Today was the GDCTA Kudzu Clinic with Hokan Thorne. I signed up because who wouldn't not want a $20 dressage lesson! Plus I had been wanting to ride with him anyways. I've liked the horses I've seen him work with and their way of going. So yay! Of course it was cold and windy today. Really windy!! We got ready and went to warm up. The sprinklers were going and the wind was whipping and Fleck was... up! But of course he settled in pretty nicely and went to work once I went to work.
Basically Hokan had us working on ROUND and Through! He said that he was braced underneath and he needed to be round always until it was easier for him. He had me ride him deeper and lower and longer until his back engaged and he started to supple at the poll. Flexion is through the pole, bend is through the ribcage and body. He said that I should never pull back on the reins, but instead lead. Like a dance partner. I could use an opening rein to guide him into flexion. And to be careful that he didn't cheat by turning his whole neck.. we just needed him to flex at the poll. And I had to keep my hands on the reins. In a fist... not open like I was playing the piano. Fleck needed to feel a connection to be able to be ridden into the connection. So first... connection with my hands, then flexion at the poll, then round and supple over his back, and last forward with the hind limbs. Not running, but forward and using the hiney.
It was good stuff... Nothing ground breaking and we pretty much went back to the basics, but Fleck felt pretty good and was snorting at the end. It was basically lots of long and low but when I lifted up with my hands and down with my elbows and opened the rein, he would actually flex at the poll. And at the end, his back came up and he got swingy. I did feel like my reins were a bit long and we were going back to the training level frame. It wasn't a true long and low, but close to it in feel. (At least from my view point). But Hokan pointed out that he couldn't come up until he was round and through.
I also got a great walk! I'm not sure if it was the solid connection or the fact that I rode with my whip and tickled him on occasion, but it was probably our best walk yet! I however, need to learn to sit up and ride like a dressage rider and not perch. I'm good at the canter but still get perchy and rushy when we trot.
So... a good day! I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind riding with him again. Fleck was a good boy. Now... on to Buck tomorrow morning!!! Where it will be even colder!! But hopefully less windy. :)