We trundled off this evening for our dressage lesson with Sara-Jane Lanning. I have a couple of Rockley friends who have had sessions with her and she comes incredibly highly recommended so I was both excited and a bit nervous! My dressage background is rubbish - it has always been the bit I had to get through to get to the fun stuff - and I have never competed above Novice level so I am a million miles away from being a dressage diva. However, I have started to enjoy it more since having Buddy (I do think winning frillies helps - I know how bad that sounds) and he definitely has the ability to go way beyond Novice level and I would like to teach him to do some of the more advanced movements down the line. I also have another motive - if I want to get to Badminton then my dressage has to be in the low 20's - if it's not I've got no hope of being competitive so this is the first step to improving our marks.
I filled SJL in on our background and we had a walk and a trot around but as soon as I went on the left rein I thought 'he just doesn't feel right'.. not lame but not right. I stopped and said to SJL that I thought I'd have to stop as he didn't feel 100%. She said she'd seen it and he wasn't lame but he was stiff through his body so she asked me to take up more inside bend and move him out on the circle. It made a huge difference and he felt a million times better. She then said I had 'lazy legs' and was stifling Buddy's movement as my seat was driving him all the time and making his back dip away. Naughty Mummy. So I sat still and asked with my legs only which made an immediate improvement and meant he had a huge over track in walk. I then had to keep the same thing in trot and the hardest bit was maintaining the correct bends and riding each rein differently. SJL said his 'normal' trot would earn him a 7 (which he does tend to get) but the improved trot would be more 8/9 so I will be aiming for that on Sunday ;o)
Then onto canter. SJL really liked his movement but I must remember to keep him straight on the right rein and keep some inside bend and a supportive outside leg on the left rein. Once I got this there was a huge improvement and he felt lovely. We also worked on our downwards transitions, I find these really hard and haven't been able to improve them on my own but SJL said my problem is that B is too obedient so I don't have time to ride into the transition. She showed me what she meant and then B and I had a go - when I got it right it felt brilliant so lots of practise required!
SJL gave me some lovely feedback, she says I have good feel and Buddy is a lovely genuine horse and he has got really good movement. She did make me laugh though as she said the first thing she though when she say Buddy was 'gosh - he's got big ears'!!! I did say his nickname is 'donkey' for that very reason. She made such a huge improvement in us from very small changes (and it works really nicely with the way Warren teaches too which is very important) so we will definitely be going back again soon for another session.
Sorry for no pictures but there will be video tomorrow as I'm having my lesson recorded. I am really looking forward to it!!