Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lellie Ward Clinic

Sunday, March 30, 2008
Today I rode with Lellie Ward in a lesson/clinic. It was great. It was exactly what I needed. We were scheduled to ride XC and ended up doing more flatwork, was perfect. Again, exactly what I needed.
When we were getting started she she asked about us and basically i told her my issues. Which are...keeping Fleck's attention on me instead of various things (ducks, other horses, etc) and the approach to the fence. She asked if he was a stopper or was he running out, etc. I basically said wasn't really either. It was more of me losing him multiple strides back - so it's more of an approach issue than a jump issue.
So we started with some theory talk which all made sense. She wants me to use my seat to connect to Fleck and tell him that it's time to get down to business and pay attention to ME!
It was great because we rode in the pasture which had other horses in it. So right from the get-go she got to see some of the issues with distractions. Fleck did the whole floaty trot with his tail up over his butt thing. So... we started with riding a square at the walk. Lellie said that if I didn't have a good walk, how could I expect a good trot!? Good point! So we spent awhile at the walk. She had us start out by riding a square, but I was to counterflex him and ask him to turn by putting his outside shoulder up and over his inside shoulder. This would make him step and reach OVER his front leg with the outside front leg. which loaded the inside hind by default. So....we did that at the walk, and after we finally figured it out we moved onto the trot. Only it was more of a western jig/jog...thinking along the lines of piaffe or passage but obviously it was more like a western jog for us. It was great. Really got Fleck thinking and working. Basically the point was to elevate the shoulders and make them malleable, as Fleck likes to dive down and pull me with him. And when he's down, I obviously can't move his shoulders and lose alot of control. So this meant that it was hard for Fleck both physically and mentally. And did he put on a stellar APPY performance! ohhhh, he was NAUGHTY!!! It was good though. Lellie said she didn't want us to be good because she couldn't fix our issues if we didn't have them. So it was a perfect example of what I needed/wanted her to see. One that he was totally giving me the finger and ignoring me and concentrating on other things (ie..ducks or whatever) and two..that when he gets to something hard, he throws his haunches out to evade it. oh, and then when we did get to jumping, he started to get long and flat as we came closer to the jumps, so... she got to see that too. so it was great! Everytime I left the corner or changed the gait, he started to bow out and get long (like when we jump). It was a perfect example of most of our issues kinda day.
But anyways... so we did the square thing at the walk and trot and fleck tried to avoid doing the hard work but stopping, hopping, throwing his haunches out, crow hopping, etc. At one point he even reared STRAIGHT UP and almost over...though, honestly, it probably wasn't that bad, but he almost never rears so it was exciting! Through it all Lellie was tough and strict but not mean. She kept saying that he wasn't being naughty per se, just trying to get away from having to do it and it was my job to not get mad but make him do it. But she also let me smack him and kick him when he sorta deserved it. It was great. she also kept calling him Spotty!, which cracked me up. And while she was strict and tough she wasn't mean or insulting and also told us when we were good. So we finally got the hang of it enough to do it at the canter. Which started a whole new slew of evasions ;) But it was good. so we spent about 45 minutes to an hour doing that. It was soooo what I needed. I was exhausted and sore and happy as a clam! Because I had signed up for a jump lesson, we decided to jump a bit. Though honestly, I would have been quite fine with not jumping as I felt what we did had been so helpful. We just jumped some tiny stuff, but as I said, it's not the jumps that are the issue, it's the approach. So it worked fine. We were definitely not pretty and we did a lot of circling (but the counterflex over the shouler circling) and Fleck was really starting to figure it out. He wasn't trying to avoid it nearly as much and almost was like...crap, fine, I'll do it. And we finished on a decent jump.

So yeah! It was a good good lesson and definitely what I needed. Though we were both pooped! She asked if I had been warned that she goes straight for the jugular and I told her yes, but that we forget to tell poor Fleck! Poor guy, he was tired too. After I untacked, it took him a good 15 minutes of standing there before he started to try to go eat grass!! And to prove we worked our butts off, we were sweating! And it was a very very cold April day. I think it was a windchill in the uppper 30's. Just a raw bitter windy gray day in Georgia.

So I'm all exciting about seeing how this changes our rides and to continue taking lessons with her. She's coming about once a month to the farm down the street so hopefully I can get some consistent work in and really start to see a difference!

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