We are squeezing every last drop out of this trip! Today is officially our last full day. The shipper will come tomorrow at 7am to pick up the girls. My husband, kids, and mother-in-law all left Wednesday morning at the crack of dawn to fly home. I miss them terribly, but I’m glad to be able to devote this time to getting everything done and packed. We had to move out of our rental house Wednesday, so Jen is housing us these last few days.
I’ve had more great lessons, and I am really happy with how all the mares are going. Yesterday Charlotte Bredahl came to watch Flow go, and give Jen and me her opinion. It was really wonderful to have her input. She is now the USEF Developing Coach for dressage. She is also an international judge. I first met Charlotte when she led the Young Rider International Dream Trip, organized and funded by TDF, when I was 20. I was lucky enough to get a spot on that trip, and it was an absolutely amazing experience.
Charlotte like Flow a lot, and she wanted me to focus on keeping her even straighter – not allowing her haunches to slip left when tracking left. And using my inside leg closer to the girth to keep her inside hind leg jumping actively under her center of gravity in the pirouette work. Flow can sit quite well, especially in the canter, but the hind legs get a little slow. So she wanted me to focus on making the strides small, but not the pirouette small yet.
At the end we worked a little bit on the piaffe. She has a different approach, not liking to do it from the walk, only from the trot. Her reasoning for this is: 1. The walk is so easy to screw up, and we don’t want to make the walk nervous. 2. They need to want to go forward out of the piaffe, and going back into a regular collected trot keeps that forward momentum better. 3. It makes it easier and less stressful for most horses to just think of it as making the trot smaller and smaller. She wanted me to bring the trot back and then really bring it on the spot for just a couple steps, and then go right back out. At first I was keeping it too forward, which doesn’t make her sit enough. None of this is new, and Flow already has a good start to the piaffe, but this was a different technique I hadn’t fully tried with her. It was very easy for her, and she stayed super relaxed. I’m so grateful to Charlotte for taking the time to come see her. She is going to be amazing in this new role as developing coach. She is such a nice person, and has such a good eye, both as a trainer and a judge. She is really excited to go out and see horse and rider combinations that might be a little under the radar, just like Flow. And that can only make our country stronger in dressage – making sure some good horses and riders are on the right path, and have a good plan in place for the future.
I also worked again with Claudia Oliveira with three horses, and it was great to see the progression from the first time. He worked with Blush, Lily, and Frieda. Blush didn’t go last time, so she was learning his system for the first time, like the other ones last time. She did well, though, and he thought she had a super talent for piaffe, since she has such an incredibly active hind legs, and she’s smart as a whip! Lily and Frieda did much better this time, really understanding that he wanted them to pick and hold each hind leg up, and really ground the other hind leg.
I’ve been having great rides on the other girls too, and more lessons on our last day, so stay tuned for another update tomorrow!