Thursday, May 14, 2015

lesson on messy technicalities

Oooooh boy. We had another lesson with Dan last night (likely to be a weekly thing for as long as I can afford it...) and he ratcheted up the technicality. Remember when I said that bending four stride from last week was tough for us? Haha. Hahaha. (*sob*) 

We focused on two exercises through the ride. First was a line measured for two strides that he wanted in a quiet three and second was a line of raised canter poles on a circle set at bounce distances (and the bonus third was putting the two together). 

Per usual, the focus was on our canter. We were responsible for putting the horse into a collected (but not flat!!!) canter, and then the horse was responsible for maintaining through the exercises. 


I felt pretty good about things after warming up through each exercise separately. Isabel got the answers right for both, and I figured it'd be another ride where we just cruised through. Haha. I was wrong. I mean, Isabel still did really well (she's the best!) - but the challenge became maintaining that canter for every single stride - while still striving to allow the horse to carry the canter itself. Tricky balance. 



First combo was coming down the outside line tracking right in a quiet 3, then sorta leg yielding left a bit to the rail to set up the bend into the canter poles. 

Isabel and I did ok-ish the first time, but kinda didn't quite steer through the poles. Second time we came into the line with too much canter, did 2 instead of 3, then whiifffffffed the canter poles. And Dan (who is master of deadpan observation) simply pointed out "not... not quiet enough." Oops. We mostly got it done on the third try. 


Next we turned the exercise around to track left through the canter poles then move forward to the outside line. Dan wanted us really allowing the horse to move up here - getting 4 strides to the line, then doing the 2 strides now instead of 3. Our biggest struggle here was keeping the right canter for the poles - esp after we allowed them to open up for the line, getting that small collected canter again was hard. 

wat is you doing, right leg?!?!? stahhhhp!!!
seriously tho - i was squeezing so hard with my legs to keep her put together, but that effort is worthless if i can't keep the damn legs down and around isabel.... needs work!

And actually we ended up aiming for 5 bending strides from the poles to the line instead of the straight 4, for poor shorty Isabel haha. She nailed the line in 2 strides every time, and moved up and away from the poles really well too (forward is not a problem for this mare lol). But getting the canter for those poles was seriously challenging (which I guess was the point...).
I'm getting a lot better about using my entire leg from hip to heel to keep the horse packaged up... but it got pretty messy when my focus was on a million different things and I was maybe a bit frazzled. I REALLY need to keep those legs stretched DOWN otherwise they're useless... 

holy cavaletti! (do i look worried?? haha)
We finished the lesson with a quick run down the 2 stride line, which had continued to grow through the lesson to become 2'9" verticals with two placing poles inside the line.

I know placing poles are supposed to be helpful but they kinda melt my mind. Don't ask me why haha. But I said something to Dan about how he was making it so much harder and he seemed surprised. He pointed out that the poles had nothing to do with me, and shouldn't make any difference in my ride. I was responsible for getting Isabel into the line in the right canter (now forward instead of quiet), and she should do the rest. 



And of course he was right. Obviously. Isabel was foot perfect and we finished on that. 


It was a messy and challenging lesson but productive, I think. We're starting to get a much better feel for different gears in our canter. 

Also - I really like Dan's ultimate philosophy that we should be able to create the canter and then leave the horse there to figure it out. It jives pretty well with trainer P's lessons too, wherein she wants the horse making (correct) decisions and adjustments on its own. That level of education in the horse is obviously a valuable asset on the cross country field. 



It's a lot of work up front tho - and my homework will absolutely be getting all my various body parts working without twisting up into a crooked useless mess on Isabel's back haha. 

19 comments:

  1. LOL - placing poles terrify me. I don't know why. We have a new girl at our farm who is all about them, so she sets them up EVERYWHERE. And then I move them :) You guys look great!

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    1. haha i always move them too. or if i don't i end up regretting it lol

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  2. I hate placing poles too!! I always worry that the horse is going to step on them. But those are some great exercises you did in your lesson.. might have to set those up at home. You look great and it's obvious you're really riding well and putting in a great effort even though it was a tough lesson!

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    1. thanks! and i've seen some horses get VERY offended from stepping on them too haha... but i guess they have their purpose. these exercises were tricky but fun - you should definitely give them a whirl! if it's not obvious from the pics/video they were kinda set up in a J shape: line to bending poles

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    1. it was deceptive too - bc when you got it right it felt soooo easy. but one foul step and the whole thing fell apart. kinda took my by surprise lol

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  4. Looks like a fun lesson, with some challenging gymnastics! When I took the jumping clinic a few weeks back the clinician had something similar to say - that we are responsible for the canter and straightness, and the horse is responsible for the distances..something like that. Since I tend to micromanage everything, it helped relieve my mind that I don't have to be in charge of everything..easier said than done! Love the video!!!

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    1. thanks! you and i must be similar riders - i really want to micromanage everything too and it's SO HARD to just focus on one thing (the canter) instead of alllll of the things... but it works so you can't really argue with it...

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  5. Whoa! Isabel looks AWESOME. I love that first picture. Can we say "athleticism"? Damn!

    I have the same problem with my legs creeping up when I have to squeeze a ton. Since my horse can be perpetually behind my leg (while still hot and explosive ... yay. Fun...), I tend to always be squeezing.

    Here's what helps me ... take my legs off the horse and thwap it with my legs. Like a really big double kick. That takes a lot of ab strength to not lean forward with the movement, or flail around up on top when you do that, but it gets the horse's attention that you mean forward and keeps your legs from creeping up. Once the horse gets the idea, you just have to barely take your legs off to manufacture some more forward energy.

    For movements where you're going to need more and more leg, think about pushing down your knee when you squeeze. Like, think bricks are tied from your knee, and you have to hold on with your legs to keep from getting pulled off.

    Weird little tips. But, hey. Whatever works.

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    1. i really like the visual of pointing knees down - just haven't been able to translate it into habit yet. but i have to figure out some way to tame my renegade right leg. the left more or less stays where i put it, but the right one just wants to curl up and be close to me. it's needy i guess (knee-dy? haha..). i'll keep trying tho. i'll also be revisiting grant schneidman's exercise of dropping just the outside stirrup (doing this while tracking left) to force the issue a bit

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    2. Ohhh..my struggle exactly. That's a helpful tip I'm going to steal, thank you!

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  6. I just love how enthusiastic and happy Isabel looks :)

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    1. haha me too!! she really is a joy to work with

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  7. That looks very hard! Isabel is looking really nice though.

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    1. it was definitely tricky! and was even harder for the less trained horses in the lesson, but luckily isabel's pretty good at this stuff

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  8. Argh, ew, raised canter poles on a circle... I hate that exercise! Totally makes my brain go jelly :(

    I do love a good technical jumping lesson though, my legs come up too when I have to squeeze for more forward. Thankfully that isn't often, but when it does it isn't the prettiest! Unlike Isabel's CUTE face! She looks completely in her element!

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    1. i kinda love the complexity too haha. it's tough, but then again isabel is so so game - exactly in her element! - that it isn't ever truly frustrating. she feels like she could do this kind of stuff all day every day, it's pretty amazing actually. and it means that i actually should be able to focus on things like equitation... oops!

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  9. LOL--love cavalleti pic! Poles FREAK ME OUT! My heart rate went up just watching you. :) You are the best at lesson recaps! I can't wait to go try something like this, but perhaps with...less..poles... :P

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    1. haha my answer for everything is 'less poles.' luckily isabel attacks them with a vengeance ! hope you have fun replicating some of the exercises :D

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