Friday, September 18, 2015

boring basics w/a side of atrophied core

Pretty much all we did this lesson was canter. And canter. And canter. I set the helmet cam up on the fence line to try to collect meaningful bits of information.... but, eh, we get what we get. (and really, what I got was a big heaping dose of the fact that I'm *still* not sitting up straight through my back - my right side collapses like nobody's business.... ugh)

mare really does try
While warming up, Dan had me start to introduce counter canter by riding the long sides, doing a tear-drop shaped loop back to the rail and continuing in counter canter until the corner, where we would transition to trot. Isabel did quite well with this, but it took me a couple passes to realize that the downward transition was just as important as everything else.

Apparently we 'flop' into our downwards, and Dan said Isabel was old enough and schooled enough to be better than that. Well.... um, I'm the only one schooling her and I honestly haven't been working on it. So... my bad? And actually, based on my little analysis (so handy!) the downwards are the best part of our canters so, I guess they can't be that bad. Or maybe they are, but really everything is so bad that they just look better by comparison? Idk haha.

emma siiiiiiit downnnnn!!! 
Whatever the case, he was adamant that all transitions are important always, and we need to work on it.

So we kept working on it (and the canter, always the canter) by doing teeny tiny canter circles as collected as I could possibly get (which involved much tapping of whip to keep Izzy from breaking). Then transition down to trot - except he really actually wanted it to feel like we could go to walk.  I don't think I ever quite got us stepping immediately into the collected trot that he wanted to see... but I maybe understand, at least, and will work on it while schooling.

i love her little marching trot... but this was decidedly NOT what we were supposed to be doing
We kept that same canter through jumping. He had three set up - one across the short end of the arena, and two on the diagonals. Everything started super tiny - cross rails and a maybe 2' vertical. And I was supposed to keep that same exact teeny tiny collected canter and get as close to the base as possible. He didn't exactly want to see chip strides, per se, but in questionable scenarios he wanted us adding in another step rather than leaping from a gappy distance.

she's so super cute tho
It was actually harder than you might think (esp given my penchant for getting a little too close to the base anyway, you'd think I'd nail this kind of exercise!). He kept repeating the whole time we were cantering that I should be thinking of a canter-walk transition. Canter that tiny. Ugh.

Same story when the jumps went up. We would just circle over the end jump for a while, and when I got a couple passes where Isabel understood that she still had to land and get back to that tiny canter, then we could add in the diagonal jumps. And just continuing looping through all three for a little while, always landing and immediately getting back to that tiny canter.


This was really surprisingly difficult for us. Would have been easier if I had spurs, but mare still has that rub/bite/whatever and I didn't want to risk opening it back up again. So I jumped with a dressage whip bc I needed *something* to keep the mare cantering when she'd really rather break. Apparently it gets harder for her when she goes slower? 

Also it took so much freakin core to keep the canter together that I literally cramped up in the car ride home and could barely walk from the car to my home. Ugh ouch.... Perhaps that's another thing I need to work on? 


And last on the docket of 'things that need work' would be my position. My entire right side wants to shorten up when I'm working that hard - the leg comes up and the shoulder drops down. I think my left leg curls too, but not nearly to the same degree.

Dan noticed it particularly with my inside leg - it curls up and comes back. He went so far as to draw the above diagram in the sand (tho not quite far enough to shout 'tall straight and hard' at me, which would arguably be more effective). When we're on a circle the haunches need to come in - so if my inside leg is too far back I'm actually blocking the horse from doing the very thing I want it to do. My inside leg must stay down and at the girth. He also recommended carrying the whip in the outside hand for small circle exercises to help reinforce the point.

So yea. Another lesson spent chipping away at the basics. The things that are supposed to be 'easy' but actually kinda suck. Thank god for Isabel tho. She really is such a great horse - even tho she kinda hated this lesson and wanted to quit, she stuck with me when I asked and we were able to end on a really positive note. She's such a good learner too that I have no doubt it'll be easier next time. Fingers crossed!

