot while remaining balanced.  The icing on the cake was the lovely big trot he gave me going down the long side and collecting it back up just before the turn - all the while remaining balanced.  I heard Julie say "Wow!  He has fancy movement!"    I was busting with pride!

We weren't perfect by any means.  It took me a bit to get my seat better balanced and for me to sit more upright - yes I grew up riding hunter/jumper...  Thing came together in our ride once I got it together in the saddle.

And Ollie had a couple hairy eyeball moments such as when the dogs took a short cut through the arena.  They popped out in a corner of the arena and surprised Ollie.  He kept thinking more things were going to pop out of that corner but with my legs securely on his side to let him know it's ok, he got over it.  His final hairy eyeball moment came when two of his buddies were being turned out.  He watched them but he continued to keep to task with my urging.  He was a very good boy!

I was on cloud nine after my lesson.  I wanted to give Julie a big hug from the saddle.  I just couldn't contain my happiness!  Ollie and I were riding how I had always hoped we would!  I still haven't come down from my high!!

Ollie gets to have today off - after all I did ride him twice yesterday.  He deserves it and a couple of carrots too.   I just want to smother him with kisses!!!!!!!!!!!

ps - we have another lesson next week  :)


  1. How EXCITING!! I have an instructor who has said several times that dressage riders must EARN the long stirrups--they need to learn to ride in balance and use their seat and legs more effectively. Difficult to do when you feel like you're REACHING all the time. The other side of that is, the horse learns to ignore all that "busy-ness" with your legs reaching for the irons. It's called "nagging." I'm guilty of that as well, though I'm getting better.

    Sounds like you and Julie hit it off. I'm sure one of these times she'll ask to ride Mr. Ollie and I bet you'll get a GOOD look at how HE looks. That will be fun, too ;o)

  2. So glad to hear you finally found an instructor; sounds like a good one for both of you! Congrats!