Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dressage with Jessica Wisdom

Jessica and Welsh Cob stallion Cardi showing Jasper the ocean was not going to kill him back in 2010.
Photo by Carolynn Bunch

In 2010, when Jasper was 4 turning 5, I did a working student stint with Jessica Wisdom.  I had seen her teach in clinics in Spokane and totally clicked with the way she taught, but couldn't afford to ride with her.  I wanted to get Jasper's formal training off to a good start with correct basics.  She needed a groom to go down to California with her and then a working student for a couple of months at her barn in Yelm, WA.  Life circumstances allowed me to do this, and in exchange I got about 5 lessons a week on Jasper.

Two months of dressage lessons paid off when we went to Aspen Farms and won the dressage phase at our first 3-Day-Event.  Since then I haven't had a dressage lesson.  Actually I can count the number of lessons I've had on one hand.  I decided it was time to get with it again, so when she came to town last month I rode with her.

I will not bore you to with the 45 minute video of our ride as watching dressage is kind of like watching paint dry.  Here are some of the highlights:

"Bring the whole forehand to the center as a unit when circling.  C-shaped from nose to tail."

"Keep thinking shoulder fore"

"Don't let him splat..."

"I'm looking for a weapon (crop)"

"The left rein is not sacrilege, you can use it but then let it go."

"Even on the straight you need that slight bit of bend of shoulder fore to keep him balanced and onto your outside rein."

"...coiling his power and expanding that trot a little bit."

"He doesn't use as much freedom as he has in his body.  He trots for a "6" when I think he could trot for a "7" or an "8" now."

"Working from compression to lengthening.  Everything feels right right now, could I power this up a little bit?"

"You post BIGGER.  You post like he is FANCIER.  POST!"

"Ride him fancier!  Tap, tap, tap..."

"When you feel like he's pulling on your left rein is when he's not moving off your left leg sufficiently and you feel you have to upright him with your left rein."

"Just say, I'm not holding you any more pal and you're shit on your own bud."

"...as long as he is not behind the bit.  If the poll is a little bit low it's not the end of the world it's just a little bit like stretchy circle.  If that gives him more freedom over his back, which it may, then use that.  Then bring the poll up."

"Pressure him.  Make him step three inches bigger."

"When you get to the show ring the poll should be the highest point.  That being said, put his fricking poll down and show lengthening.  So it's a little lower than ideal but if you show lengthening that's going to be better than the poll staying up and him running like a chicken."

"Teach him that like a party trick."

"He's not built for a super spectacular extended trot.  To a certain extent you're going to have to manufacture the mechanic, and then it will become natural to him.  And then sell it to me... yeah, he totally did this all on his own, it's totally natural to him."

Thanks to Sharon Uhder for videoing!

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