It’s a good thing my Friday lesson after last week’s ridiculousness was a jump lesson, because I’m not sure I had it in me for more fighting about dressage. As it was, Murray and I got to take our first lesson in a long time with my RBF! She has just gotten a new pony, who is very spry and pretty fantastique, and finally we’re of a level to lesson together consistently again! The added challenge in our lesson is the RBF’s pony Lucy has a much bigger stride than Murray and likes to take the long ones, whereas Murray has a shorter stride and often wants to cram extra steps in. So B set the combinations to a 12 foot step and challenged us both to make it.
We kept the fences small, which was a good choice given the challenge of getting the striding. I was riding in a borrowed saddle as an experiment — the saddle I’ve had for a long time bridges pretty badly, and last week I found a sore spot in Murray’s lower back after my jump lesson. The borrowed saddle (same one I used at Twin, actually) doesn’t bridge, but is certifiably too big for me (very clear from the footage). Probably a good choice not to crank the fences up to 3′ given all that. (I did want to ask for them to go up for my last course, but wanted to solidify the success we had at the lower height once more, and thought it would be better to do that without changing things. Maybe this is why we progress slowly. Oh well!)
Once we had warmed up, I insisted that Murray move forward to the fences. This worked out well for us. Coming in to the (looking incredibly long to me) two stride to one stride combo, I kept my leg on, floated my reins (/ my whole arms, you’ll see) and we made the distance! It was a little long to the out oxer, but it wasn’t awful. Once I knew we could make the longer step, I continued to insist that Murray move forward to the fences. I sacrificed any contact (and apparently a lot of equitation) to do this — we really aren’t yet at the point where we can do both at once.
After the triple combination, we wrapped around wide to a little gate, and then a bending six strides to a one-stride with a panel that Murray has peeked at a few times before. On the bigger, more forward step even when Murray peeked at the panel we still had a very reasonable stride coming in and easily made the distance.
The second and third times through we wrapped back around to each of the combinations backward — one stride to two stride, and one stride to bending six stride. We made the strides every time, which was awesome, but my insistence on the forward pace did come with a bit of a price. For one, I gave up on all contact and just flopped my reins around the whole time. Murray was moving fairly flat and downhill, which was to be expected since we are not used to this big open step. My solution to this apparently to try to lift him up using my hands only? Not totally sure what I was doing, but I caught my hands floating up weirdly high on a number of occasions.
The saddle was also clearly too big for me, which was much more evident once I watched the videos. I did feel a touch in the wrong place during the lesson, but nothing like what the video showed. I have a smaller saddle (16.5″) coming from the UK but it won’t be here toward the end of the month, so I’ll need to figure out a solution for my jump lessons before then. Murray was much springier and forward than in my jump saddle, however, so a change is definitely in order.
I did have to get firm at one point, near the beginning of the lesson, giving Murray a sharp smack when he got sticky/balky as we walked off to start our course instead of moving promptly off my leg. He got his attitude in line pretty quickly after that, and didn’t get snotty or act out when I asked him to move off my leg. I’d like to start getting him more put together and forward for jump courses, which sounds weirdly familiar like I’ve been saying it for absolute ages? But it’s a good goal for the next few weeks before Camelot.
The video shows the most progress, really, so I’ll leave it at that.