In case you missed it, click here to read part two of Emma Takes on Florida.
In my lessons this week we focused on in hand work. In hand work is just as important as mounted work because you can do all the same exercises as with flatwork, yet be able to catch errors you wouldn’t if you were riding. I corrected Brumby multiple times in my lesson, and I realized that if I were on her back, I never would’ve caught her making these mistakes. For example, Brumby would start to get lazy with her inside shoulder, and then I would have to hold it up for her with my inside rein. Doing this fatigued my arm quickly, so once I realized what was happening, we’d circle and I’d get Brumby to go on the outside side-rein and not lean on me. I only did simple stuff, slowing and lengthening her walk, slowing and lengthening her trot, leg yields, and shoulder in. In hand isn’t only useful for riding work, but you can teach ground manners that way too. Brumby has been more aware of my personal space since we’ve started doing in hand work. It’s also a great cardio workout as you have to walk and trot beside your horse, shoulders back, holding your body and your core upright and very tight.
Part of learning to ride really well is watching other people ride. This week, Meghan and I took her two FEI horses to visit Svetlana Gorski. Svetlana has her USDF Silver Medal and is halfway to her Gold. Svetlana has had training through the Russian riding system, which was super cool to audit. She pays a lot of attention to detail, and she’s very calm. She helped Meghan work some kinks out with her Prix St. George horse, Fokuss. Not many mistakes get by Svetlana, so Meghan worked on corner preparation for shoulder in and flying changes. Corners are important because you can use them to set yourself and your horse up for the next movement. Svetlana also helped tune up Meghan’s Intermedaire 2 horse, Jasper. Jasper’s lesson was fascinating to watch because they went through all the Grand Prix movements except for passage. Like Brumby, Jasper is not a traditional dressage horse. He’s a Paint, so it’s incredible to watch him do pirouettes, changes, piaffe, and half-passes. It will be fun to watch the progress as we plan to visit Svetlana weekly for the rest of our trip and I’ll take a lesson or two with her as well.
Brumby in her flysheet.
We’re at the halfway point of our time in Florida and Meghan flew home to Maryland to teach the students she has there over the weekend. That left my mom and me to care for her three horses, 2 dogs and Brumby. I arrived at the barn every morning at 6:30 to feed and start the stalls. After the morning chores were done, we would hand walk the horses for 30 minutes, letting them graze and just spending time with each of them. Around noon I would put in a couple hours of homework and then turn the horses out and do stalls again. My mom brought dinner to the barn every evening so we could spend time with the dogs and then do the final walk thru in the evening, making sure everyone had plenty of hay and water and blanketing them if the temperature was dropping. Even in Florida it gets cool at night for clipped horses. The days are long but I love the work!