On the morning of the lesson neither Drifter nor I seemed in the best of moods and we didn’t seem to be communicating as well as we might. I was nervous, which manifested as things like worrying that the saddle was in the wrong place and taking if off again and putting it on again, which Drifter hates. He was picking up on my anxious energy and it was a windy day so he was a bit girraffey anyway. Eventually I got us both around to the indoor school a bit early to warm up and settle in, again watching for Lee’s car so if he did drive straight in I’d have Drifter in my control. I’d switched back to my crop but D was very giraffey even after 10 min, which was not what I wanted to see. Hey ho.
Lee arrived and stopped outside the school to greet staff and announce his arrival so we were able to briefly leave the school while he manouvered and parked in the corner. Then it was ear-piece on and down to business! We discussed the saddle and how I felt I’d got on and he had me carry on warming up.
He commented that I looked like I was riding much better than when he last saw me. This was obviously very pleasing :)
He asked me if I’d ever worked on riding from the back of the horse though to a contact to get them round and on the bit; if I’d ever had that on any horse. I told him that while people had tried to teach me that on riding school horses it hadn’t been something I felt I’d ever achieved and on D the focus of the teaching I’ve had was on getting stop, go, gears and steering working. So we worked on getting him soft and round and on the bit from the back end. It was hard work but when we got it we really got some lovely moments in walk and trot and some better-than-before moments in canter. We worked on circles, bigger and smaller, getting him to bend, soften and drop while keeping my mind more on what the back end was doing than on his neck. Whether I can replicate what we achieved without his voice in my ear telling me when to half halt; when to put more energy in, I don’t know. But I’m really proud of what we achieved.
I mentioned that Drifter’s not particularly good at respecting my rein aids and Lee suggested the “ask for more than you want” approach. If you’re finding he doesn’t respect trot to walk then practice trot to halt. If he doesn’t respect walk to halt, try walk to rein back. Here we had a brief interlude while he taught me how to have a go at a rein back, which I’ve only ever got by accident before. What we managed was as much sideways as backwards I have to say, but something to work on.
One of the take-home-tips … was to get and use a schooling whip rather than the crop! Doh! Lee thinks I need to be able to use one to activate the back end. I told him about the previous day’s adventure but he was having none of it, so I guess I’ll try again with it and D ought to get used to it over time.
Lee said some really nice things at various points and very much praised how I rode that day. He said he seemed more excited at how well I’d done than I did, but I was too busy riding my butt off to have room for assessing how I felt :D
All in all it was another completely wonderful confidence building lesson. And he didn’t even take the piss out of me too much :)
On the Saturday Lady-with-a-pony had a great lesson with him and came out with her confidence raised. Her daughter asked Lee for an autograph and a picture with him and he was very happy to oblige. I wasn’t there but apparently he seemed delighted to be asked and the photograph they got is absolutely wonderful. Both he and her daughter are very photogenic and when I saw the lovely picture I was jealous I didn’t have one like it!