Tuesday, September 29, 2015

another good lesson (with bonus bloopers)

We had another serious competition-focused lesson at OF this weekend, and with only 3 riders in the group it was much easier to zero in on each individual's level and issues. Meaning, we worked up to N height quickly for our course work. Yesss! 

isabel loves the long walk up to the arena - lots of foliage to sample!
Most jumps were in the same place as the last two weeks, tho the outside triple changed to a 1-1 stride combo, set at 18' distances. Trainer P LOVES 18' one stride grids and we've worked on them frequently over the past year and a half. They're tough - the short distance really forces the horse to rock back and compress its stride. Tho we usually keep the heights low and Isabel typically does not struggle with them.

tho i occasionally appear maniacally defensive lol
All the same tho, Isabel started off a bit behind my leg, which was somewhat unexpected given high winds and a distinct drop in temps. Oh well... she woke up eventually!

same four stride bending line from last week 
After working on the 1-1 grid for a while, we practiced the same bending line of oxers from last week, this time adding a coop as the third element, also on a bending approach. It was measured as a 3-3, but with the bend rode very nicely in 4-4. We started this at BN height then raised it to N for the course. It rode super well each time, except once when I came in with too much and got 3-5. Oops.

out oxer of the bending line became the middle element this week
The whole lesson I was focused on moving forward to the jumps. Last week's ride was a blast and everything felt really good - but it was hard to watch the video and look at the pics and not see example after example of *backwards* riding. Sure, the canter was lovely (Isabel is definitely making great strides here) and was able to make up for any iffy distances, but I just hated how evident my pulling was.

bending to the coop in 4 strides as the final third element of the line
So this week was all about half halting (for dramatic, noticeable effect) through the turns (with leg ON!) such that once we made our turn we could flow forward to the jump (again, without speeding up). And it will shock exactly nobody to hear that the approach worked. Very well. Haha. 

emma: "this..... this will not end well"
isabel: "oh shit oh god oh shit!"
After finishing warming up through the individual elements, we put the jumps up and did the full course - starting with a single white gate on the diagonal (3') then back to the 1-1 grid, which had also gone up. And, uh, we maayyyyy have been a touch strung out on approach, plus it was more visually imposing at a bigger height and... refusal. Oops.

"i just want to be close to you, izzy" - emma
Re-approached and got over the first element and NOT the second. Oy, Isabel, those are good brakes and all but that was a HARD stop! Good mare kept her head up tho, otherwise I was absolutely a goner (aka lawn dart).... she still earned a little smack for that. Nothing angry or mean, but just "Hey, you *cannot* stop in the middle of a grid set at 18' distances. Make it work. Jump the jumps."

at least the air bags deployed? 
She got through it the next time (plus once more for good measure) tho it was never very pretty. I just grabbed mane and stayed in the back seat lol. Also I think my stirrups might need to go up a little bit? Eh idk.

pictured: gettin it done (and clutching the mane like it's my job lol)
After the grid issues I got a little lost and somehow went directly to the end of the course, skipping three jumps. Eh, mental farts happen I guess. At least Isabel continued to jump really REALLY well - didn't back off or anything after the shaky ride through the grid.

wheeeee coooop!!
And actually - maybe that grid helped Isabel understand that I was really serious about compressing the stride, so she actually became even more adjustable as we went. Which was great - we compressed seriously in each corner then flowed to the jumps. Effortless. Ah what a good feeling!

we call this jump 'monsters inc' bc of the colors. isabel looks ready to destroy any monsters that dare cross her path
Of course this isn't to say there aren't issues that need attention - because obviously there always are. I looked a little loose in the tack (didn't really feel that way tho, which was good) so probably need to shorten my stirrups a hole. And my toes were doing their own thang per usual - pointing straight out instead of forward.

there we go, that's a nicer expression!!! (disregard my winging out toes... ugh)
Plus I was both overly busy and overly defensive with my upper body. Some of that can be attributed to my subconscious response to bigger jumps, and some of it is just plain old weakness. Needs work regardless. Oh, and I really need more stretch through the lower legs. Especially that right heel likes to creep up up up. The left isn't as bad, but still could use work.


