This week is half term here, so a month or so back I decided to kill two birds with one stone. As well as take the kids to visit family, I would take the horse too. This way we could see family spread out over two days instead of crammed into one, and I could get some much needed tuition at the same time.
My grandma, aunt and great aunt are all amazing riders, my grandma and great aunt are also riding instructors. They are all really into dressage.
Now, the mare and I can trot around looking pretty, but it is far from correct. I have been working really hard at riding her with my seat and leg, and trying to leave my reins alone, and I thought we were improving. It definitely felt better. But dressage is our weakest phase.
But by the end of our first session with my aunt I honestly felt like I had never sat on a horse before. My reins are always too long, so I was made to shorten them, and put my hands more forward and opened wider (I am guilty of keeping my hands pretty much in my lap) this immediately made me feel unbalanced. I was nagged about my right heel creeping up constantly, my inclination to just push the horse forward at all times (and so unbalancing the horse) and you don't want to know what was said about my canter transitions!
Day two saw an improvement, and we did things I didn't think possible - travers, walk to canter off a demi pirouette, shoulder in etc. Don't get me wrong, none of it was pretty, but now we have some extra exercises for schooling which was the plan. I felt enthusiastic and couldn't wait to see the videos!
Well, that was a bad move. The videos looked nothing like it felt. I looked like a sad sack of potatoes, and yes my reins are way too long, and my poor horse looked like some overworked nag from Victorian London (ok, one that was finally tracking up, but still) I can't believe the weight and muscle she has lost since our jumping lesson a few weeks ago (I compared videos) it is truly baffling! She is getting more food that she was(fibre based) she is so full of energy that I have decided to try her on the gelding's magnesium supplement to see if she relaxes more. I can't understand how she has lost so much!
So the plan for the next few weeks is to work on my new exercises in walk and hope it builds up some muscle and helps us both to become more supple, and take her out for walks around the summer paddocks for grass and more slow exercise in the afternoons.
So all in all, the dressage boot camp was a bit of a wake up call in more ways than one.