I’m reading Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa right now due to my Kobo being seriously out commission and found this quote by her that really appealed to me.
Had my private dressage lesson last night with Karen Brain and Oats, and we got a chance to re-visit the rather challenging ‘simple’ exercise of Sunday, of cantering down in a straight line off the track.
I warmed Oats up and he was coughing a lot with the dust in the arena…It’s weird because it has gotten flooded in the close end of the arena, and then it’s so dusty in the far end. I know it gives Oats trouble, particularly now as allergy season/dust season rears its ugly head. So our warm-up consisted of a lot of coughing from him, until he cleared it and was ready to work. He was fairly stiff, and not moving great at the walk and canter. His trot felt ok though. His canter was heavy and kind of draggy, on the forehand, and I felt like he was kind of dragging me down.
I was telling Karen this and we decided to work on some lateral movements at the walk, as I said his walk felt really sucky. So, we went straight into head-to-wall leg yielding, transitioning straight, and then haunches in, and then transitioned back to the leg yield. Oats was GREAT! So compliant! It was amazing!
He usually fusses and fights a bit, but I was able to lighten the reins and really work with him. Quite pleased.
We then worked on walk-canter transitions (they also sucked at first, wow…) that was fairly tricky because Oats was like…blahhhhhh at first. From the canter transition, we worked on lightening his shoulders by not getting me dragged down in the tack. It felt weird to keep my hands so high, and my hips/shoulders pulled tall and back, but it worked. His canter was more uphill and forward, and we took it to the ‘off the track’ exercise at the canter with a LOT more success than I had on Sunday when I tried it.
He still broke to trot one time when he fell behind my leg, and we got 1 swap as well, but overall it was a higher quality attempt and his canter was really nice.
I was very happy with Oats’ attitude towards our dressage work- it does NOT come easy to him, like jumping does. Good boy!