leg yield

canter, Carl Hester, dressage, dressage lessons, haunches in, leg yield, natalie perry dressage

I Wish You Rode

I came home from the Carl Hester dressage clinic inspired and ready to ride.
Fortunately, I had a lesson scheduled for the very next morning. My trainer, Natalie had been at the clinic, as well, so we had a grand time discussing clinic highlights and which horse we wish we could have come home with.

One of the horses from the Carl Hester clinic that I wouldn’t mind owning.

We got down to work and I tried SO hard to keep my upper body elevated, per Carl’s instruction. I tried to keep my hands in front of the saddle and use my legs more independently, knowing he’d be pleased if I did so. Awareness is the first step toward improvement.
The lesson was SO good, on the way home I found myself wishing that more of my friends would ride. Why? Because this is such an important thing to me — and yet I can’t share it with them.
Let’s say I called Kim, the good friend I mountain bike and nordic ski with. Imagine the conversation.
Me: “Our haunches in is really improving! I am so excited!”
Kim: “Huh? What’s a haunches in?”
By the time I explained the exercise, Kim she would be sorry she picked up the phone.
Perhaps I would do better to lead with the canter exercise, since it was more dynamic.
Me: “We did a great exercise at the canter! Canter down the long side, leg yield off the wall to the quarter line (which I’ve never done before) and then back to the wall! It really tuned Micah up to the leg, straightened him, and was a great obedience exercise. It also made me use both legs.”
Kim: “I have to go clean toilets now.” (Hanging up)
Me: “Damn.”

Kim enjoying a different kind of saddle. No haunches in here.

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Like Two Feet of Fresh Pow

I finally came up with an analogy to help my non-horsey husband understand why I’m cranky about leaving town right now.

I’m having so much fun with my horse and our barn community, I’m just not eager to leave. Micah and I are really starting to click. I’m dutifully working without stirrups, trying to improve my seat and memorize the feel of where my legs should be.

A minor adjustment to my position in the saddle made a huge difference in our last lesson. I was able to sit more deeply in the canter, with that mysterious sense of being ‘engaged.’ I want to own this. Micah came up and under me in a whole new way.

Last week's schooling show gave us great input as to what to work on next

Last week’s schooling show gave us great input as to what to work on next

I’d love another thousand hours of cantering without stirrups to help me get it right. Throw in transitions, leg yields, and changes of direction to challenge my stability. Add exercises like shoulder-in to renvers to make me move in the saddle without blowing my leg position. I love the challenge – both physical and mental.

Yet here we are, packing for a trip to Palo Alto. Not in the least bit a vacation destination. I am so grumpy.

“Imagine,” I tell my husband  “that it’s ski season and you get two feet of fresh pow.” (That’s ski-language for fresh powder, also known as ‘freshy.’ )

“Oh,” Al said, with a glimmer of understanding. Al’s the kind of ski-nerd who’ll get up early to put first tracks in the pow. He’d be crying if we were leaving town after a fresh snowfall.

Al on the slopes, his happy place

Al on the slopes, his happy place

“That’s how I feel,” I told him — although what I have is WAY better than even the best day on the mountain. Counting the days until I find myself back in the barn, working on attaining balance and feel.

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