I had the most amazing day today! I went for a lesson on an Andalusian schoolmaster not too far from here. His owner has 10 Andalusians and Lusitanos and is an accredited Centered Riding Instructor. She does displays with them for charity and is lovely abd great fun. One of the first things she said to me is that people take riding too seriously and forget to have fun, which is what I'm always telling people too.
The schoolmaster I rode fulfilled many of my dreams all in one go. He is an Andalusian stallion, called Henry, and he has paces to die for! His trot is like floating on air and his canter is just wonderful - so much lift in his stride and it almost felt like slow motion.
I had a lunge lesson to work on my position and I expected to feel a bit insecure as it's ages since I rode without stirrups, plus I'm used to a suede seat and this was slippy leather, but I was very pleased to find that when I slipped a little my muscles automatically pulled me back into centre, without me having to think about it at all, and I felt as safe as houses. Henry was also a big help as his paces are so smooth.
Caroline told me that I'm always in too much of a hurry (something I know that I'm guilty of) and need to slow everything down, just think about what I want the horse to do, then wait and trust him to do it, and that the lazier the horse is the less I should do. It worked wonderfully with Henry, who was not over-enthusiastic about lunge lessons(completely understandably)and walk trot transitions became effortless (so much so that I did accuse Caroline of aiding from the ground but she assured me that she wasn't) and we even managed some walk to canters!
She also told me that I need to stop using my muscles to move my seatbones and let the horse move them for me. I hadn't realised that I was doing that but she was right and it felt much better when I did as she said. She got my legs a lot more stretched and wrapped around the horse and told me that I need to feel as though I'm sitting more on the back of my seatbones to get me more upright, and that definately did work (I lost the sense of where upright is a long time ago and am still trying to find it again when I'm on the ground too!
Then my biggest dream come true - I was allowed to try some Passage on Henry! Caroline trains it from Spanish Walk and she got me to try my normal position, then the "more to the back of the seatbones" position, and the difference it made to the height of Henry's steps in Spanish Walk was amazing! Proof if I needed it that she was spot on!
I stuck to the new improved position and we both asked for Passage and it was fantastic!!!! Very difficult to sit, as you'll see from the video, but the height and power were awesome! It was everything I thought it would be and more! Caroline said that it's her favourite movement too.
I came home walking on air and tried out my new way of aiding transitions on Bella and she responded brilliantly. I've also noticed some very big, slow trot strides happening occasionally just lately and I now know that she's heading gradually towards Passage. Caroline told me to try it in hand, from Spanish Walk, doing it myself and waiting for her to copy me, trusting that if I stick with it then it will happen, so that's the plan!
Mike is going to have a lunge lesson on Henry next time so he's in for a real treat - the sort not many novices get the chance of!
Here is the lovely Henry:
A very short bit of video. This was the second bit of Passage we tried and Henry did very well to concentrate as it was blowing a gale and the horses in the field next to the school kept taking off and galloping around like lunatics!!!
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