With Rags still out of commission (two more days until he gets shoes, UGH) and Ezhno’s training in a spot where I could use some assistance, I decided to hit TrainerA up for a lesson last week. She found me an open slot in her schedule on Thursday and off we went!
The day before my lesson I put Ezhno back in the snaffle (mostly so that I didn’t have to juggle split reins and a dressage whip) and spent some time working on getting prompt lope departures. I also introduced Ezhno to the idea of moving laterally at the lope. We even got a few steps of sidepass in both directions!
Having TrainerA confirm that I’m taking the right steps with my horse’s training will never stop being gratifying. The work we did on Wednesday meant that Ezhno and I went into our lesson well prepared. TrainerA focused on a lot of the same things I’d practiced the day before.
We started off with sidepassing off the wall at the walk and the trot.
═══ Sidepassing off the wall naturally slows the horse by putting weight on the inside hind
═══ It’s okay for him to be slightly counterflexed, but ultimately we want him to be straight
═══ Don’t twist my body during the sidepass (AKA I can’t sidepass for him)
═══ If I lose his front/back end during the sidepass I shouldn’t halt to fix it
═══ If his hip really starts to lag I should straighten him out, not try to kick his hip into catching up
═══ Keep inside leg on to keep him straight and prevent from losing his shoulder
Then we went into the main exercise of the lesson: sidepassing off the wall at the trot and then moving directly into a lope transition. This was a really neat exercise that I’d never considered! I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough impulsion to transition to the lope from the sidepass, but it went well.
═══ Picking up the lope from the sidepass means the lope is slow and organized right away
═══ This can be done from the walk or the trot (I should practice my walk to lope transitions)
═══ On the right track he over flexes to the outside during the sidepass (which means I lose his shoulder), so I have to focus on keeping him straight and picking up that shoulder
═══ To slow Ezhno down I need to sit back and not use my voice (voice sounds too much like “whoa”)
═══ Hey, here’s a novel thought: if I want my horse to slow, maybe I should engage my core?
We spent a little bit of time working on adjustability (which also improves the quality of the lope) and our trot to lope transitions (which are still behind the leg and involve a little bit of head tossing).
═══ I shouldn’t have to hold him in the canter with my leg/spur
═══ Push him forward to get energy, then ask him to slow and rock his weight back
═══ For better transitions I really need to close my hand (this will get better with consistency)
Just like the day before, we also did a few steps of sidepass at the canter in both directions. Ezhno also had a moment of stupid when he spooked at the far end of the arena for no reason—I can’t decide if he heard something out in the woods or if he was just ready to be done with work, LOL.
It was a really great lesson. I’m super excited to keep working on this stuff with Ezhno!