Apr 2 / kimberlygodwinclark@gmail.com Brilliance

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I had a dressage lesson yesterday with my dressage instructor, Elizabeth Madlener. This was the day after cross country schooling at Morven Park over the Training Level course. I know what you’re thinking. What did you do that for? Well they say, good event horses have a tough time with the dressage partly because they want to focus on jumping and I think a dressage day after is like a return to planet earth.

Birdie may have been a little tired, but a nice relaxing dressage lesson should help work out the kinks. My last lesson was the best I’ve ever had. I rode well and he was a star.
We always start by longeing him and on this day he was rhythmic, balanced and relaxed. I got on him and he came on the bit, then came off, several times. It’s not going well. Maybe he’s tired, maybe I’m tired.

Since I got Birdie he’s had a very inverted frame. I’ve worked hard to get him to a point where he doesn’t carry his head up in my face. I’m proud of the fact that his head has come down so much, but I’ve never been able to do a free walk with him. He gets tense and scurries off. I just thought I would never be able to do this with him, or at least it would be a very long time.
So Elizabeth sees that our lesson plan isn’t going to happen. She also sees what he really needs and begins to work on that. By the time I left that lesson, Birdie was doing a free walk on a long rein. His head was a foot from the ground. He was so relaxed he acted almost drunk. When I got off of him he just stood there. Totally relaxed, like jello.

This type of thing has happened before with Elizabeth. I arrive there and she has a lesson plan. She sees that’s not going to happen today. Instead of having a day where nothing is accomplished, she reads the horse and we work on exactly what he needs and is ready to learn that day. I never thought Birdie would be that relaxed and do such a beautiful free walk. It’s a long way from a show, but it’s an even longer way from where we were on Monday.

To me, this is a brilliant instructor. I’ve never had an unproductive lesson with her. My horse always leaves better than when he arrived. We always have progress.