Virtually every lesson we have leads to a discovery that Scottie has learnt a new way to avoid having to work properly. Our lesson o Saturday was no different!
Squeezing leads to tension
A bad habit I currently have is to squeeze with my legs rather than tapping with my legs. While this isn’t an issue in itself, Scottie has now started to become numb to my little squeezes. This means I have to squeeze harder to get a response from him. When I do this I tense my knees and hips, which means I block him so he can’t work as well as he should.
Instead I have to think about tapping with my legs, similar to how you would use a whip. Not only does Scottie respond well to this, but I also don’t have to work as hard to keep him moving forwards. Which is a big bonus!
Another habit Scottie has learnt is that if he bends too much to the inside he then physically can’t work properly. He likes to throw his quarters to the inside so when I try and correct this I use inside leg and inside hand. But this blocks his movement.
Instead I need to focus on keeping a conversation going down my outside and using my inside leg to push him straight. After a bit of arguing Scottie did stop trying to be a banana and floated down the long side beautifully! So as uncomfortable and awkward as it feels giving with my inside rein and thinking pull his head to the outside is, it is really working on A) getting him straighter and B) getting him to use himself properly.
Overall it was a really product lesson and I already saw a big improvement when I rode the next day with him accepting the aids much quicker. So fingers crossed this continues to improve and I might need to find someone to stand in the school and shout “Quick Legs” and “Outside Rein” at me!