I had quite an insightful day today; my first lesson was with a lovely lady of the senior years, who likes her dressage. We don`t canter as she feels there`s so much to learn in walk and trot. Plus at her age she likes to feel safe! So over the last 12 months we`ve progressed from developing a good working trot, transitions, straightness. The full works. Then in the spring we moved onto lateral work with one of the school horses. It soon became obvious that this lateral work was becoming too difficult for this mare and she was struggling. So I played around with different horses, but needed a fairly slim horse, to take my clients leg but not be too wide for her bad hip. Eventually I came to the conclusion that my horse would be the best bet. She couldn`t harm him, she`s a very quiet and sympathetic rider. Even with my controlling personality I was sure my hours of schooling wouldn`t be undone.
So her lessons have been progressing well and last week we were leg yielding – 3/4 line to track, then track to 3/4 line to fool him. Both struggled with leg yielding away from the fence and I couldn`t get my head around why. She did everything I told her to do but there was a lot of swinging of quarters, rushing, tension, shuffling etc. We left it on a fairly flat note. This week however, I had a revelation! The reason both horse and rider were struggling to leg yield away from the fence was because I never did it – I always half pass in! That means my horse is already set up around the inside leg as you come around the corner and then crosses over beautifully. So today we had a breakthrough and covered both leg yield and half pass, my client enjoying feeling the sideways step. I finished the lesson feeling much better about my teaching technique and knowing my horse CAN do it! And my client went away over the moon because she had got the same amount of sideways movement that I do when riding my horse.
My second interesting lesson was with a girl and her cheeky pony; who won`t jump unless you ride it every step of the way in to the jump. Relax for a second and she`s scooting around the fence. My client has recently started getting into a bad habit (probably all the cross country and hacking over the summer) of not sitting on her bum in canter, so her shoulders are in front of the vertical and she`s not using her seat to keep the canter to the fence. I threatened to tie her ponytail to the pony`s tail! But she rode very well; using a A-frame to correct the pony`s straightness over the jump, but also a series of cones before and after, that they must go between before and after the jump. This gave my client a line to the jump, helping her corners, and also gave her a focus after the jump. They ended up popping over a 3ft upright to finish, so I was very pleased with them.