I had already paid up and scheduled my lessons last weekend and was so looking forward to some one on one instruction with Iggs. Until, of course, I got on Saturday morning to find him off at the trot. Like, WHY HORSES WHY.
Well, why is because we are in the middle of switching joint care (Equioxx to Adequan) and his delicate tootsies need front shoes. Good, no acute injuries, but now I had two paid for lessons and a horse who wasn’t going to go do all the things.
So, I had a dressage lesson at the walk. Sounds nice and easy, right? WRONG. It was stupidly hard because everything happens in slow motion and it let Kira focus on every tiny thing my body and leg was doing. We did a lot of change of pace within the walk, bending, and working on the transition between the medium walk-free walk-medium walk. The latter being a place that is so easy to give away points in a test. It was actually a great lesson, especially with riding such a new horse. It gave us a chance to slow everything down and figure each other out. There’s no reason (well, rider error) this horse shouldn’t be pulling in 8s and 9s on his walk work this year.
Kira also worked a lot on my leg – within 45 seconds she’d picked out my ongoing issues. Raising my heel to use my leg and turning my toe out: these shouldn’t sound new, because they aren’t. Did we magically solve them? Hah, no. BUT I did come away with a really good new way of thinking about the first one. Essentially, she explained to me that my raising my heel to use my leg is a result of my horse not being reactive enough to my aids. I’m having to raise it to add leg because he’s not listening to my “whisper”. And if I keep doing it, I’m essentially going to untrain my horse to notice that whisper and he’ll only listen to me raising my voice. Lightbulb moment.
Not in that I’m untraining him, but in that I was able to catch myself doing it so much faster. Instead of leg-raise heel-nag, it was ask quietly-ASK LOUDLY-get reaction.
We didn’t have quite the same breakthrough on my toes outward turn, but that’s no surprise. Caroline (Doc’s owner, old trainer) figured out years ago that comes from my hip flexors being tight. The only thing that’s going to solve that issue is stretching and long-term consistent work. It’s definitely gotten better, and hopefully will just continue to.
A super interesting thing was also not noticed with my leg (yes, I know that phrase makes no sense but hang with me here). For years, my lower leg has been too far back. “Push your leg forward, Holly” is a refrain I hear in my sleep.
Now if you’ll remember, I got my dressage saddle about four days before we retired Doc and my monoflap jump saddle is brand new (and potentially going to work this is an entire other post oh my god I cannot even anymore). And in talking to Kira, we realized that in both saddles… my leg was never out of place. At least in the sense of going too far back. Fascinating stuff.
Which leads me to wondering if my “perfect fit for me” County Conquest was actually somehow shoving my leg out behind me.
It’s long sold and off to a great new home, but it’s definitely left me thinking – did I spend two years fighting my saddle without even realizing it?