Last night S busted out the Dressage Tests and we started our lesson by seeing where we were at with them. Truth be told I haven't run through a test since September so even though all components of our flatwork have improved dramatically, I haven't actually bothered to string them together in quite some time.
We opted for First Level Test 1 - which I like, but the extended canter tour was challenging for us last summer (FL2 is much, much more condensed and beneficial to our issues).
This isn't a perfect side by side comparison since last night I rode in the indoor which is a generous 15mx35m - a far cry from the correct 20x60 court...
The indoor is tight, which means that last summer I could barely execute the shallow trot loops in Training 3 without coming unglued, and smooshing in trot or canter lengthenings was all but impossible.
When I rode the test last night I felt much more in control and felt that Prairie was about a million times lighter in my hand. I wasnt' oblivious to the many flaws, and moments of tension, but it did feel better. At the end I even had a moment of "dammit, maybe we haven't actually gained that much ground" before I bothered to look at some video from last summer and realize that we have in fact improved drastically.
So without further ado, FL1 as ridden in a miniature arena on January 31st, 2013:
And for comparison and entertainment, FL1 as ridden at a schooling show last July:
Things that I notice:
The mare is less of a freight train.
We didn't scoot!
We can come back from canter lengthenings now
We have lighter transitions!
I can keep my butt in the saddle, and aren't getting rooted out of the tack!
Prairie is stepping under herself more. Not perfectly, and not always straight, but more.
My reins are still long. (UGH).
Pretty fun to compare the two videos! Nice to know that even when I'm (literally) going in circles, the hard work is starting to pay off...