We started the lesson walking on the rail and trainer commenting on how stiff he is. He is very stiff, but he has only been ridden 5 times in the past 3 months. I told her that I wasn't sure if we'd ever jump again, and that we'd hopefully be working to a future in dressage. She said that Finn will never be a grand prix dressage horse, that his conformation will really limit him, and that he is built very downhill. I understand that Finn will never be grand prix, and he is not a 17h, gorgeous mover, warmblood, but I do feel like he has potential for something. This trainer made me feel like he has potential for nothing.
After walking on the rail and talking to me for 5 minutes we were called into the center of the ring to work on "softening" Finn. I am very stiff through my upper body/elbows, which is something I've always struggled with. To get Finn to soften we stood in the center, I would completely let go of any contact on one side, and then I would turn him in tiny circles while putting my hand behind my thigh, with Finn's nose on his shoulder, or practically touching my saddle........for 45 minutes. I think I trotted all of a minute. Our entire lesson was spent in little, spinning circles, to get Finn to soften. Every time Finn would sigh she'd say "that's good! he's giving in!" I wanted to be like no, he's pissed...while he's grinding his teeth. There was no forward motion. There was Finn resisting and getting more and more confused. I think the final straw was when she told me to "not let him be a little dick", and "I don't care if he falls on his knees, just get him to soften". ........UM WHAT?! This is just not the way I do business with my horse. After 45 minutes of this, into what was supposed to be an hour lesson, she told me to "get off NOW!!!" I literally flew off Finn. She told me I need to get off when he gets the concept we've been working on. Pretty sure neither of us "got it".
Luckily we will be working with our old dressage trainer next week, and also have a few dressage clinicians out to work with us. I am all about brutal honesty, but at the same time, 45 minutes of spinning in circles, left both of us dizzy and confused. I want a trainer that will be honest, but also see potential in my horse. After that lesson I spent a long time hanging in Finn's stall and he kept coming over to me, nuzzling my neck, and breathing in my face. It was like he was asking me "mom...what was that?!" I've given him the past few days off, and tomorrow we're taking it easy and going out for a long trail ride-- exactly what we both need!