Wednesday, May 13, 2015

co-dependent

aka "love the one you're with"



After my last ride with Peanut I hinted about plans for this little mare. Well, things have changed - but I have no qualms telling you that my plan was to take Peanut to Jenny Camp this weekend, not Isabel. 

The terms were settled, and an OF barn rat had even volunteered to 'groom' for me. Plus it meant I'd have coaching for the first time ever at an event, since that's one of the rules of taking a lesson horse. 



So let's talk a little bit about WHY I wanted to take Peanut and not Isabel. 

Superficially, it made sense. Isabel was coming off of 2 weeks stall rest, another week of field rest, and a gradual return to work. Jenny Camp is 7 weeks to the day from her flu diagnosis, and it seemed to be cutting it close (esp given I don't own the mare). 

But, in the interest of honesty, there was more to it: 

Isabel is not a complicated horse to jump. I mean, yes - it is entirely possible to ride this horse to a stop (ask me how I know); but really, she's an honest horse who loves to jump. 



She IS a technical and sensitive ride tho, especially in her rhythm to the jump. Her canter stride is incredibly adjustable - a quality generally considered to be a good thing. Unless you're me and you pick pick pick to the fence. 

Isabel can almost *always* fit in an extra stride, and since I know that chip stride is waiting just below the surface I tend to ride defensively and create a self-fulfilling prophecy wherein I pull to the base and chip in. Or, conversely, I'll gun it out of the turn and chase Isabel past her distances... leading again to a chip. 



The answer to this problem is deceptively simple - focus on a quality canter that has power and impulsion without being FAST. This means worrying less about the distance, since we already know Isabel can jump from just about anywhere - ESPECIALLY if she's in the right canter. But of course knowing a thing isn't the same as doing a thing, right?

So then I ride something like Peanut - who is the epitome of uncomplicated jumping. Just sit and smile and Peanut does the rest. The spots are right there, Peanut adjusts herself with minimal input, and she's only going to make the same mistake once. 



And I walk away musing that maybe that's the kind of horse I should be riding. My confidence soars and everything feels so EASY. 

There's a flip side tho (obviously). 

Peanut is trained up on the flat - but I can't seem to push the right buttons to get the results I want, especially at the canter. It's like I straight up can't adjust the mare. She's so set in her ways (and generally they are pretty excellent ways) that rider input is practically irrelevant. 




This point was really driven home when I rode Isabel immediately after Peanut, and despite my crookedness and pretzel-like contortions, Isabel knew exactly what I meant and put herself into this springy round pretty trot. 

The same adjustable and sensitive way of going that gets me into trouble over fences with Isabel is what allows me to learn so much in flatting her. Generally, it's clear that she's very tuned in to me, for better or for worse. 

In a way we're kinda co-dependent haha. Neither of us is super educated, but we're learning together (even through the mistakes). And more importantly, we're both enjoying the process. 



So while taking Peanut to Jenny Camp might have made for an easier time jumping, I think having Isabel there will be more rewarding. 

38 comments:

  1. It's easy to understand why you contemplated taking Peanut, I would love the odd ride on something more educated than Oscar and I. However, happy to see you're taking Izzy because she is so adorable and I wanna see picture spam!

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    1. i was definitely super excited at the prospect of taking Peanut - seemed like it would be a whole different experience (esp bc apparently Peanut's done it a million times with a million other riders). but it'll be better with Izzy :) (and yes i will do everything in my power to get one zillion pics haha)

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  2. I don't think it would have been a bad choice either way, but I definitely agree that it will probably be more rewarding with Izzy! You have Put so much work into her!

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    1. yea i think that's kinda what did it for me. Peanut would be an absolute blast - no doubt about it. but it wouldn't have really been any reflection on my work over the past year, and i kinda wanna feel like i 'earned' it, if that makes sense?

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  3. I don't remember where I read it (and I'll have to find it again), but some famous rider in some book said that green horses and green riders can make a great pair. Green horses teach the rider to work hard to achieve something. Green riders teach the horses to think for themselves. I think you and Izzy will do great together :)

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    1. thanks! and i've definitely heard something similar about green on green pairs. can be disastrous, but can also be glorious. and of course isabel is only really green to this particular level of riding - but not green at ALL to the concept of being ridden etc, so less challenging than the babies for sure

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  4. For a moment I was like noo, bring the Izmare! then happy you decided to bring her haha Maybe I'm too "emotional" over things like this but I think you and Izzy have come such a long way and it would be an amazing way to see how all that hard work comes together (:

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    1. haha thanks - and i agree, Izzy and i definitely want to get out there and show off the fruits of our labor! part of me really misses riding lots of different horses regularly, but if i had to be stuck with one singular ride, isabel's a good fit :)

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  5. Riding those steady eddies can be wonderful. I think they are good for making sure you know how to give the right cue so you and your horse can learn properly together :)

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    1. that's definitely a great point. steady Ms Peanut taught me that exactly how lousy my position at the canter is haha

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  6. you and izzy have worked together on everything. it makes sense to continue on that tangent...? it would be rewarding not just for you, but for her! it sounds like she's really into you too so why not!

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    1. i agree! and don't get me wrong - i have a whole season's worth of plans for isabel, but figured since she might not yet be fit enough yet (tho obvi i was wrong, she's plenty fit now) i'd give her extra time and enjoy an outing with Peanut too

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  7. I think you made the right choice! I think Izzy will be fun, and challenging, and rewarding, and you'll learn a lot.

