Riding for Paolo Bastos

For a while now I’ve been hearing about this great trainer that makes magic, training horses and riders. When a possibility to ride a lesson for him turned up I naturally took the chance.

The lesson started right on time, something very unusual when dealing with horses. We started with an exercise where Nemah was to go really, really slowly. Much more slowly than she would choose if it was up to her. This might sound easy, but for Nemah this was really hard. What Paolo was after was to get Nemah to put more weight on her hind quarters and stop using my hands as a fifth leg. He also wanted her to relax and stop fighting with my hands and put her head in the air every time I wanted her to go slower. After a while we got the hang of it and got to try the same in trot. It was hard work but I think we did quite ok. Nemah started to feel more relaxed, lowering her head and starting to accept my aids. When this worked I got to start letting her go more forward, but only so far as I could control and that she did not start using my hands as a leg again. When she did we went back to trotting really slowly. We worked with this for a while until Paolo was feeling happy with us. We then got a break.

The break was followed by more work in walk on the circle. We tried doing leg-yielding on a small circle towards a larger one. This of course put more of my problems as a rider out in the open. I have a really annoying outside hand. It lives its own life and the more I try to ride, the more it does exactly what it’s not supposed to do. I also put my weight on the wrong side of Nemah, making it harder for her to do what I want her to. It also showed Nemah’s weaknesses. She likes to put her wither out and just walk away instead of actually crossing her legs. I got the instruction to let my hands be wider apart and not to raise my outside hand. I also needed to let the outside hand stay on it’s side of the withers.

The lesson was over before it even begun and I regret not taking a full 45 minute lesson, instead of my short 30 minutes.

In hindsight I feel that Paolo definitely found a couple of things I need to fix with my riding. Most of the things however, was things I already knew. He was the first trainer that seemed to have an issue with my bitless bridle, even thought I told him the reasons why I use it. From his point of view it was harder to make Nemah do what I wanted and also to get her to relax. I am not sure I agree with that.

It felt good to get yet another view on how to train Nemah and I think I know what Paolo was after. Nemah didn’t have her best day this day, neither did I. This was the first time we rode a serious lesson in dressage since she got the pain in her hooves last autumn.

All in all it was an interesting experience, next time I will get the full 45-minute version and hopefully have a more coherent brain.