Again I think all these things are related - my upper body is a little weak and busy bc I'm essentially standing on my stirrups rather than stretching down with the upper calf on the horse. That's probably also what's causing the winged-out toes too.

barrels FTW!
But all that will continue to improve with time. For now I'm gonna bask in the glory that is Isabel's ever-developing canter. We have had SO MANY frustrations and issues trying to improve her balance and adjustability here, and lessons like this are the payoff. It's just crazy to me how educated she feels now, compared to this same time last year.

she takes me right where she wants to be lol
Plus the height remains easy for us - always hugely reassuring. I'm still more likely to make stupid mistakes at this height... but ehh, I'm not sure that will ever change lol. And really, the biggest hardship of this lesson (the grid) isn't something we'll actually see in competition at this point (if ever) so... I still feel really good about our general preparation for Olde Hope this Sunday!! 

The only thing left to figure out is our riding schedule for these last few days. How do you balance the week leading up to a show? Conditioning days? Serious schooling? Light n easy?? Some combination thereof?

43 comments:

  1. Iz has the cutest jump! I haven't shown so take this with a grain of salt. I would keep things fairly light. Maybe one day of jumping 3-4 days out where you jump competition height+. Light hack, light dressage, and probably a day off in there somewhere but not the day before a show

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    1. that seems to make a lot of sense. gotta somehow work in some conditioning, i think, tho. nothing intense (don't wanna wear her out right before the show!) but at least something to get her moving out fully

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  2. I didn't want to point this out last week.....but I did notice the "backwards riding" you mentioned above. I don't think it's anything to be super concerned about, especially now that you've seen it and are aware of it and are working to correct it! Pace is tough, and now that you're in a "GO FORWARD" mentality, you've already improved your canter in your approach to the jumps. And, when Isabel realized you were serious about compressing the stride in the corners, things seemed to work out really well! I think it's really neat that she seems so much more educated.

    As they say, if riding were easy, everyone would do it :) Keep up the good work!

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    1. lol you didn't need to "point it out" last week bc i wrote about it explicitly in the post haha. seriously tho - this comment reads like an incomplete recap of the many many (many) words i've already written about the subject.

      but of course we all know there's a difference between the ability to discuss a thing and the ability to actually *do* it.

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  3. Looking good!
    I don't change anything leading up to a show. Two jump lessons a week, two hack/conditioning rides and a friend rides him on the flat once a week. The only time that changes is if one of those rides falls on the show day.

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    1. seems like a good approach to me, and is probably somewhere close to what i'll end up doing.

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  4. I love how she's so neat and tidy with her front end! I agree with you- shorten your stirrups at least a hole. The bigger the jump, the shorter they need to be. If you were able to stretch your lower leg and heels down, you'd find the angle behind your knee way bigger than George Morris's 90 degrees. I thought my jump stirrups were pretty darn short until I looked at pictures of me riding steeplechase at a long format- the forward thinking gallop helped me wait for my horse and keep my leg where it should be (or close at least) and my knee was no where near my knee roll, and in a couple pictures the angle is quite open. They could have gone up another 2 holes! But you can't do it all at once or you could pop yourself right out of the saddle.

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    1. she just has the cutest jump, right? and your point about the stirrups is well taken. i had them a hole shorter while i was riding in my friend's saddle, but put them back down again when i switched back to the bates. but.... probably they actually need to stay up.

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  5. Loooove how your canter has been developing! Super exciting stuff. The week before a show I try to plan on doing one each intense dressage and jumping ride, 1 hack/conditioning day, and then light flatwork the rest of the week. I give the pony the day off before the show. Pumped for your next Novice outing! :D

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    1. i'm so pumped about the canter!! it's just *right there* now - like, we both just know how to find that gear -- so exciting!! and that schedule makes a lot of sense too - hopefully it should fit in neatly within the next five days!

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  7. Great stickiness!!! She just gets better and cuter the higher she jumps!

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    1. omg i seriously thought i was going down!!!! haha - she did take care of me tho (even tho she shouldn't have stopped!! lol) so that's something... and yea i think she *really* likes the bigger jumps - esp when i stay out of her way :)

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  8. I love your progress! You really just keep developing Izzie and jumping bigger and better. Inspiring for sure to this lady who seems stuck on the struggle bus to nowhere. :P Love how you just popped right back into the tack after that hard stop like NBD! lol!