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    1. that's the hope!! and with her it is usually guaranteed to be fun even if things don't go perfectly swimmingly haha

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  8. I can totally see why you'd consider taking Peanut - she sounds lovely :) It's funny though, how riding a different horse can also make you realize what a good thing you've got going with your regular ride! Have a fun weekend!

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    1. oh man Peanut is just the coolest haha. but you're exactly right - she and Isabel are totally different, and Peanut really helped me realize why i like some of Izzy's little tics haha

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  9. I know what you mean about Izzy just knowing what you want. I've put a lot of fun buttons on Bobby, but I doubt anyone else would be able to access them. We speak our own made up language. :P

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    1. haha it really is its own language. i kinda kinda split splat all over isabel and she's just like, 'yup, got it.' tried that on peanut and the poor thing literally squealed in confusion and dismay... lol oops

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    2. Yes! Dino and I have a made-up language too! I'm excited you're taking Isabel, I think it will be a better reflection of how far you've come. :)

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    3. thanks! that's what i'm hoping. even if it doesn't go well it'll still be a great time. tho obvi i hope it goes well :D

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  10. Good for you for making the choice to look at it as a learning experience! I think you will indeed be rewarded :)

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    1. thanks! i pretty much am only riding at this point for the experience, rather than being competitive, so might as well capitalize haha

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  11. I'm sure you'd have fun and learn a lot on either horse, but you and Iz do have that special connection which will come in useful!

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    1. thank you i certainly hope so!

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  12. There is something about riding your horse that you just know how they work.. I am sure you will pick the right horse for the outting :)

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    1. they do say familiarity breeds comfort (or something like that haha). at least if things go south i'll probably know why :P

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  13. I too love riding a steady eddy. I even love getting on my friend's untrained babies, my friend's trained schoolmasters, and everything in between. But no matter what I ride, there's just something about Murray that makes me feel at home. We are just as you and Isabel are -- tuned in to one another -- and it feels pretty badass.

    Now, about those powerful impulsion filled canters.... we both need them! How do we get them?! Let us share secrets.

    My secret: hope it happens do sometimes it does. Pretty good one, huh? ;)

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    1. oh man.... those powerful canters... wherefore art they? i get glimmers of them in lessons but can't seem to replicate on my own. isabel flips her head around and tells me it's too hard so i'm like, ok yea lets just run around on the forehand.... it's a problem!! i'm right there with ya in the hope-n-pray approach lol

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    2. Half halts, friends! Access the half halts. On some horses they're easy, on others they're hard.

      Pig has a naturally great canter, but because of that he's gotten away with minimal input. Now that I'm asking him to collect more, I've had to actually ride the half halts. It's hard to get the timing right, and get your body right, and stay in balance at the same time.

      Forward and back are your friends, so is working on staying upright and balanced through smaller circles.

      Get that half halt on the flat, use it over fences. One day the concept will click for both of you and there will be no stopping you.

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    3. haha it's definitely a work in progress!! my knee jerk reaction is always to go to reins first tho, so it's actually been this whole big process of retraining myself to close my legs and tighten my core FIRST before getting all handsy. the canter is in there (as are the half halts) - it's just a matter of converting it to muscle memory

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    4. For sure! The reins are an important component, though! It might help to think of reins as connected to your outside hip. So when your outside hip pushes pause on the movement your hand contains the front.

      There was a good tip by my trainer's trainer Lou on the Dressage Radio Show about half halts. Give it a listen. Lou breaks things down really clearly, and I got a ton out of that little tidbit. http://dressageradio.horseradionetwork.com/2015/04/22/dressage-radio-episode-308-world-cup-wrap-and-half-halts/

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    5. thanks that's really helpful! we are definitely working on all of these things in lesson after lesson... i can feel the concepts starting to take hold too and it's exciting. just wish you could flip a switch tho and BOOM : dressage. wouldn't that be great?

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  14. Yay! So glad you are taking Isabel. I can tell she wants to go ;) It's a tough decision but sounds like you made the best one and it's going to be a real blast! Cannot wait to read about it!!!

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    1. lol she definitely wants to go - she can barely contain herself :D

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  15. I love horses like Isabel, so I understand where you're coming from. Sometimes you just want to feel like you aren't a massive failure, and get confirmation that you're doing the right things and not so bad. Amirite? Pig makes me feel constantly like I'm the most mistake-riddled rider in history.

    I was a distance gunner for a long time (yay xc background!). What helped me a ton was counting strides. Not sure if that's something you've done a lot of, but when I had to start counting strides out loud I started to really internalize the canter rhythm and be able to see the striding more confidently.

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    1. i count strides religiously - the entire time i'm cantering i'm counting. so it's sadly not the magic bullet in this case - partly bc even when i'm internalizing that rhythm the rhythm itself might be changing from moment to moment. tho i've found that posting the canter actually works to regain control of our rhythm. it's not something i want to do all the time, but it's helping me learn how to keep things steady

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  16. I think you'll have a lot of fun with Izzy, good luck! And remember to have fun, its definitely going to be very rewarding.

    Last week I lost my friend, an NYPD officer who was shot in the line of duty. I'm inviting you to join my movement to Be More. I'll be riding for him this season and beyond, I'd love for you to join my movement.
    The Inside Turn. // Equestrian Blog

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    1. thank you - and so very sorry for the loss of your friend

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