22 comments:

  1. What a great lesson. It's so easy to forget the basics. We learn them so long ago and often they get over looked by us and our trainers in favour of working on something more difficult or more at our level. So good to get a reminder every now and then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's interesting - with this trainer in particular i think the better you become at more advanced stuff, the more he drills back into the basic stuff. he's always saying that this is what he's always working on with all his horses - simple yet *correct* riding, and that by habituating ourselves and our horses to the basics, everything else becomes easier

      Delete
  2. Those lessons are tough! But, going backwards and getting a better understanding of the basics can only send you forwards in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This has been the summer of canter for me, so I feel ya! That whole haunches to the inside thing is so hard, but so important. I've started carrying the whip in my outside hand at well, which helps. For the canter itself, my instructor tells me to think 'walk' when I'm asking for a downward transition to trot in order to help control it. And when I ask I need to sit REALLY tall and length my spine to the point where I feel like I'm exaggerating it. It feels funny at first, but it's working! Good luck! Once you get that nice canter it will feel soooo amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha yet again we are working on the same things. idk if you watched the video (and the sound quality is pretty low anyway) but while i'm jumping around you can hear dan saying to 'think walk' over and over again. that bit about sitting really tall is especially where i need a bit of work. i want to collapse down on the horse - or, conversely, pull my seat up out of the saddle. neither works!!

      Delete
  4. Now I'm feeling guilty for neglecting the same things in my riding. hehe. It's a good poke for what I need to work on.

    I also like the idea of your instructor drawing that circle, complete with the horse outline included. It would be a sand piece of art! it makes me giggle. (if you tell me he did include the horse, I think it will make my day)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. soooo.... it was *not* a sand piece of art lol. the circle was, ehhhh, egg-ish at best. and the 'horse' was just lines demarcating the nose and tail on the circle. still tho, it got the point across well enough lol

      Delete
  5. Fuzzy Friday morning thoughts for you:

    1) Your downward transitions from canter are going to be better (with no effort on your part) because canter gets your horse's back moving and allows her to be better. Thus, you score better in dressage, but it doesn't mean you're riding them well. Does that sound mean? I didn't mean it that way. Just that biomechanically, you can cheat more on downwards.

    2) Slow canter is hard as hell because it requires body control and core strength, hence all the breaking. It's easier to canter than trot bigger and it's easier to trot than canter slower. Isabel is smart, so she's trying to make things easy for herself.

    3) Possibly my favorite quote from another blogger right now is from Jodi at Racing to Ride, whee she said that where you're sore when you're done riding is where your horse is sore. Because your horse is your mirror. And stuff.

    God. It's too early.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha it's funny - i actually saw you reference Jodi's quote in a different comment and it's really stuck with me (esp through my ride last night when the mare wasn't feeling great and i reasoned that she's probably sore too just like me).

      as for points 1 and 2 - i think you're spot on. and no, it doesn't sound mean bc i honestly don't think i'm riding *any* of the canter well at this point, tho i'm certainly trying. that slow little canter in the video might not look like anything, but it was *exhausting* for both of us and really felt like much more work than i would have ever guessed. hopefully it'll get easier as we work on it!

      Delete
  6. My right side is my achilles heal as well, it just wants to curl up into a fetal position and die.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh man, that sounds tough! I have no core strength at all at the moment...slowly working on it. I hope you aren't too stiff! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thankfully not overly stiff haha, but definitely needs work!

      Delete
  8. I have one leg that cramps up and one that migrates toward the shoulder. Makes for a most unbalanced ride. Yay for lessons to work on the basics. You never stop improving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ugh i'm always whining about how crooked my horse is, but yea i'm pretty imbalanced too. damn symmetry!

      Delete
  9. She has some fabulous reach with her front, hey?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. tell me about it!! there's talent in there if i can ever get my act together lol

      Delete
  10. Emma, do you need more to come out there to yell PENIS! at you? You guys are still awesome anyways.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Isabel is SO cute. And damn, tiny canter sounds so hard. But y'all look so great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha thanks! it was definitely hard for me, that's for sure. not sure it's so impossible for everyone else but yea, this was a work out!

      Delete