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    1. haha thanks! this horse makes it *really* easy to keep working at it! tho for something like 2 years, we were card carrying riders of that struggle bus to nowhere too so i totally get it. just gotta keep plugging away i guess. also - i was SO relieved to just pop back into the tack, that stop had all the ingredients for a very nasty fall!

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  9. i just love Izzy and man I feel like being away this month I have missed so much progress from you two!! You gals are rocking it!

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    1. omg she is just the coolest horse! (i could clearly gush forever lol)... i'm so glad Tillie is sound and in work again too, even if she's been a bit of a sassdragon about it. also i told trainer P that you will potentially join the occasional lesson when transportation is available and she was cool with it :)

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  10. I know it seems silly, but when I'm having trouble finding a good balance over fences, I do a lot of two point at the trot. First I'll do a long side here or there to find where that balance is and really settle in to it so it feels comfortable. Then I'll do a few strides posting, and few strides two point, and then back to posting. It really helps me practice finding that balance on the fly. I'll even do the second part at the canter some (If Isabel will allow it. Some of them get fussy). The biggest thing I focus on is not jamming my heels down, but stretching down into my stirrups. If you brace against them your leg will still swing back. If nothing else it will help build the right muscles too. :)

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    1. yup this is definitely something i need to integrate more of. actually my exercise of choice is more about half seat / galloping position rather than full on 2pt, but i'll jack my stirrups up a couple holes and then hold that position through trot and canter for as long as i can take haha. luckily at this point my lower leg *feels* really solid - it's not actually swinging back very much and i don't feel particularly unbalanced. but it very clearly shows room for improvement haha

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  11. You guys look so good! I'm no help the day before a show, with Rico I used to give him a day off the day before and a light hack two days before. TC is still so young that I just keep him on his normal schedule, whatever that ends up being. I do like to taper the work a bit so that their muscles aren't sore the day of the show though. Good luck!!!

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    1. thanks! i find that isabel really thrives with a regular schedule - the times that i've intentionally given her more time off didn't really work out the way i expected, she actually gets more dull with less work. but the idea of 'tapering' makes a lot of sense

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  12. She's such a cute jumper!! Have fun this weekend!

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  13. Man, that was a nice save coming through the grid, I'm not sure I would have pulled that one out!

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    1. i'm sure i definitely could *not* have stuck it if her neck weren't up lol... so she gets credit for that i suppose

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  14. Love how much progress you guys are making! The long mane might be turning into your look, haha.

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    1. thanks! the long mane is..... not the look i would choose, were the choice mine to make. but izzy seems to rock it and it's shockingly low maintenance so.... it'll do!

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  15. She could be a reiner. Darn athletic! lol

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    1. lol right? the stop is strong with this one haha

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  16. Looking super cute at novice height! Good for you for getting through that tough grid with the 18' distances. I'd be munching that hard and then it would eat me.

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    1. yea... it was... challenging haha. and isabel has a relatively short stride, i can't imagine how a horse with more step like Eli would handle it. it was effective tho - she jumped super well after that!

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  17. These jumps have gotten laaaaaaaarge. Wow. That was a hard stop. Kudos to you for staying on because I would have been in the dirt.

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    1. i'm just grateful the mare stayed centered underneath me haha bc... yeahhhh that kinda stop is not usually one i can stick

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  18. I happy you are improving! Those are pretty big jumps; and Isabel looks super cute over them.

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    1. thanks - i honestly think she likes the bigger jumps and somehow seems easier to ride over them

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  19. I would have fallen off for sure hahah, you stuck perfectly! I love the shot with Isabel's pre-workout salad :P

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    1. haha she loves taking the 'tasting tour' up to the arena

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    1. oh man it's such a fun feeling !

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  21. those jumps look so big next to her! she makes them look easy though!

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  22. Springs. So many springs. And GAME FACES. The two of you. Love it.

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    1. haha i love all her various expressions.... my own? ehh sometimes they get a little funny looking when i'm repeatedly clucking at the mare lol

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