Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Dressage in Working Equitation

Monday we had our second working equitation lesson. The pony had overcome her terror of Fergus the bull, although it took her the first half of the lesson to settle into herself. We were somewhat hampered by be waking up without normal feeling in my hands (severe pins and needles and pain). This happens on a semi regular basis and leaves me feeling a bit strange. By the time I arrived I had my hands back but decided to ride Aba in the light rider bitless bridle. It doesn't have the finesse of a bit but less likely for my issues to affect her. My instructor would rather it was a straight side pull without the ability for the noseband to tighten. We will play with that. 

http://www.lightriderbridle.com ( obviously this isn't Miss A)

The first half of the lesson we worked on dressage to improve Our skills to handle the obstacles. 

First take home point: I tend to ask then hold, I need to ask then release or I'm going to be holding forever. My ask is too soft, my release too small.

Secondly, after 28 years riding (minus a few in the middle) I do know which trot diagonal I am on, I need to think more consciously about this and stop looking down!

Once we had some bend to the inside we started working on shoulder in. Rather than ask Aba to bring her shoulders in from the outside track we turned down the three quarter line then let her quartes "glide" out onto the outside track. We would go on like that then about an 8m circle in two tracks, returning to one track by the outside track. Apparently we achieved this, I felt the shoulder in but thought the circle was pretty suspect.  

We discussed that a pony like Aba is well able to do a six to eight meter circle, a warmblood would need more like 12 for this exercise. Similarly Aba, even at this stage of her training should be doing an 8m circle in the corners of the arena. This led to a discussion of the outside leg. I tend to do nothing with my outside leg as it seems to make Aba more crooked.

When on a circle the outside leg lives in the wedge (a) the natural swing of the leg and 'on the girth' . Where exactly is dependant on the size of the circle, with subtle consistency the horse will learn this. The wedge (b) is behind the girth and with upwards lift here is useful for the lateral movements. On the girth there may be consistent or on off pressure. Behind the girth the pressure should be more of an upwards wave.

So, we got the basics of shoulder in, we sorted out the outside leg issue. We talked about release.

Then we got onto working equitation! 

1 and 6 garrocha barrels
2 gate
3a and b barrels for figure eights
4 corridor with bell
5 bridge
7a, b and c poles for side pass, 2m for training, longer once established
8 bull and garrocha ring
9a to e weave poles
9e and f halt and move cup poles

In this lesson we ignored the gate and worked on the side pass as our only sideways movement. Side pass took some getting from the leaning tower of pony that is Miss A. Once I started PUTTING MY WEIGHT in my OUTSIDE  STIRRUP this got a whole lot easier. Really side pass is like leg yield, the horse is bent away from the direction of movement (interestingly in western pleasure side pass involves no bend) Side pass also involves NO forward so the horse has to rock ?back to get the inside foreleg across the outside one without falling over. The side pass has a way to go but I suspect Aba will find this much easier at home when I am calmer! 

We started with trot on the bridge - the pony can't possibly trot down hill. We still need to work on a square and centered halt between the halt poles. The bull and garrocha seemed easier this time, I used the broom handle garrocha not the short stick. 

We also got two canter transitions onto the left lead, yay!

So my home work is
1. Side pass
2. Halt between 2 markers
3. Shoulder in.
4. Release! ( I know know why the pony LEANS on me)
5. Maintain forward on a 10 m trot circle.
6. Think about where my weight is.
7. Think about where my legs are and how they are asking.
8. Learn to feel my trot diagonals 

Now to find the energy to ride the pony!


  1. I do the same "holding" that you do! I used to do it with my hands quite a lot, but Trainer and I have worked to break that habit... but now I've found sometimes I do it with my legs too.

  2. Hi, thanks for the comment, nice to know someone is reading! Isn't it funny how what we do is so psychologically motivated that we don't do it in just one area (ie hand, leg). Here's to improving!