Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ding ding dressage winner

I couldn't be happier with the dressage lesson Isabel and I took this past weekend. The trainer C is super down to earth and friendly - but also figured us out pretty damn quick and had the tools to help us. 

It didn't hurt that the facilities are GORGEOUS too! Wow, so pretty.... The barn is shaped like an 'H', and every doorway seemed to hold some scenic vista of the fields in the distance. The indoor is connected to the barn and is 20x60m with lovely footing, clean mirrors and bright windows. The outdoor looked nice too, but apparently is still closed for the season. 


I told C about where we are in our training - and what we're aiming for. Specifically, we talked about my upcoming event in mid-April (entries are in - squee!!) in which I'll ride Intro C. So she put us through all our gaits, with lots of step by step help - exactly what I need. Isabel was her usual phenom self and was very good - she tattled on me when I messed up and rewarded me with going very nicely when I had my ducks in a row.

Then she set up cones to mark a 20x40m arena, since that's what we'll be riding in, and had us run through the test. I already learned it but hadn't yet ridden it. And you know what? It went really well!! The canter work was practically made for us since the up and down transitions have quite a bit of leeway. Plus, the test starts out tracking right (our tougher direction) so I'll be able to face that part immediately, rather than melting down halfway through the test. 


mirror selfie! do you see us???

C gave me a lot to think about, but nothing overwhelming and everything made sense and seemed to mesh quite well with the small foundation we've already laid. Really the only big difference between her instruction and Grant Schneidman's clinic was that she wanted a little less forward - which actually helped improve our balance. I think we'll become more forward later, but just not yet. 

Anyway, here are some tidbits I picked up: 

Position
  • use my outside aids to turn - but stay in line with Isabel's outside ear (ie don't collapse my upper body!)
  • turn toes in to get thighs on the saddle and calves off the horse - this will also keep knees down
  • my hands have a nice softness already - but I need to improve my timing in quieting down when Isabel is going nicely
  • don't need to post as high in a dressage saddle
Aids
  • inside rein is for bend, outside rein is for how high/deep Isabel carries her head
  • don't be rigid with outside elbow - soften
  • open inside rein for more bend, then bring hands back together
  • want to see Isabel's inside eyelashes 
Strategy 
  • for a turn down the center line - start preparing the bend down the long side and maintain the bend through the corner to the center line (the right turn is definitely more problematic for us)
  • should have distinct bend on 20m circles
  • push Isabel out - almost like a leg yield - to prepare for canter transition. meaning - use the inside leg to prepare, then bump with outside
  • seek to put Isabel 'in gear' - ask her to go a certain way and then leave her alone. she'll make mistakes and change, and I will need to make corrections... but in the meantime beeee quieettttt. 
  • when going down the center line be careful not to over ride one side of the horse
  • I might aim for a lower headset in Isabel for schooling than I'd typically want for competition just because she has such a strong natural tendency to be high headed



the indoor arena is equally beautiful when viewed from the exterior

So I'm quite pleased with the lesson itself. And on top of that, C's lesson schedule works better with my own schedule than I had even dared to hope. And the farm is an easy 15 minute drive from Isabel's barn. My plan is to aim for a lesson every other week, and we're already in the books for the week before our event. Very exciting!


everyone was super friendly - including the cats!

22 comments:

  1. So much good stuff!! :) I love a lot of what this instructor is telling you, and it'll be really fun to see how some of those directives will change as you start internalizing the positional changes. Eeee! So excited for you!

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    1. thanks - i'm really excited to see where it all goes too :D

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  2. This is great!! You've already gotten some awesome feedback from this trainer and I can't wait to see how you and Isabel progress with her help :)

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    1. she's great - right away i could tell that she's gonna really help us along. plus she thought izzy was cute so... obvi i'm sold haha

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  3. That's so exciting! Congrats on finding a good one!

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    1. thanks - i'm pretty relieved about it. hopefully we can stick with the program!

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  4. That's so awesome you found a great trainer who's schedule coordinates with you, yay!!!! :)

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    1. i'm seriously happy about it! feels like we've been trying forever haha

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  5. Great lesson recap - some tips there I can use, thank you :)

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    1. glad to hear that! i forget all these little details immediately if i don't write them down lol, but it's good to hear they might be useful for others too!

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    2. Same here: I'm going to be applying some of these tips too! Really great write-up, Emma and I'm soooo glad you finally found a trainer whose schedule works with yours AND has a great teaching style!

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    3. thanks!! i'm already really excited about our next lesson haha

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    1. it was it was!! i'm already excited about the next one haha

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  7. Sounds like it was a super lesson! I also struggle with getting rigid in my outside elbow- really my whole outside rein. I'm constantly reminding myself to not have such a death grip lol

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    1. haha the struggle is real! i'm only finally learning not to constantly throw the outside rein away.. so obviously now i need to hang on to it like it's going out of style... le sigh

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  8. Sounds awesome!! YAAAAAY dressage lessons!!!!

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    1. it WAS awesome!! so happy to get back into the swing of it!

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  9. I demand a tour of the facilities! So glad you had fun. I am always amazed by people's take aways from dressage lessons and how most trainers seem to be on the same page!

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    1. haha i'll try to grab a few pics next time without looking like a total creeper :)

      and yea the takeaways aren't shrouded in mystery or absurdly complicated - which is sorta how i previously viewed dressage lol

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