Friday, August 7, 2015

canter transitions by puppetry

Or, in other words: another dressage lesson with trainer C. Or, in even more words: More blurry and dark pictures video stills of us trotting around with a marginally improved degree of fancy!

i clearly embrace the blur. (is that an oxymoron?? idc)
Due to an overabundance of vacation days nearing their expiration date, I took the day off in anticipation of the DC trip to meet Austen and Alli and attend the DOC clinic. So that morning proved to be the perfect opportunity for sneaking over to TM for a lesson with C - our first since before the chiro appt a couple weeks ago.

my position is doing lots of weird things right now. i am a rapidly changing environment haha
And I actually have footage from the lesson - hurray!!! So you get to enjoy a zillion video stills that for all intents and purposes are just varying shades of brown with something resembling an amorphous globular horse/rider combo floating across the center...

does this count as 'uphill'??
C warmed us up by trotting a few circles, a few long diagonals, and some leg yields from the quarter line in both directions.

Riding with her is practically an out of body experience lol. She maintains a near-constant stream of commentary (a tactic that typically works really well for me) and as I concentrate on what she's saying and move my limbs accordingly, Isabel magically transforms into a fancy dressage horse.

i hunch a LOT less these days... but it definitely still happens 
It occasionally feels like she's some sort of puppet master riding vicariously through me. And in writing this, it almost makes it seem like I'm riding purely off her directions rather than riding what I'm feeling in Isabel. Which is partly true - C is most definitely translating Isabel for me.

But simultaneously, I can still hear her voice and recreate almost the same quality work when schooling solo - my litmus test for determining whether a trainer's program works for us.

the blur isn't enough to hide whatever it is i'm doing with my wrists... but i still like how izzy is MARCHING haha
But anyway, back to the lesson - after warming up a little bit she put us directly to work on a 20m circle at trot wherein she wanted POWER in Isabel's trot. Power and inside bend. She pointed out that Isabel was baiting me into fussing with her nose and head position, to the detriment of everything else. I needed to just hold my position and let Isabel power up and into it.

i am clearly quite pleased as we take a walk break. isabel, well... isabel is maybe wondering how she got signed up for this
Sounds like a 'duh' moment but it was actually really liberating to hear bc our last few rides have been particularly fussy and it's been bumming me out. So I need to just ignore it and not worry about her head/nose. Just power and inside bend, power and inside bend.

secretly i think she likes feeling extra fancy
We focused really heavily on canter transitions, which make up the meat of the video below. They're still terrible, and don't really look much improved on the surface throughout the lesson... but that's ok. I'm getting a better and better feel for where I need to be, even tho I can't consistently get it done.

Big focuses right now are thinking of the transition as 'shifting gears' rather than chasing Isabel into it and throwing my position away. And staying soft and quiet with my position - particularly my elbows. Getting my feet down and into the stirrups continues to be a struggle so I compensate with tension through my arms and a digging seat... but hey, knowing is half the battle right?

the left lead is easier in every dimension at present
After doing canter transitions for a while we moved on to other exciting stuff - like trying to find Isabel's bigger more powerful trot up the long sides and across the diagonals. That was actually pretty awesome and exciting and Isabel felt great, but sadly there's no video evidence (ran out of storage on my phone, womp womp).


The video is already pretty long as it is tho - about 9 minutes. So I don't necessarily expect anyone to watch it haha, except those who are super curious to know what it's like to ride in a lesson with C (hint: she's pretty awesome). Or you die hard DQs who might have any additional wisdom to shower down based on what you see ;)

24 comments:

  1. You are getting there!! I think you and Isabel look awesome and you are getting so much closer to where you want to be :)

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    1. thanks! every lesson with C moves us closer and closer to a more balanced and effective partnership. if only i could have her around for every ride!

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  2. Fully agree with you. Love when the coach has a constant flow of words/hints/instructions/etc. Your lesson sounds so productive. I need lessons like this. Sadly we don't have many flat lessons.

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    1. i am LOVING these flat lessons, tho they don't really happen nearly as often as i'd like...

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  3. You guys look great! I love the idea of switching gears in a transition. I've always thought of transitions as merely changing the rhythm. So going from trot to canter is just going from two beats to three. It definitely keeps me from making any stupid decisions within the transition like trying to add or take away energy.

    I totally love trainers that talk the whole time. I feel like I want as many words per minute as I can possibly get.

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    1. that idea of 'changing rhythm' is really useful too (tho too bad i'm kinda shitty at rhythm lol). and yea something about having her talk through every moment really helps me not get too bogged down and reactive about whatever isabel is doing and just keep on riding her the way i should be

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  4. I had a coach who was a most excellent puppet master! I miss her, it was so neat to be able to ride that like and really learn where my body parts should be and how my horse should feel.

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    1. it really is so amazing - i love that feeling too! really tho my biggest requirement in a coach is that i can still get at least part of that feeling when i'm off on my own too, and fortunately that IS the case with this one, tho it hasn't been with some other trainers

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  5. Blurry or not, Izzy looks SUPER!

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  6. It is so great that you have an amazing dressage trainer near you. Isabel is looking fancy. Great job!

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    1. thanks - we are super lucky to have so many opportunities around us, that's for sure

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  7. Wow, beautiful images! You are doing a wonderful job with that mare.
    Loving per marchy trot pic!

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    1. thanks! she can really be something when i get my ducks in a row haha

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  8. Looking good. I like how much you can see her opinion on the various exercises. Perky ears for trotting, pinned ears for cantering and hunching. Mares have so many opinions.

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    1. haha yea she certainly never hesitates to share her opinion.

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  9. Yes to those puppet master lessons. Looking good!

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    1. thanks! they're definitely my favorite haha

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  10. LOL i ended up watching the entire video without realizing it until it finished. :P you guys look great!!

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    1. it's funny how that happens - somehow she makes it very easy to listen lol

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    2. It IS easy to listen to. I love your trainer.

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    3. oh man me too - i wish i could take her everywhere with me!

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  11. C sounds outstanding. I definitely do well with constant feedback like that, too, it helps redirect my actions and funnel them into good things without letting me micromanage and worry over small things. You two look better and better all the time!

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    1. thanks! i agree completely too - left to my own devices i'll get sucked into nitpicking and fighting with isabel about stupid things. but when i'm busy listening to her, it becomes easier to focus on the bigger picture

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