Thursday, June 4, 2015

eventers lesson in the rain

Another day another lesson recap. Lately my riding has been mostly limited to lessons or events. It's been such a flurry of activity in preparation for moving up to BN, and a balancing act between being ready and souring the mare. Luckily she shows no signs of burning out and, to the contrary, is hungry for more. Game mare is game. 

We have our second BN outing this weekend at Waredaca (anyone else going?), then a little lull before an event at Tranquility on the 21st, followed by a longer break from competition for pretty much the month of July. (But oooh boy we've got plans for July!!!!)

mare awaits her doom with pricked ears (and hay. always hay!)
In the meantime, let's talk about our recent ride with Dan. I'm really loving that it's become a weekly thing (just don't ask my wallet about it, k?), and his lessons nicely complement my weekly lessons with P from OF. Plus riding in both negates any perceived need to jump on my own. Which, for the record, I've never minded - but having professional eyes on the ground (esp as we raise the bar) is always reassuring. 

This lesson was a trial too since we've had lots of (much needed) rain and it drizzled the entire ride, but the footing held up mostly ok. My philosophy about riding in weather is: 'if you would show in it, you should train in it.' Plus I wanted to get a feel for Isabel's confidence in sloppy conditions, just in case we face them at an event. Turns out she's fine. Good girl!
blurry mare is still cute
We warmed ourselves up, tho Dan instructed me in the canter (#canterstrugglebusforlife). He observed that I was trying harder to sit down (I really really am trying!) and that I needed to let go more with the reins while doing so. The mare needs to carry herself, and I can't balance on the reins - esp the inside. 

His recommendation is to just transition back and forth from trot to canter - not holding the canter for very long (as it's likely to become flatter and more difficult to sit the longer I fuss), and only cantering from a very organized trot - no rushing! 

Then it was jump time! Our exercise was kinda a mish mash between last week's and the bending line from a few weeks ago. One outside line had a bounce then 4 strides to an oxer, and two large cross rails made a bending line through the center. 

deceptively simple, no?
We warmed up trotting to the left over the white X, left turn circling around to trot the white X again, then bending right to the red/purple X in 4. Guys. That bend. It was no fucking joke. And I rode Isabel directly into the standard and the poor thing stopped. I couldn't believe it. I rode my game horse sideways into the fence and she didn't want to stop but had no other choice (or really any clue what I wanted). Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sorry pony!!

We started again and I actually *steered* and she jumped it fine-ish in 5. Dan said the 5 was ok for trotting in, but that I needed way more outside leg to make the turn without relying so much on reins. He said if the horse is against my hands going into the first fence, there's no way I'll be able to turn it using reins anyway. It has to come from my body. 


you can see the Xs here. getting 4 in that bend was NO JOKE. 
We repeated this line for a while - trotted in once or twice more then started cantering in, at which point Dan definitely wanted the 4 - but without jumping the fences on an angle or turning midair. Very tough - that extra 5th stride was suuuuuper inviting haha. 

He also wanted our canter to be super organized too, and wanted us taking our time to establish the right canter. This kinda confused me bc last week he talked about the strength required to carry the super collected canter and that I needed to be economical in my approach... but I guess it's a balancing act just like everything else. I should NOT approach the jump without being in the right canter - but I also should NOT circle endlessly to establish that canter.


two-toned saddle nicely hides the wetness, but the saddle pad is visibly quite damp
We continued this theme after switching directions - cantering into the red/purple X on the right lead, bend left to the white X in 4. Readers might recall that left turns are tougher for my right-side dominant mare... Izzy was amazing tho and actually got her lead every time! 

It was all about developing the correct canter. Dan wanted us starting from a very organized, collected trot - interestingly, the same trot we worked on with Kirsten a few days prior. Very reassuring to have the same concepts arise with different trainers! 

I was only allowed to canter from the right trot - and the canter had to come immediately, no fast trot steps! Done correctly, the resulting canter was slow and collected with that 'jump' Dan wants to see. He also wanted me raising Isabel's poll - both in trot and canter. He said my problems with finding distances happen when Izzy's poll gets too low. Cue a huge light bulb moment for me!

Kaitlyn demonstrates the line exercise from oxer to bounce (sorry no media of me riding!)
Finally, we got to move on to the 'fun' stuff. Dan likes starting lessons with challenging exercises that force the horse and rider to be organized and powerful on a small canter. Then he finishes with an exercise where you can really open up the stride and let 'em go. 

