It’s always interesting having a lesson with someone new; they often see different things to your regular trainer. Today’s was no exception.

Having explained our back story and our aims (novice – improving medium trot, canter-trot-canter transitions), we warmed up.

New RI observed that I am nagging to keep Abbey forward particularly with my left leg.  Which means she’s in danger of switching off to my leg aids. It also means that I’ve nothing left to ask for medium trot.

She’s trots without nagging but it’s half-hearted. She’s also half-hearted with transitions, which means she’s not having to use her hind end to balance as she comes down (forward!) from trot to walk.  By allowing her to have baby steps throughout the trot-walk transition and ‘rev-up’ to the trot in a walk-trot transition, she’s not having push herself forward with her hind end.

Simple walk-trot/trot-walk transitions were the first exercise. For the walk-trot transitions I asked with my leg, then took my legs off and let them hang long (heels down!). If Abbey didn’t go into an active trot or trotted at all, I gave her a small kick (and if I still didn’t get enough of a response a bigger kick).

Similarly if Abbey didn’t go forward into an active walk from trot, then I asked with my legs, and took them off.

Next we did spirals in trot. To come in and out, Abbey has to use her back so by doing this exercise she’s building strength and suppleness. My biggest error here is taking my leg back from the knee and not the hip, which means my heels come up and I’m in danger of loosing my stirrups.

I am stiff through my hips but am doing various exercises out of the saddle (see here). In the meantime I will work on these spirals concentrating as much on me as Abbey.

The new RI built on the spirals by adding transitions.  So spiraling in and forwarding to to walk, spiraling out and going up to trot. I found it difficult to co-ordinate my body…..outside leg back and ‘on’ (from the hip not the knee!) to ask Abbey to come in, keep the leg back but take it off, then downwards transition. To spiral out, inside leg back and ‘on’ to ask her to move out, keep the leg back but not ‘on’, then both legs ‘on’ to ask for trot, then take the legs off but still keeping the inside leg back.

Phew! Brain and body need to learn a new level of concentration for this one!

Then we did the spirals in canter. As well as the moving my legs back from my hips and not my knees, I also need to watch Abbey doesn’t loose ‘forward’ when the circle gets small and she has to use her inside hind. I also need to watch for too much inside bend on the right rein. (There are two reasons for this, either I’m not holding the outside, or I’m using too much inside rein…I suspect I’m doing a bit of both!)