Thursday, July 30, 2015

and the rails fly!

Despite not getting as much saddle time as I would have liked in preparation for our weekly lesson (especially considering Isabel's brief vacation while I was in Nola), things actually went pretty well! It was wretched hot out, but Kaitlyn (from Something to Talk About Eventing) and I were determined to make the best of it.

izzy got some air!
We warmed ourselves up while Dan set fences. I wasn't totally thrilled with our trot work to be honest - Isabel felt a little resistant and I was sort of taking my time trying to work through it. Isabel repaid these efforts by giving me a *very* lovely left lead canter transition (our easier side right now) exactly when Dan glanced over. Score! 

she claimed the bugs were eating her alive. i was not particularly sympathetic haha
After circling at the canter briefly, he told us that was probably a good enough warm up given how hot it was. Part of me would have liked to give the right lead a go too... but yea it was pretty hot out and we wanted to JUMP!

yes, this - i like doing this!
We warmed up over a coop that was just off the center line a few times - and Dan wanted us feeling for whichever lead the horse landed on and turning that direction. But he specifically did NOT want us influencing the lead - just feeling for it. Meaning Isabel and I predominantly circled right haha. 

some of the turns were wicked, but this exercise actually rode REALLY nicely
(i don't know the exact measurements, but the striding was set pretty easy)
Then we moved on to the exercise: an odd triangle of jumps set up more or less in the middle of the arena. The line from blue coop to brown natural rode in a very easy 6, tho that didn't stop me from adding the first time, and nearly leaving a stride out the second... Dan said he likes 6 stride lines for that exact reason: there's enough space to show you whether you've got it right or not, compared to a 4 stride line that might be harder to mess up. 

we like little coops too
Next we added the diagonals - slicing the orange/yellow single to ride a straight line to either the natural or the coop, depending on which direction you were going. This required jumping both fences on a fairly severe angle, and Isabel definitely questioned it the first time - but really it rode much better than I expected in an easy 3. The key for us was the whole 'turning off the outside aids' thing that we very recently figured out. Exciting haha.

tho isabel does NOT like it when i cut my corners with no supporting leg... nope nope not good
The wheels kinda started falling off when we turned the diagonals around - starting from either the coop or natural and going to the orange/yellow. In particular, that left lead turn from natural to orange/yellow was WICKED. 

My first time through I *knew* we weren't on our line yet, but I was already having to look back over my shoulder so I turned anyway. It clearly didn't work haha, sorry Isabel!! You'll see in the video how much deeper I went into the corner before turning in later (more successful) efforts.

you can sorta get a sense of the angle here
Part of the problem was that I settled a bit too much. We continued the same process from my last lesson of establishing a nice walk, then nice trot, THEN nice canter - and so far that seems to be working for us. But simultaneously I forgot the other part of that same lesson: we need leg leg leg around the turns so I can see my distance out of the corner and settle to the fence, rather than dying in the corners then trying to gun it to the fence. Oops. 

dan doesn't like gappy distances for a reason! (note the flying rail)
It was kind of unfortunate bc really the lesson had been going smoothly up to this point, and then I started running Isabel into the fences and we were both already a little tired so it took me a hot minute to sort it back out again.

isabel slices and dices (when i give her the room she needs... and also don't throw myself up her neck...)
She's a forgiving mare tho, and when I corrected myself she easily followed suit. Throughout the lesson I was thinking about being softer with my hands and arms - keeping them more consistently forward (no pulling to the base!) - and keeping that 'bounce' in my heels that trainer P talked about last week. The whole point is to quiet my upper body a little bit and avoid leaning so far up Isabel's neck all the time. 

i like leaning, what else can i say?
But while there were definitely moments when I felt quieter, they typically coincided with the moments when I took off my leg and we flubbed the fences. Per my usual wavering-between-extremes self, I need to find the balance. 

Right now adding a lot of leg creates a busy upper body (which you will see in our final effort on the video) - but that leg is critical as the fences go up. So for now I'm just gonna have to start there, keep that leg on, and hopefully quiet down the upper body in time. 


It's kind of funny really - the video makes the lesson look a little rougher than it actually was. And nearly has me wondering if I should add this to my ever-growing category of 'fail' posts. But I'm not gonna. You know why? Because this was actually a pretty great ride. Sure we made mistakes but they were always pretty obvious and were easily fixed. 

