Today's lesson was a little disappointing in that Boomer wasn't nearly as super as he had been Monday and Tuesday. I think that he really does best with lots of days off. That is really hard for me because I want to practice a lot, but he doesn't do well riding more than two days in a row and performs best after two days off. I'm thinking about changing our schedule to MWTF so that he has the day off before our lesson and one day of trail riding after the lesson.
That being said, we did have some interesting things to work on. Boomer was a little heavy in my hand and was looking around (we were in the outdoor arena) and bracing against the bit. We did our best to work with that, but he just wasn't coming as light as I know he can. So, that was frustrating to keep having to get him rounder by flexing and doing circles instead of working on more exciting stuff. Grumble grumble grumble. I think that Karin knew that it was just an 'off day' and gave us some new things to work on during the lesson despite Boomer's rudeness. We worked a little on shoulder fore and shoulder in. I got a really good explanation of the difference between those and leg yield, which is clear on paper but less so in action. Boomer travels pretty straight, at the walk but he does have a tendency to travel haunches in at the trot and canter. This is apparently common as it allows the horse to keep from 'loading' his inside hind leg. So, rather than trying to push his haunches straight, Karin had me ride him in shoulder fore. Shoulder fore is basically just a very slight shoulder in. I should be able to see his inside eye lashes and focus on moving his shoulder to the inside just slightly. I was to visualize moving his shoulders over so that his inside hind leg was 'threading the needle' between his front legs. This all sounds simple in theory, but Boomer is very athletic and flexible and tried very hard to get out of doing this. He tried different variations of moving his whole body to the inside, moving his shoulders in and hips outside, moving his shoulders and hips inside, and doing his best impression of a half pass. We also got a flying change at the canter when I asked him to move his shoulders in. Not really sure why that happened, but Karin said that I had too much bend and he wasn't sure what to do, so he swapped. We pretty well had this down at the walk, but the trot and canter were so hard! I will keep trying and I'm sure Boomer will improve, but DANG! I was worn out!
I didn't really feel like this lesson was one full of improvement and wonderful feelings and butterflies. It was hard. We worked hard and didn't make a huge amount of progress. But, we learned some new theory and we will be able to implement it into our future rides and we will get better. If it was all easy and every lesson was full of huge gains, we would all be riding Grand Prix.
Because I have to brag, Karin continues to compliment Boomer on how athletic and flexible he is and said today that he 'really is a nice horse', which is nice to hear about an Arabian in a warmblood filled dressage barn. She also said that it is clear that he is capable of at least 3rd level lateral movements. Made my heart swell with pride! I really have no interest in showing him, but I do have the drive to push him to his potential and let him be the best he can be! I want him to be able to be used to his full capabilities.