Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stephen Bradley and Linda Zang Lessons

Last week Soonie and I went to our awesome trainer's place and had our second lesson with Stephen Bradley.  I love working with Stephen, his input is so on point, clear, and concise.  He's also perfectly pleasant and patient, as we learned this time out.  Soon had a lot of difficulty with the Liverpool - we had jumped it before, but it wasn't unfolded. 

Impressed with the folded Liverpool back in April
Yeah...Stephen started unfolding the Liverpool and having us trot over it, and Soon promptly checked his brain at the door and came unglued. 

Actual footage of Soon approaching the Liverpool

There was some minor drama with some quick, borderline dirty stops.  Soon actually got me off when he stopped dirty (after he had already jumped it!!), but I just jumped off and landed on my feet, no big deal.  At one point I was having to canter down to it one-handed, driving him forward, with my free hand ready to hit him with the bat at the slightest twitch.  Stephen was incredibly patient and took his time. We got Soonie over it each direction, at different heights, and he got to the point where he rode pretty normally to it.  We did broken lines to/from it and he didn't use that as an excuse to be silly.  The rest of the lesson was great - Bubba was jumping well, soft, and our new approach of soft hand and supporting leg to the jumps to assist with distances is still working beautifully.  I was disappointed to have such a meltdown over the Liverpool, but I'm glad Stephen was there.  He said "it was a discussion that needed to happen, and maybe from time to time you need to have that discussion with him, so that he knows to stay in front of your leg and just go."  Fair enough.

In other news..

This past Thursday we went to a nearby, beautiful private farm for our second lesson with dressage guru, Linda Zang.

Yep that's Linda Zang in the USDF Hall of Fame
Soonie was such a star.  We had ridden with Linda back in October, and it was extremely productive despite some tension.  This time Bubba was much more relaxed thanks to the short trip and very quiet atmosphere.  He was completely quiet and zero drama, and I was happy to see the seasoned veteran come out again.  He warmed up well and was getting to nice places much faster.  Linda was very complimentary, and we started focusing more on getting him to move through his shoulder more.  We warmed up with lots of changes of directions at the trot.  Then we did walking turns on the forehand to get him to step under with the inside hind and move the haunches some more.  We then did a canter transition out of the turn, and did canter leg yields off the wall. 

We got to some lovely places and he was soft, light, and felt much more through.  Linda was very complimentary, and once again I go home with some easy exercises to replicate what she taught me.  Once again, some of the greatest horsemen are great because they know how to keep things simple.  I will never fail to be amazed and how well horses and riders transform and improve with a session with Linda.  I can't wait to ride with her again!

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