The one thing that I am constantly reminded of on this dressage journey is that the more advanced we get, the more it is about the basics. And that really perfecting the simple things — basic transitions, for example — makes everything else so. much. easier.
I’ve been riding rather inconsistently lately due to an ongoing upper respiratory cold. The kids and I have been sick and we’re finally getting over it. While its been a really wet spring, its also been on the warm side, which makes getting out to the barn a little more pleasant. Generally speaking, its too wet to ride outside though, which is the only bummer. We need about a week of good warm sunshine-filled days to dry up the outdoor enough to ride. I don’t know if that is in our future any time soon.
Today, right before I went to the barn, I watched this video a couple times. It is of Jo Hinnemann teaching a lesson and working on trot/canter/trot transitions.
After watching this, I was excited to work on these transitions myself. Isn’t that how it always is? I’m inspired to ride better by watching really good rides. Anyhow, Jewel was quite full of herself today and not really paying attention or standing quietly, so we started with lunge work in sliding sidereins. Walk/Trot/Canter and spirals-in/out. This helped bring her brain back to work and she paid much more attention when we started than had I tried to ride through that. It doesn’t help that its March, which I call “Mare Madness” month. She’s always a bit crazy this time of year. Always.
Anyhow, after some under saddle walk work, we progressed to w-t transitions and then the trot-canter transitions. While I had always thought that I was doing these, I realized that I was giving too much time (too many strides) between transitions. Today, I focused on getting good transitions every couple of canter strides. Its harder than it looks! But Jewel did well. For the most part, the upward transitions felt fairly effortless and she got lighter the more that we did (to a point). The downwards transitions were also nice. However, I could tell that she needs about a thousand more of these because after 10 minutes or so (going both directions) she was tired and would brace more.
She is naturally stiffer to the right, so when we did these, I could feel her brace more when going that direction. Some of it is strength on her part and some of it is my weaknesses as well.
After using this exercise as a good warm-up, I also worked on stretchy circle at the trot, transitions within the trot and canter-walk transitions. I had printed off the 1-1 and 2-1 tests, but I forgot them at home, so a quick ride-through will have to wait for another day.