Today (Sunday) we had a clinic with Bobbie Paulk, who trains one of the instructors out at our barn. FuzzyPony and I rode together, since neither of us were going to survive an hour lesson on our own. Neither of us have ever met or ridden with her before, but she comes highly recommended so we signed up for the clinic. Warning: I went a little nuts posting video for this entry, because Ziggy's Dad was kind enough to take videos and pictures of the clinic. I will probably post the picts later, but for now, you get video. :)
We spent a LOT of time walking, especially doing voltes in both directions. I've never actually done voltes in riding before as part of my training or warm-up, so that was new and very useful. This volte right is kind of a mess, but you can see at the end he really steps up under himself with his right hind.
We also worked on soft halts, which went not so well. We'd start off nicely enough but then about 50% of the time he'd brace against me and dive down into the bridle. Need more leg, anyone? We also worked on the concept of "pushing the saddle forward" in the gaits when we wanted the horse to come round - it seems to be the same sort of motion you'd use if you were to tuck your hips under you, but it's a different visual, and I found it very useful.
I learned that I'm asking Saga to walk way too fast, and that I am in fact mangling his walk by doing so, especially when we're on a long rein. He sort of gets moving so fast that his walk loses quality and he start stumbling over his front end. You can kinda see it in this free walk - yeah it's big, but he's on his forehand and I need to put him together more.
A bit of collection using my seat fixes this immediately, so we worked a lot of collection through the seat at the walk. That was a big breakthrough for me. We also worked on some walk laterals, and in this video you can see he's starting to get the shoulder in to the right, which is a big deal for us. So it's not even or any kind of straight, but he's getting the concept of lateral (please, ignore my position - I was using a LOT of inside leg and need to be more subtle about it).
We actually didn't work too much on trot, but we worked on a steady rhythm and straightness and coming through the back. I was really bothered by the fact that Saga wasn't very forward, but Bobbie kept telling me that he was really coming through and sitting down, and what I was feeling was his shoulders come up and him being light in the front. Ummm-kay... looking at the videos I could definitely see that he did NOT look slow and pokey, so I guess I need to get used to that when riding instead of this big open trot that I keep trying to get. It just feels really sluggish, and like I am having to work very hard to keep him going. It's also different from what Greta, my adopted horse-mom, was telling me the last time I rode him for her, which was to get him moving really forward. Of course, there's a difference between forward and rushing, and I need to learn where Saga needs to be.
The big, huge moment was canter. To the right, our transition usually isn't that bad. To the left, it's usually a running-with-head-up disaster where we completely lose all position, balance, and any sense of grace we ever have... exactly like this:
Bobbie had me really collect him and ask for a short, bouncy trot, THEN ask for the left lead canter. And wouldn't you know, the left lead canter transition miraculously fixed itself. :)
So, all in all it was a wonderful clinic and I really learned a lot. I am hoping that Vanessa sets up more clinics with Bobbie because I really liked her teaching style and she worked well with both myself and FuzzyPony together. It will also help when Saga's more fit, of course, and we'll be able to do more then. But we've got plenty to work on for now!