Right now it's really easy for me to tell when we've got it right. It's less easy to see when our canter *isn't* where it needs to be -- until we get to the fence at a craptastic distance. Eventually I'll be able to better assess our canter earlier on... one day haha. 

every lesson should end this way!
So yea, after taking care of our saintly horses, Kaitlyn and I were able to hang out with celebratory and oh-so-refreshing beers (post-hydrating, like ya do) and watch some other friends ride. Barn time at it's best, right?

32 comments:

  1. Pre-hydrate!! Post-hydrate! so much hydration!

    I'm all honesty, you guys look great over those fences. Slices are hard to trust when you can't see the line, and even harder when you aren't 100% confirmed in your canter. You guys seemed to do really well!

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    1. all hydration all the time :D and thanks - i was actually really really pleased with her canter for pretty much all of the ride. our only blips were pretty obvious in retrospect and mostly had to do with me rushing to get to the exercise without taking the time to properly get our canter going.

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  2. Slices are TOUGH, but you guys look great! That exercise looks very challenging, like the jumps come up quickly. Sure, you and Iz may have had some not-so-great moments, but if riding was easy, everyone would do it ;) Great job!

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    1. thanks haha - it was definitely a lot of fun, even with knocking everything down lol

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  3. Don't add it to your fails! It's definitely not! You learned, the angles are hard and you did them well!

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    1. yea definitely not a fail - it was actually pretty cool how easily it rode when everything was lined up right. hopefully that'll translate to the xc field too!

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  4. I'm in the same boat as you- my girl is much happier when I keep my upper body still, but as soon as I hold my leg on more strongly I start shakin' and bakin' up top. I'm loving all these pictures though, you guys are looking totally badass!

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    1. lol @ "shakin' and bakin'" - that is EXACTLY what i do! one day we'll figure out how to add leg without moving everything else around :D

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  5. Definitely not a fail!!! you both came out with more tools in your tool kit and confidence!

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    1. yep! it's funny how footage can be like that - making something that felt good look iffy, or something that felt pretty rough look ok... but yea this was a super fun lesson, glad you could ride too!!

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    2. I can totally relate...the XC Clinic was like that. It felt amazing but looking at the pictures it sort of tells a different story. I blogged about it haha. You two did look great though!

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    3. lol yea i am SO FAR behind reading everyone's blogs... i'll get to it tho!! but yea i think it's mostly just bc we jumped a bit more than what she actually caught on video, but that's ok i'm still happy with it :)

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  6. You look awesome!! I think Isabel is actually jumping better now that your position is so fantastic. :) Love that exercise too!

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    1. thanks! i'm not totally sure what came first in that regard, or if it's maybe just that the bigger jumps are forcing us to be more correct? it felt great tho!

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  7. doesn't look like a fail to me!

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    1. haha thanks - didn't feel like one either ;)

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  8. I kinda like how Isabel is just like "Chestnut mare don't careeee."

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    1. lol she needs a tiara with that quote bejeweled across it

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  9. I think I schooled jumping on an angle like 80 years ago and don't have the foggiest how I'd do now. I really came here to say that those jumps look scary big.

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    1. lol they are certainly at the high end of our current range... but it worked out easier than i expected!

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  10. First, that exercise is ridiculous. I hate it. But it sure does improve your riding!

    Second, I think you guys look great when you get through it. I agree that this is definitely not a "fail" just part of building your skill set.

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    1. haha yea it really did require me to plan for and commit to my lines! thanks :)

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  11. Looks like a good lesson! Dahlia and I would have failed fantastically with that exercise lol!

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    1. lol you never know! maybe she has some inner talent for slicing fences that you have only yet to discover! :D

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  12. You guys look great! Other than the couple of mishaps (in a really hard exercise!) it was awesome. She's looking so powerful and confident over fences!

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    1. thanks! i'm super excited about her canter right now, and really through the whole ride she felt exactly that: powerful and confident. the little mistakes are easily fixed, i just need to be better at recognizing when we're losing the canter

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  13. I think a little Miss is trying to tell you a hunter career awaits her... lol. You two book fantastic.
    And yeap... jacking this exercise.... is there a tip jar here somewhere for all these great gyms...? lol Thank you for sharing.

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    1. hahahaha yea right. izzy's feelings about the hunter world are not super rosy lol. but yes please enjoy this exercise! i have no clue where Dan gets them all. he says he tries to be creative and think of new things rather than just following along from the books.... tho clearly some of these are old tried-n-true recipes

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  14. You two look pretty awesome, IMHO! Go Team Emmabel

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