Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bad lesson, new instructor?

I had another lesson today at the RDA. I think I will try a new instructor. I got there early today so I took Sam to the indoor to warm up. He was relaxed and happy at walk, trot and canter. I didn't ask for anything and he was happy to cruise along. Jane turned up and he went tense straight away. Jane likes a horse to be very responsive. So when we are at halt and want to walk on if I squeeze with my seat and get nothing or Sam is slow to start walking I have to bump with my legs. When I bump with my legs I still have to get a 'big' reaction. I don't like this. My confidence isn't really up to that yet. Sam also gets upset with this.

We worked on my position alot which was good - I like that because I believe that will really help Sam and able me to ride more effectively.

Sam was rushing and tense during our trot work. We have a new exercise of doing figure of eights with 10m circles. This does make him slow down, think and we really asking him to bend and step under himself. After a while he is able to change direction without lifting his head and getting tense through the change of rein. We he becomes soft and flowing we take him out onto a bigger circle.

Then we did walk canter transitions. Poor Sam found this a little too much and started to grind his teeth. Once in canter he really rushed, fell in on the circle and generally just ploughed around. We also did a few trot canter transitions and I thought they were terrible but she didn't give instruction while I was trying to do them. She helped me work on his canter because he is very strung out and on the fore hand but at no time helped with those transitions.

By the end Sam was extremely wound up - leaping during our canter work and the grinding was getting really bad. I ended up saying that was enough for today and walked him out just to let him cool down and relax. When Jane left I could feel Sam start to relax.

I understand you want your horse to be responsive but I thought it would be better to start off with a relaxed horse who is willing to make transitions in a quiet manner. Once we have that established then work on them being more responsive. She keeps telling me for collective work we need our horse to be forward and I agree but at the moment I want a quiet steady soft frame and then start working on finer details.

I think I will have to talk to her and tell her that I am not really liking what Sam is becoming. I like my position and how that is improving but I don't like how upset Sam is getting now. He used to be such a laid back cruisy horse and now there seems to be a lot of tension. I am not just blaming Jane I am the one riding so I am doing a lot to upset him but I am following her direction.

There is another instructor coming to town next weekend. I have heard reports about her so I think I will try and organise a lesson and see how we get along.

A great thing today though. I loaded Sam, towed him to the lesson, unloaded and then reloaded and towed home and unloaded all by myself today. He unloaded so well. We have been working on waiting in the float until asked to back out and to back out slowly. Seems like that training is really paying off. Loading he still bawks once and then loads fine. He does need encouragement with the dressage whip though to keep going up the ramp. I was very proud of myself and of course Sam!!!!!!


Shannon said...

You are absolutley correct, Sam needs to work on relaxing first. The training scale is "rhythm/relaxation, contact, impulsion, straightness, collection..... it all begins with relaxation. I agree that the horse should be responsive, and the leg bumping is a good way to get that, but if the horse is tense he can't be forward. Good for you for recognizing that something isn't right and I hope you like the other instructor!

Anonymous said...

As Shannon, says, relaxation has to come before anything else - if you don't have that you've got nothing. I had a good lesson myself on that point today - hope the other instructor works out!

Wiola said...

Definitely agree with you too. Personally, I don't think we should always stick to how the Training Scales goes as even German trainers will jump from one element to another as and when needed BUT I do think the approach you describe works fine for very laid back horses, or simply put- very lazy ones. If your horse responds with tension to this sort of education, then you are right changing tracks.

Like said before, without relaxation and also trust and submission everything else have little quality.

Also, you said that the moment your instructor walked in your horse tensed up...he probably read your state of mind and if your instructor's method makes you nervous/worried/tense then it's definitely worth trying someone else.
Hope all goes well for you!