After the summer academy, we travelled another day up to Sweden, to the home of Christofer and Rebecca Dahlgren. It is beautiful up here in Hallekis, and I am glad my family is here too to enjoy a little vacation time at the same time.
Yesterday and today, I had lessons with both trainers in the AAoR and the liberty work with Valentino.
My main goal was to discuss with Christofer how to address the issue with Valentino's hind legs (they are stiff and weak and need to become more bendable to make riding comfortable for the both of us, but how do I bend them without straining his knees?). With Rebecca, I want to confirm the liberty ground work and make a start in the riding without bridle.
In the first lesson with Christofer we focussed on getting Valentino off the outside shoulder by making the circle smaller in travers on the longe. Important is with Valentino to keep the tempo very slow so he doesn't start to push. The second pointer I got is to make V. more responsible for his own gaits: working on a bigger circle on which he can keep the canter in a relaxed 3beat.
The collected work we have been doing along the wall was OK and we will continue to develop it into piaffe and into transitions more forwards.
Rebecca finally convinced me to go for a stick with a string attached. The 2nd day and lesson, Valentino started to respond instead of react to the string and I experienced the calming effect the string can have on the horse. In this lesson, we added another new exercise for me and Valentino; to sling the string around his chest to catch the shoulder. I feel like a true cowgirl doing it, but we both enjoy it!
The 2nd lessons with Christofer went already much easier with getting V. off the outside shoulder. Along the wall we focussed on making transitions from collected walk to a fwd trot and back without V. falling into my hand. The goal is to release his energy by increasing my own and not by using a stick to activate his hind legs. The aim is not to get maximum bending of his haunches, as this is very difficult with his hind legs, but to keep the roundness in his upper line in all gaits and transitions.
We look fwd to tomorrow!
I like to share my thoughts on the Art of Riding with you here. Topics related to training and keeping horses and reports of my own experiences you can find here. Enjoy!