My trainer Laurie was upbeat following the show. But she could tell that I was disappointed and responded with a proactive approach by saying we would start changing things up.
Firstly, she said that she would hop on Hemie more often at the beginning of my lessons (the last time she rode him was in December when I was injured). I really like Laurie riding Hemie - since I only do packages of lessons its as close to "training" as I can get. And since Hemie is a fast learner, these mini training rides actually are quite effective. I like to watch her ride because she is a more effective rider than I am, and she also is able to clearly demonstrate how she gives certain aids so that I can try to implement them. It also makes me feel a little better she says something like "Oh, I see what he's doing here - no wonder you were having trouble with XYZ."
Secondly, she said we should really start including more bit-ups. I haven't done any since we move to Castle Rock last month, and she said that it would be helpful as he understands lifting his back while connecting to the bit.
At our dressage lesson this week, we stared by longing but with the reins tucked behind the stirrups for a very small bit-up effect. Then Laurie longed, but moving all around the arena, ensuring Hemie didn't fall in or out. I'm now doing more of that before lessons - longing him through the water and around scary things, but constantly moving and changing so he has to pay attention to my positioning.
Last week's dressage lesson I asked Laurie to focus on me more instead of on Hemie. Laurie does not belive in equitation - she believes firmly that "form fits function" meaning that you ride in a manner to produce the desired behavior in the horse, not to satisfy any preconceived notions of how a rider should look. In principle I agree, but I think it has resulted on lessons focusing more on Hemie than on myself.
Be careful what you wish for, because then the lesson proceeded to kick my butt. We worked on strengthening my outside rein aid - it seems I have been countermanding my outside rein and getting Hemie's to really come through the outside rein by using too much inside rein. It took lots of focus for me to not use the inside rein. Plus I needed to use much more leg than normal to really create the level of throughness Laurie was looking for. Definitely something to start working on much more!
Hoping everyone had a fabulous Easter weekend! Congratulations to Nicku and Pongo for a great go at Galway this weekend!