Thursday, September 6, 2012

With Bells On

We arrived with no time to spare for our lesson with Lurena Bell at Belle Terre Farm today.  I pulled in, let the dogs pee, got the big guy off the trailer, tied him to the side, whipped his tack on and marched to the arena to go right into our lesson.  He handled it like the experienced, laid back champ that he is in a workmanlike yet relaxed style.

Transitions-- within gaits and paces and between gaits-- were our focus to begin the lesson.  On a six loop serpentine width of the arena Lurena reminded me that I, not Rijkens, choose the trot I desire.  In shoulder in I am to keep my position to aid but my leg hangs down.  If I feel the need to urge or kick or ad spur, then Rijkens earns a tap with the whip.

"The littlest canter ever" was practiced by Rijkens, where I really sat him down into a very collected canter.  If he broke to a walk that was just an excuse to school walk to canter transitions.  If he tried to convince me to use more driving leg he earned a visit from the riding stick.  From "littlest canter" we would go to a few extra-forward steps (not really medium canter but thinking that way) back to a few littlest canter steps, and back-and-forth; up to six or more times on the long side or three times on the short side.  Muchas transitions.

Again in half pass I positioned my aids but allowed my legs to hang.  If I felt I had to push with my leg Lurena said I should actually take my leg completely off by hinging it away from Rijkens, then crack his rib, once.  Then he decided "Oh you mean really I need to be moving sideways? OK."

In canter half pass Lurena explained that unlike in trot half pass where the horse sweeps sideways, the horse rather makes a series of single jumps sideways in each canter stride.  In schooling I am allowed to make the half pass (in trot or canter) "messy" by asking for extra bend and being very quick in the gives.

It was especially obvious that I need to be vigilant in being quick to soften on the left rein, whether it is the inside or outside rein.  Also I must allow my right leg to hang down and even swing my leg away from Rijkens' body, or use the whip, rather than be tempted to nag with constant small driving leg aids.  As Lurena reminded me, I will reserve my leg aids for Grand Prix when I really need them for things like piaffe and passage.  Otherwise my legs should be quietly hanging; it is Rijkens job not only to carry me, but to travel in self carriage as well.

A hard day's work earns a relaxing grazing session back at home.