Multiple Lessons Are a Springboard to Overall Improvement

Multiple Lessons Are a Springboard to Overall Improvement

By Ann Byerley

Throughout the month of February, I used my SEDA Scholarship to ride with Linda Strine. Since Ms. Linda spends the winters training her horses in Franklinton, Louisiana, I thought it would be beneficial for my horse and me to take a few lessons. 

Within the past year, I have been more focused on Dressage and competing on Alex Varsico’s horse, Chad. Together we have improved significantly, but as a pair, we still had areas that needed improvement, and Ms. Linda has helped further that training. With the scholarship money, I was able to take three lessons with Ms. Linda. 

My first lesson started with Chad being his usual stiff self which warranted Ms. Linda getting on him to figure out where corrections were needed. Once Chad was given back to me, he was like a whole new horse. It was my turn to figure out how to make Chad feel this way all the time. Ms. Linda helped me with the positioning of my legs, hands, and arms which allowed Chad to feel more free and willing to move. Although still reluctant to perform at a top quality, Ms. Linda was immediately able to pick up on Chad’s defensive side through all his years of being a school horse. Moving on to work on leg yields and trot loops seemed to unlock Chad’s inner dressage self. 

The first lesson was a fantastic start on a new path to finding suppleness and bend, and we were able to show this improvement in the February Amen Corner Schooling Show. Ms. Linda was able to watch some of my rides which helped her to know the areas that Chad and I still needed help. In a second lesson we were able to work more on leg yields, trot lengthens, and balanced canter work, all of which were areas of weakness in our dressage tests. 

In this second lesson, Ms. Linda picked up on my overactive right hand which affected my ability to get correct bend when needed and straightness on the long sides. Correcting this problem allowed us to work on my leg yields which improved significantly by the end of the lesson. Ms. Linda also implored a new technique, stretchy circles before a lengthening, which allowed Chad to stay more through his back and show a greater lengthening. 

By the time the third lesson came, I was able to ride through First Level test three while Ms. Linda made critiques along the way. This helped me to know what a judge is looking for when Chad and I are showing.  

In the past month, I have been able to benefit greatly from my lessons with Ms. Linda, and I appreciate her patience and positive ways of teaching. I hope this new found key to success will carry into the show ring. I would like to thank SEDA for choosing me for the scholarship and giving me this opportunity.  

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