Friday, March 27, 2015

impromptu lesson

I kinda had to pep talk myself into going to the barn Wednesday night, after making the mistake of eating an early dinner and relaxing on the couch for a bit. But it would be ridiculous to not capitalize on good footing and daylight at our own farm after a winter of hauling around all the time, esp when the forecast for the rest of this week is rainy. 

So. Off to the barn!


And I didn't regret that choice at all - turned out Dan was coming for a lesson with two of my barn mates, and I managed to squeeze in. My initial plan was for a night of simple flat work... but whatever. I love me some lessons! 

I've ridden with Dan a handful of times (posts herehere, and here) and he generally has the same goals for us each time: he wants our canter to be teeny tiny and balanced, and we should use smaller and smaller circles to achieve this - always feeling like we can add leg.


Unlike past lessons, he really didn't offer much in the way of feedback for our flat work - mostly he just wanted us all to warm ourselves up while he observed and set fences. His only comments for me and Isabel were to really compress and collect the canter - beyond what we'd even typically want for a dressage test. 

I never quite reached the canter he wanted - but Isabel felt great and was really trying for me. Not sure what the difference is but I'm suddenly starting to believe we have a nice canter somewhere in there!  

isabel's patented tail flick

Dan set up a line measured for what he called a competition 3 strides. So probably about 48'? He had us trot and canter the vertical out jump a couple times to warm up, then canter through the line each way in 4 strides. He wanted it QUIET - but still a very deliberate 4 (no sneaking in a 5th stride, no matter how pretty it looked!).

His reasoning was that we were schooling - not showing. So he wanted us to fit in that extra stride, even if it meant a little ugliness or knocking the rail. He wanted the horses really tuned in and staying with us, not sprawling out when things got iffy. (In fact his general homework for me was to work on transitions and getting everything from just my seat.)


In a way I felt bad bc I can almost *always* stuff in an extra stride, and Isabel is usually happy to acquiesce... but the other two horses were green OTTBs who had a harder time. 

So I initially thought it wasn't really the kind of exercise we need to work on... but after watching the videos and seeing how consistently on pace we were, I changed my mind. One of my biggest problems is pushing Isabel past her distance, then chipping in to the jump. But in this lesson where we really focused on keeping that canter small and organized (but keeping forward impulsion), I found the jump nicely each and every time.



The final exercise looked a lot harder than it actually was, thanks to all that work on establishing the right canter. It was five canter poles set at bounce distances. Tracking right was a ground pole, cavaletti, cavaletti, ground pole, small vertical. (tracking left was obvi just the reverse). Isabel made quick work of it each way (tho only one was caught on video) and we called it a night. 

All in all it was a good lesson. We didn't have as many rounds as the other riders bc Isabel mostly got the answers right on the first try - and the jumps were on the smaller side of what he's had us do in the past. But I'm pleased with the ride and think I'm getting a better understanding of how to continue developing our canter. 

22 comments:

  1. You guys are looking AWESOME! You are totally right. the pace you were keeping was just enough forward to keep Isabel going, but slow enough that she could take the time she needed to rebalance. Good lesson!

    My dressage brain wants to remind you to sit up strong against Isabel when half halting, instead of rocking your upper body at her. But, I'll admit to not being sure how that translates in a jumping seat any more. Anyone else?

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    1. Thanks! I was really pleased w Isabel - esp her nice little canter haha. But yea I was slouching hard core thru the lesson... My little bird brain can only focus on so many things at once, and the goal for the night was to keep my legs down and steady, w toes pointing forwards and not out. That was partly successful (tho my toes still swing out over the actual fence...) but my upper body suffered from the lack of attention. Just gotta keep workin on it haha

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    2. Hey! You were still clearly getting the job done. The rest will come! :)

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    3. haha thanks! i'm very much ok with a 'one thing at a time' attitude - just gotta build that muscle memory!

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  2. I wish we had more people come in to teach at the barn so I can hop in. Looks like an awesome lesson!

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    1. thanks!! my barn mates have been working with dan for a couple years - long before they brought their own lesson program to my barn, so we're kinda spoiled that he is willing to come and teach the rest of us too haha

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  3. Yay for good lessons! It reminds me that I need to find a trainer to work with, good ones seem to be sparse in my area it feels.

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    1. finding the right trainer is definitely tough, and i've had quite a few false starts over the years. i actually have to haul out to see my primary trainer P each week, and it is SO worth it. but i really like filling in the gaps by riding with a couple other trainers on occasion

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  4. She looks so much fun to ride! She has such a little hop to her canter

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    1. that little hop in her canter is exactly what we were trying to get too - to help avoid getting fast and flat to the jumps. she is a TON of fun to ride too :)

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  5. I love watching y'all jump! Isabel always looks like she's having THE BEST time!

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    1. thanks haha - i think she actually really loved this lesson bc it was relatively easy for her to do it well - so she could just sashay around like the queen she is lol

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  6. Nicely done :) I love how happy and motivated Isabel looks!

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    1. thanks - i felt really good about this ride, especially with how confidently she rode through everything. she's a good pony!

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    1. very fun- and simultaneously kinda relaxing haha

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  8. I love a good jumping lesson, you guys look like you're having fun!

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    1. i like a good jumping lesson too - and it's been a while since we've managed to get through an entire lesson without botching a single jump so that was kinda cool too haha

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  9. Great video! Looks like a nice canter - good work!

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    1. thanks! i'm pretty pleased with the horse... this time last year she would have heartily resented being asked to canter in such a controlled manner... but i think she realizes that maybe i have my reasons now haha

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  10. You and Isabel always look so happy doing your job! I think her Canter is looking really nice :)

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    1. thanks! i really do try to keep things fun first and foremost - and it's pretty rewarding to sense that she enjoys the work :)

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