It has not been an easy two months. After I hurt my neck and shoulder I had to take 2 weeks off riding, and I barely rode the 3rd week. Which doesn’t sound like all that long but it had a significant impact on my riding. It was definitely the case of one step forward and two steps back. I couldn’t find the connection with Savannah. We trotted around the ring with either her nose up in the air or with her neck braced and stiff. If I got her to loosen her neck, she’d loose her impulsion. If I pushed her forward to get the impulsion back, she’d tighten her neck.
Luckily I have an awesome trainer so after some long talks and several lessons we were able to get our connection back and then some. For the first time I was able to feel Savy relaxed, connected and pushing from the back…consistently. We started doing half halts to get her to sit and lift, we can only get it for a few strides, but the feeling is amazing. We even knocked out an awesome leg yield and learned shoulder-in (ish).
I know it seems like we’re taking a lot time to learn connection and I have to keep myself from getting frustrated. Savy and I have both been learning dressage for a little over a year, and this is my first experience with a baby. We had to learn how to steer, Savy had to learn that leg means go. She had to learn that contact on the reins doesn’t mean stop or toss her head. And it was incredible how unbalanced she was. She walked like a drunken sailor because she literally didn’t know how to balance a rider. Every now & then I have to give myself a pep talk so I don’t feel like a failure 🙂 It’s called adult amateur shame….read this wonderful article.
This is a video from my latest lesson. Savy was very fussy because it was Saturday morning and her friends were outside and she wasn’t, and she had to spend Friday inside due to the weather. She was very forward and didn’t want to accept the contact (apparently she thought if she went fast our lesson would be over quicker). So Nicole had our tempo a little slower than normal so that she could keep her balance and not fall onto her forehand. We realized that my biggest problem with connection is in the corners. I don’t keep her bent enough. The issue is that when we go down the long side I loose the outside rein, and getting it back causes her to toss her head. For the time being I’ll need to almost over-flex her in the corners.