So Far, So Good
My back is virtually pain-free today for the first time in weeks!! Yippee.
I still am taking it easy.
This morning, I dragged the riding arena for my lesson and then gave the lesson. My student rode her horse and her sister's horse for a half-lesson each. Neither horse is really fit after the long winter, so I tried to take it easy.
That's kind of hard, as the essentials of dressage do not come without work on horse and rider's part. I was really happy to see the first horse start to stretch round into the bit very quickly. He's not entirely steady yet, but I can tell all the work his rider did last season has paid off in a big way. He's a good solid quarterhorse with a simply lovely attitude and work ethic.
The second horse is a solid color paint...much like Chance colorwise but not at all like him bodywise. This guy is kind of lanky and gives the impression of some good athletic potential. He too seems to have a good disposition but not such a good work ethic. I suspect, however, that if he can learn to round his back he will be much happier under saddle. Right now he tends to go "upside down." My rider said, "He doesn't have a frame."
I kind of laughed at that. We did some basic "give to the bit" exercises just to let him know that dropping his head to the rein pressure was OK. Then we started some more demanding work--just asking him to soften at the trot.
The first problem was that he wouldn't trot forward. So, with his head up a bit, his balance was all over the place and he'd not only fall apart, he'd also fall in or out off the track. We decided then that the number one priority was a forward trot and then, and only then could we expect him to soften to the rein.
Sure enough, although it was not an easy task, he began to offer a few strides of basic on the bit as the lesson progressed. He looks to be a frustrating ride at the moment as far as that's concerned, but I reminded his rider that he was really just a baby about all of this and simply didn't understand.
When he did offer some good strides he really looked lovely. My student's mother was quite delighted when she was able to see the difference.
The only flaw in the whole plan is that my student's sister rides western and will want that soft little not so forward jog for now. Until he learns to use his back, it will be a balancing act between asking for the forward we need to get him to go on the bit, and developing his ability to collect properly for the western.
He is not the kind of horse that's going to master both at the same time and really needs that energy to learn to carry himself. Until he learns how to connect his hind end to the bit and use his body in one piece, it will be a little tricky. But there's plenty of potential there so I am hopeful it won't take too long.
Both horses are really sweet and "kid friendly." It's nice to see young riders with suitable mounts.