Saturday was lesson day! I have recently started taking lessons with Mogie Bearden-Muller who moved to our area from California. She comes to my barn where a group of us get together for a day of lessons.
It was lightly raining but as I rode down to the ring on Dixie it had started to thunder and lightning was off in the distance. Did I mention how sensible Dixie is??? Massive storm with wind and sideways rain and he is just going along like he could care less.
She watched me warm him up in w/t/c and then brought me in to talk about him. She liked his balance and remarked that he was forward without rushing and for his limited training he already had a great way of carrying himself but we needed to again work on more connection. Of course the bend to the right is an issue so we were going to address that as well.
We started out walking a circle to the left and once again she talked about how I was a very soft rider but could really improve all my horses by taking a bit more connection and starting to establish a more uphill balance (I had been working on teaching dixie to stretch long and low across the back to open his stride). She is a believer in focusing on the hind end to create the larger stride and once you get the hind end working the back is going to have to work. Okay..different method but I am open to learning. Shorten the reins and add the leg. To the left he wants to over-bend so watch that with little half halts on the outside rein. Be careful to not let him walk out of the contact..meaning let them rush in the walk to evade having to come from behind. He was a bit pissy about the contact. I didn’t feel like I was at all tight but he was saying nope don’t understand. I was just patiently asking with the leg for him to step into the contact. He is smart and started to understand that I wasn’t going to let go and he then marched right into the contact. Of course we had to revisit the concept often but she was really tough on me to passively resist when he tried to yank me (one of his favorite evasions is to pull up with his mouth open) and just close the leg and a little sponge on the inside rein to ask for a bit of flexion. I find Dixie to be very mannerly when he is confused. I can almost feel him thinking and trying to figure out what I am asking him to do.
We basically did the same thing at the trot. By the time we started trotting it was pouring. Mogie was covered in a rain sheet and I had water just pouring off me. Dixie was just working like he had been doing this forever. Meanwhile, it’s thundering and we can still see the lighting in the distance. While going right he was very resistant to moving over in a bit of a leg yeild away from the inside leg. He wanted to throw his head up and say nope can’t move over. Can’t bend right. I kept asking and we got some really nice moments and some very soft bend.
Next we went to work on some jumping. She laid down 4 ground poles and we walked and then trotted through those just working on staying slow and relaxed. Then a 9ft pole, x-rail and I forget what the distance on the landing pole was. She wanted him to trot in and land cantering out stretching to meet the pole. He wants to be a bit short in the canter so that was the point of the pole was to stretch him out upon landing.
He does not really know where to put his parts yet so the focus was on me staying in the middle. I tend to jump ahead expecting a big jump when there isn’t one. Keep the trot nice and slow and do not do anything but just support with the leg off the ground and land centered and in balance. Despite the rain and slick ground he was 100% focused on the jumps and handled himself so well. We were all very impressed with how nice he is and how well he handles himself. She noticed something funny with his shoe and he had twisted his shoe. Oh well..it was a great lesson. Walked him back and got to use my shoe pulling tools again. Dixie got lots of treats 🙂
Dixie is for sale (although I admit I have not marketed him yet) so if anybody is looking for a super nice horse I believe he has great basics and is ready to move on now. I enjoy him so much I keep wanting to do more and more with him instead of selling him but the point of the program is to re-home the horses we have trained so we can have the funds to do the same thing for the rest of the horses who are donated to CANTER.