I missed my little blog and I'm having such fun with Tax right now. We're getting ready for a busy season. This is our first year of really being serious about some low level eventing. I've been taking dressage and jumping lessons and my riding is better than ever.
Dressage is helping me finally really understand what “feel” is when riding a horse. This weekend I got to ride Tax for the first time since my little breakthrough last weekend. Last weekend I got to see the dressage trainer ride him for the first time and it helped open my eyes about how to get him softer. He is still very stiff warming up but we worked on the exercises we did in my last lesson. Every time I felt him stiffen his jaw to resist I would take my inside rein up and in toward my belly button bending his body with my outside leg for a few steps. As soon as he softened I would give a bit with the inside rein and drive him forward. After a bit he felt softer and we got a couple of much nicer transitions. The we hopped over a few jumps and I could feel we were more connected through his whole body which improved his jumping too. The dressage trainer thinks that he's the kind of horse that it will take a little bit for the first level work to sink in but that it will be very easy to move him up to second level. Unlike a lot of TB's he's able to move up and down and I'm constantly working on the going forward part. This horse is going to be easy to teach to piaffe if I can ever get us there!
Then I got a chance to ride my friend’s horse, Lola. Lola is built very differently. Tax, even when not in a frame, feels flat at the worst to me. Lola can almost invert her neck so if you just try to pull her mouth to get a frame you end up with her head up and a bouncy pony trot. I tried the same technique with her and started to feel her round down and start to seek connection through the bit. What a lovely trusting feeling! Toward the end of riding her I could literally feel her back-end come under her. At a canter to the left I could feel her try to bulge her shoulder to the inside instead of going straight. Her owner had me try riding her with a counter-bend for a few strides to get her haunches underneath. Worked like a charm.
I also got to watch Angela ride Tax and his trot looked really lovely.
Figuring this stuff out is so much fun! It's almost Derby time again. Let's see if I can get it done without falling off this year.