Scottie has been improving massively on the flat recently, with us mastering our right canter and becoming round and on the bit in walk and trot almost all the time. This was shown in our most recent dressage score and feedback. However, we still have a long way to go.
Yesterday we had a flat work lesson and it went incredibly well! Claudine, who I had the lesson with, gave me a couple of lessons last summer and I think is a great instructor. She has always been very complimentary about Scottie and was impressed with how he has improved since last year. She noticed that although he is working on a contact, he isn’t quite working through his back properly and the aim of the lesson was to get him to lift his back and bring his hind end under him.
The first thing she made me do is raise my hands and sit up and back a little bit, pushing my shoulders back. I am lucky in that Scottie is naturally quite uphill through the shoulders. However, he needs to learn to lift his front end up a bit more in order to bring his hind end under him. We also worked on improving his flexion by asking for inside and outside flexion on circles and changing the bend.
Scottie picked up all these things very quickly and we were soon going beautifully in trot. We were able to collect, push forwards, change the bend and transition down to walk, working in an outline and lifting his back. I didn’t always last too long, due to his lack of strength, but it was a really positive step in the right direction. And hopefully with another few months of work, his trot and walk will improve massively.
We then moved onto the canter. The aim was just to sit back and push him into the contact whilst asking for inside and then outside flexion. His canter is weak generally and needs a lot of work, but even with the difference of me sitting up with my shoulders back helped. A big problem we have in canter is we tend to hollow and bend to the outside. But this improved towards the end of the session where Scottie started to realise what I wanted.
Interestingly, our right rein (worst rein) was our best in canter. He flexed to the inside and out much quicker and I think we had brief moments of roundness towards the end. Also, after all our cantering, we went back to an outline in trot much quicker than we have been, so again, a huge improvement.
I am hoping to film my dressage tests this week, maybe at the weekend and I am feeling really positive for both the intro and the prelim. If he goes as well as he did yesterday our intro should be lovely. And if we have a couple of successful sessions before filming, our prelim could be pretty good too!
It’s going to be a busy week, with a few shifts at the race track, hopefully an evening jumping and practising for these tests. But I plan on giving Scottie today off and then riding at least 4-5 days this week, including filming our tests!