Short Steps and Flying changes
A few lessons with coach Danielle Keogh was just what the dressage gods ordered to kick of our 2018 season. Excitingly we were able to progress our work on both the short steps and the flying changes as well as further the developing the ‘pirouette canter’.
In Australia we are in the middle of a very hot summer, this combined with the delightful humidity of North Queensland made for a rather balmy weekend. Fortunately I had early lessons, starting at 6.20. The flip side of this was that I had to be up at 4am. Anything in the name of learning and keeping your horse comfortable though right!
I was a little nervous about how we would go with this lot of lessons as due to Nonie having only just been shod we came into these lessons off the back of almost 3 weeks off. But who knows, maybe that was exactly what was needed because my little horse bless her came out all cylinders firing. Sure she was sticky in the contact and would have preferred I carry her initially, however we were able to work through this and get stuck into the fun stuff. We worked through some really great exercises and I’ll share my favourites with you all.
Forward – Back
In order to make Nonie more adjustable a big focus this weekend was riding lots of transitions within the pace. But we played around with a new take of this exercise.
In the trot heading down the longside I was to ask Nonie forward backing up my leg aid with a light tap of the whip behind my leg. This helped to ensure a crisp response. To assist with the ‘back’ or coming towards the collected trot aI changed my whip position and used it on her croup to back up the aid from my seat and core.
There was a much clearer difference in the paces after working through this. I could feel the change flow through to the rest of our work as it helped to get Nonie more connected and in tune with my seat.
As some of you may know from my last clinic report I like to use leg yield in my warm up. So taking her off the wall to the centreline in the trot and canter was not a new exercise. What I really noticed this time was how important it is for me to check Nonie’s flexion within the leg yield. This keeps her supple and adjustable. Taking the flexion in the neck towards the direction you are yeilding also helps to ensure the shoulder is straight.
Now full credit to Nonie every single change she gave me this weekend was clean!!! But we felt our way through a new exercise to help in setting her up and getting her active from the new outside leg.
In trot we ride down the centreline and leg yielded back to the wall we then picked up canter and followed the arena large. At the end of the short side we went across the diagonal, took her shoulders to the inside (to the leading leg) and then I would apply the aid for the change.
The purpose of the leg yield in the trot is to get the horse ‘hot’ to the new outside leg. This meant that it wasn’t always 100% pretty, however you don’t want your horse to speed up as you apply your leg that they are moving away from.
The short steps are something that are still fairly new to us. But I am really excited at how they are progressing. The aim of the short steps is to get Nonie to bring her hind legs more underneath her and bend her hocks more. In today’s lesson we started off on a 10m circle with Dani in the middle holding the whip. As I trotted in front of Dani I would ask for the short steps and Dani assisted from the ground. Once we had got some good responses it was my turn to go it alone. Nonie tried super hard for all of this work, and we got some super short steps on the right rein which you can see in the video.
All of this has made for a pretty exciting start to the 2018 season.