My lesson with Flow today had so many awesome, albeit annoyingly fleeting, moments. We have found a much higher degree of sitting in the canter with her, and I think she is understanding that and relaxing in it much better.
So today I talked with Jen about how I want to find that sitting more in the trot. Flow has a very fancy front leg in everything that she does. It’s part of what makes her a beautiful mover. But it’s also a version of front-wheel drive, and I need rear-wheel drive. I noticed in my video from the other day that see looks very “fancy” in the trot work, but her big front leg is pulling her away from her hind legs, and the result is less degree of bend in the joints of her hind legs. And because she’s always willing to go, she’s a very energetic horse, just getting after her for more power from her hind legs doesn’t seem to be the answer. We have to get her to sit down more and build a strong bridge of her back underneath me. This results in more suspension but actually less front leg action. Which is more than fine, because we have plenty of front leg 😉
What was interesting today was how we found the better bridge in trot. Jen has discovered that if we don’t get it out of a transition either up to trot (from halt or walk) or down to trot (from canter) we can’t usually get it searching around within the trot. It’s like she has to make the first step correct, or she won’t ever find it. Canter to trot has always been a hard transition for Flowy, because her canter is so big, and it’s so easy for her to “splat” in it. But today she did a really super one from the right lead down to trot which resulted in the best collected, swingy, suspended, sitting trot I’ve felt. And I kept it for much longer. It’s so tempting for me to be greedy, because when I find that trot, it is so amazing, and I want to stay in it forever.
I also want to take a moment to say how grateful I am for this experience. It’s been so much fun to watch my students learn as well. Stacey has been doing such a wonderful job in her lessons, and she has been soaking up every moment down here. She watches every other lesson, takes videos and pictures, asks questions. It’s so exciting how being in a setting like this can help people learn in so many different ways. Of course, Stacey has her lessons with Jen, and those are fantastic. But then she gets to watch all these different horses go with me and hear all the discussions about the training. And then we also get to watch lessons like Lehua Custer’s with Debbie McDonald. And watch Jen ride her top FEI horse, Handsome, each day. And then Stacey can watch the video of her own lesson in the afternoons. Especially when someone is a visual learner, like Stacey, this is so incredibly valuable. Watching top riders on video at home is great, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person. And being able to feast your eyes on really good riding every day, like we’re seeing down here, improves your own riding almost through osmosis. It’s exactly what I was hoping for, both for myself, and my students who are lucky enough to be here. On top of all that, I am so lucky to have Stacey with me – she is a great cook, my children adore her, and she even babysat one night, so my husband and I could go on a date!! Doesn’t get more dedicated than that 🤣