You want him to believe that he can do everything fabulously.

Today I had a great lesson. My lessons are usually half an hour, but after feeling like I can't really get my groove in half an hour I asked me trainer if we could do an hour. We started really working on Finn's canter today. His trot is becoming much more balanced, but his canter is very unbalanced, and I have a tough time staying with him, and trying to help him. I tend to hold his head, which is a bad habit I've been trying to break. My trainer told me to just let go of his head and let him find his own sense of balance for now. I essentially had to act like the passenger, not the driver. For the first time ever, I sat back, relaxed, opened my hips, and Finn dropped his head, became round, and started really using his hind end. It felt amazing. I have the tendency to lean forward, push Finn into the canter, hold my upper body like a board, and not have a following hand. I think today was the first time I ever relaxed at the canter with him.
    My trainer commented that Finn is a very forgiving horse and that he instantly tells you if what you're doing is correct. I feel like our moments of correctness are becoming more and more.
    After working on the canter for a bit we started doing some crossrails. I haven't jumped in a while, so I was really psyching myself out about it. The first jump we came up to at the trot didn't feel right to me. He wasn't paying attention, and I hauled him to a stop DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE JUMP. I can't even believe I did this...I never ever have before. I was completely horrified. I immediately realized that that cannot happen, and before he could think about it to much, we circled, trotted up to the jump and sailed over it. My horse really is forgiving of all my faults!!!
    We then worked on cantering cross rails. Finn is such a smooth jumper (at times) that cantering jumps with him just feels like another canter stride and not a jump. He was such a good boy and dripping in sweat by the end of our lesson.
    At the end of our lesson we worked on a little more flat work. He was so loose, forward, and off the forehand, I felt like I had a different horse under me and it was amazing. I currently have Finn in a Myler Comfort Snaffle, but my trainer suggested I try a double jointed loose ring snaffle. I think I'll pick one up tomorrow and see how he goes in it.
    I feel like with all the riding lately Finn's level of fitness has greatly increased and my fear of his inabilities has greatly decreased. I think that with all the injuries Finn has had in the past year has made me think he is chronically lame, and that I needed to baby him (like ride only twice a week at the walk and trot...).
     I recently started reading Jane Savoie's Dressage 101. I've watched Jane's training videos in the past and absolutely love how she teaches in such a clear, "makes sense" approach. One quote really stuck out to me:

"You need to build the horse's self esteem. You want him to believe that he can do absolutely everything fabulously. This attitude goes for riders as well... Build your self esteem and your confidence in your abilities. The way to do this is to practice being positive about yourself. Create a mental image of yourself as a patient, capable, brave rider". - Jane Savoie

    This quote sums up everything I struggle with, and everything I need to work on. I know how Finn reacts when my confidence is there. He would jump the moon for me. I need to believe in that, and I need to believe in myself to get him there. I have big goals for both of us, and I know that we are both capable of getting there.
    I can remember only TWO good rides of 2012. One, a jumping lesson around June of last year, and two, our dressage clinic last September. To only be able to remember two really great rides in nearly an entire year of ownership is not good, or fun. Luckily, this year is off to a much better start.
     I have off from work tomorrow and plan on heading up to the barn in the afternoon. I'm thinking of doing some no stirrup work, riding for a while in two point (my legs were killing me after our lesson today!), work on the canter some more, and do lots of trot and transition work. I'm hoping to convince my husband to come up to the barn with me to get some pictures and videos of us.

1 comment: