Weekend dressage & being a BSJA ‘guinea pig’

I took Soap to a little prelim test on Sunday I had intended it as Jack’s 1st outing but I think he needs a few more weeks schooling until he will be ready. We got placed 5th which was nice, but the test was really under par for Soap and I. I think I got too anxious in the warm up about being accurate at the detriment of his paces. I came away with a rosette but feeling disappointed in my riding.
So not exactly brimming with self confidence on Monday I went to Catherston Stud to be a guinea pig for a BSJA coaches’ training day. We had 45mins coaching split between 2 coaches, Sebastian and Michael. They had some great exercises which really pin pointed and resolved all the issues we had on Sunday. It was just what the doctor ordered!
Sebastian started with a rising exercise to improve balance. He described the horse as a ball – sit with your weight too far forward and ball shoots out backwards underneath you, sit with too much backwards weight and the ball shoots out in front of you. We trotted a figure of 8 and instead of sitting twice to change leg we rose for 2. This then progressed to trotting around rising for 2 and sitting for 1 stride. This was great, and a really constructive exercise to establish your balance, and make your hands independent.

Michael then moved onto improving the paces and getting Soap to work more through from behind, without worrying too much about being on the bit. I had to concentrate on keeping my shoulders open, hands upright, and leg on in the transition back from trot to walk. Soap was fab and really beginning to swing. We then opened the canter up down the long side and it was fab, I could really feel him coming through with more power. My recurring problem is that I lighten my seat, which then loads and rounds my shoulders.

I think the exercises given will really help to eradicate my niggling little faults once and for all. I really hope Sebastian and Michael pass their training as they were great coaches. I have never had an experience of the BSJA and was very impressed with how polite, and efficient they were, so I have volunteered my guinea pig services for future clinics!

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