We started on the right lead through the bounce, then a forward 4 to the oxer. The 4 had to be REALLY forward too - and a couple times I was afraid we wouldn't make it. But all that work on the canter had Isabel really sitting back and pushing, so she had more than enough power. We were directed to let go as soon as we got to the bounce, and I actually just held the mane with one hand the whole way down the line. Yay for honest ponies that travel in straight lines!

Then we turned it around to jump the oxer off a short left turn in a competition canter (ie forward), 4 strides to the bounce. Dan said the 4 would be shorter in this direction and was proved correct when we demolished the first bounce element haha. He didn't mind that tho since I let Isabel adjust herself (tho he added a placing pole before the bounce).

We did this once more (and it felt like we were FLYING!!!!!) before calling it a day. 


soggy mare is not amused
He told us about the motivation behind his lesson plans: saying a competition canter needs to have a longer stride full of power. You can always adjust to collect at the last moment - but it's much harder (if not impossible) to add power at the last moment (he used the example of coming to a wide oxer off a short turn - pretty much impossible if you're under-powered). 

So he has us develop that power on a small collected canter first, so that we can maintain it after opening the canter up. Methinks this has repercussions for my stadium warm up plan at events lol.... 

24 comments:

  1. Loooove this! Hmmm definitely has me thinking about different ways to play with my own canter adjustability!

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    1. really all of his lessons ever boil down to the canter. it can be really frustrating sometimes... but just from riding regularly with him the difference in isabel is amazing. now that she understands her own canter better she's suddenly arriving to the jump better and better with less input from me. it's pretty awesome

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  2. Sounds like a great lesson! Good luck this weekend!

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    1. thank you - i'm super excited!

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  3. Wow, you are a lesson machine! Have fun on the weekend :)

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    1. yea i may or may not have an addiction to lessons lol. some people drool over fancy tack and gorgeous leather, i drool over lessons... it probably works out about the same financially haha

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  4. I'm a lesson addict too :) I seriously need to borrow some of those exercises for my little mare. Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. lesson junkies unite! haha - but do try these exercises! one huge part of why i blog is to catalog all of these for easy reference later haha.

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  5. Sounds like a great lesson! Good luck this weekend- you guys will rock it!

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    1. thanks - i'm SO excited (but of course kinda nervous too... lol)

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  6. I'm a fan of the "if you'd show in it, train in it" philosophy, which is why Gina and Moe go out in all kinds of weather. (Well, they don't go out in thunderstorms or tornadoes. I'm not CRAZY.)

    Good luck this weekend!!

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    1. thanks! when i first heard someone say that little adage it really resonated for me. obvi, like you i'm not crazy - lightning is a no go, as is really anything extreme. but high winds or plain rain? i definitely want to feel confident that we can work through that in the safety of our home arena since that's definitely NOT enough to cancel a show!

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  7. It's great you can take lessons with a great trainer. That exercise does seem challenging. Also, I too would ride in any weather that it is safe to ride in, so long as my trainer is willing to teach in that weather–I can't ride along because I don't have my own horse. I California, though, we face the opposite of rain and cold: severe heat. It's a pain to ride in, but I continue anyways.

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    1. we definitely get a lot of heat here - plus tons of humidity which is no fun at all. i can definitely appreciate a cool drizzle with reasonable footing to avoid the intense mugginess we normally get! my horse was barely even sweating after the ride!

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  8. It's great that Izzy is good in the rain! My horse is... not.

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    1. she sometimes gets a little chagrined - like, wtf really, why? - but mostly she's fine. the footing is much more of a concern. she dislikes puddles and squishy spots and they can be very very distracting...

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  9. Dan sounds like such an awesome instructor, he'd be the type of person I'd love to lesson with. And much love for Izzy's braids, she looks so fancy!

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    1. i'm getting a lot out of these lessons - they are REALLY working for me and it feels like isabel retains the knowledge too, like she is more educated with every ride. that said - his expertise is really in horse training, not rider coaching. he'll get better with time (still pretty young) - but right now there's sometimes a lack of explanation or clarity to what he says. he's more likely to continue repeating himself if you're not getting it right, rather than finding a new way to explain something. plus sometimes i think he expects his students to ride like pros, which, well, i'm not a pro for a reason lol tho i will certainly try!

      ultimately tho i enjoy riding with a wide variety of trainers and have figured out over time what works for me and what doesn't. these lessons are definitely worth it!

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  10. Tis the week for bouncing!!! Way to go Ms Izzy! :D

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  11. Jealous of all of your lessons! I get to learn from them too ;P

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    1. i really love these lessons haha - the more the merrier!

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