Tuesday, September 15, 2015

on not melting in the rain

We made it back to OF for a lesson! For various reasons (holidays, vacations, ponies with fat legs, etc) we hadn't been to the farm since the starter trials last month, and hadn't been for a lesson since cross country schooling something like six weeks ago. Phew, it had been a while!

avoiding the rain for as long as possible
While I was quite happy to get back out for a lesson with trainer P, the circumstances were not quite ideal. Sure, we desperately need rain, and the break in the weather was much appreciated. But did it really HAVE to be drizzling for our whole lesson?

she knows how to stay busy with food
We rode outside anyway tho. The indoor is so tiny (20x40m!) and dusty, plus I think they were holding a birthday party or something in there. The outdoor is just so spacious and the footing holds up really well in almost all weather (except snow and ice), that it's a welcome change of venue from our arena at home, rain be damned.

is it just me or is she mighty cute?
All the same tho, Isabel and I hung out on the trailer until the very last possible moment haha. Anyways there were just four riders in the lesson and we mostly warmed up on our own. P was quite pleased with our flat work, which has smoothed out considerably from the resistance and evasions of our lesson with Dan last week.

Really tho, Isabel has been going VERY well lately and the work we've done with both C and Dan has been holding true in my solo schooling as well. So I was happy to show it off to P and hear her say that it was no wonder we had such a nice test at Olde Hope. Things are just clicking right now - Isabel seems to understand what I want, and with every ride I'm feeling more aware of my position and aids, and how to be more effective as a rider. Feels good man, feels good.

don't ever lend me a new saddle to try bc i will probably go riding in the rain with it... sorry kaitlyn!!
(also, behold the wonders of my shoulder-less arab)
P's primary instructions to me were to make sure I was stretching down with my legs and up with my torso while cantering. She wanted me to elongate myself - something I definitely struggle with. This also held true into jumping - where she wanted me focusing on quieting my upper body.

Honestly I know this is a weakness and I AM working on it - but I don't think it's the #1 priority. My upper body gets busy when I'm using a lot of leg - but right now I *need* that leg to get the right canter. Would the canter be easier to achieve if I were quieter in the saddle? Probably. But it's impossible to achieve without that leg. So... it continues to be a work in progress. Idk. Ugh.

two single oxers on shallow diagonals
So I kinda did my best at being more quiet while still working on that ever-important canter. I tried to go through the same steps I would in a lesson with Dan, but within reason (since nobody wants to wait around while I circle endlessly). Interestingly, it felt a little easier to put Isabel together tho. Like she retained that lesson or something.

triple bar seemed imposing in size, but rode fine
Trainer P was on a bit of a twist kick and had us start with figures of 8 over the two oxers above, then we added a looping turn to the triple bar, then another looping turn to the brown coop.

love coops
Isabel jumped REALLY well. She had one moment of questioning my commitment at the first oxer (to which I replied "yes jump please, right now, thank you.") and then made it to everything really nicely.

we rode the line from the oxer to the navy and green boxes
It was reassuring in a way. In last week's ride with Dan we only jumped when the canter was correct - and even then it was just a single jump. And it was SO MUCH WORK developing the canter for that one jump. So riding around a couple mini courses, and eventually a full course, with trainer P while maintaining that canter felt really good. Sure, it probably wasn't *perfect* every stride, but it felt like all our work on the turns to the jump and the final few strides is paying off.

tight 1 stride to a very forward 3
We all went down an outside triple combination once to get a feel for it (Isabel nailed it) then put together a full 10 jump course at BN height. Everything else was singles on a bending approach except for the line from the oxer to the boxes (jumps 2 & 3) and the final line of white vertical to white vertical (9 & 10).

I was first to go and opted against asking about the striding. They both looked to be anywhere from 4-6, tho the white line was longer. But I wanted to force myself to ride off my eye, since I'm not good at adjusting when I have a preconceived idea of how things should ride. So we ended up kinda biffing the green/navy boxes for jump three by squeezing in a fifth stride that would have been better had I balanced earlier.... Le sigh.

easy 5 strides down the white line, tight 5 (or really really going 4) from pink/yellow to blue/green boxes
But eh, that's 100% my fault and every other fence in the course rode perfectly. I was really pleased with the turns - remembering to dramatically half halt and re-balance so that I could move forward to the jump coming out of the turn (lifted shoulders please!). Isabel did everything I asked with no qualms and just made it all feel so easy.

stopped raining long enough for her mane to dry out
P said we could either be finished with that or go through once more at N height and I decided to be done. Sure, I need more mileage coursing at novice height - but frankly I already feel confident in both my and Isabel's ability to get that done. And this seemed like the perfect opportunity to reward Isabel's efforts by calling it quits without pushing for higher higher higher.

good mare is very good
So I'm quite pleased with the ride. No huge takeaways, no big breakthroughs. Just steady consistent flat work, and effective and economical and EASY jumping. These are the kinds of rides that help reaffirm my confidence in our training program and goals. This lesson's complexity was squarely in the BN category, and squarely within our capabilities.

I'm still not entirely sure what the future holds in that regard - we'll be going back to Olde Hope for another stab at novice on Oct 4 (Oktoberfest!!!) to try to smooth things out on cross country, and will hopefully school xc soon too. Ideally that'll help me feel more confident about staying at novice for the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy later next month. We shall see!

16 comments:

  1. What a good lesson. I like it when I get to work on concepts from previous lessons. It's so helpful for reinforcing skills.

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    1. i agree completely - one of my irrational fears is that i'll suddenly forget everything when set loose on my own (this is probably why i take so many lessons, actually) so any occasion where i feel reaffirmed that i do actually know how to do a thing is reassuring!!

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  2. Sounds like an awesome lesson! I hate riding in the rain/cold...because I'm a big baby.

    On a side note - I would love a post on trailers/hauling for newbies if you ever run out content ideas. I hope to get a trailer in the early spring and could use some expertise...:)

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    1. hm i will have to think on that. a couple other bloggers have already written more knowingly on that topic (i really know very very little beyond my own experience with one truck and one trailer), but perhaps i can dig around a little bit and aggregate some of those various posts and pieces of information into one place?

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  3. I love watching your guys succeed together.

    PS congrats on the best jump course diagram I've ever seen on blogger.

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    1. thank you! it's too easy to get caught up in the small disappointments and mistakes, so i make it a point to highlight when things are going well too.

      also, MS Paint and i are bffs foreva lol

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  4. I totally make people wait for a circle or two while I get my dressage skillz reinstalled lol. Great recap, you guys are doing so well! That farm looks beautiful too...sign me up for lessons there :)

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    1. haha if you are ever in the area definitely lmk and we will go riding!!! but yea, a circle or two is allowable in any lesson in my book. sadly it can take us far longer than that to actually get the desired response from ms mare thing, but whatever. we just got close enough and called it good

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  5. I just found your blog, since I just started blogging...and *love* it. Especially since I am just entering into eventing and am terrified. My guy goes to his first show with his trainer in two weeks, but I'm taking him schooling on Thursday and will show him after that first show.

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    1. aw thanks! exciting about getting started with eventing - it can definitely be scary, but luckily the fun outweighs the fear. good luck with your guy's first show!! and send the link for your blog so i can see how it goes :)

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  6. 1) your jump graphic is the best jump graphic in blog history! 2) yay for riding in the rain. I actually really like it. :)

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    1. lol thanks - i get this really weird satisfaction out of creating course diagrams in paint (thus why there's an entire tag devoted to the art). and i actually don't really mind riding in the rain either, unless it's REALLY coming down or the footing is getting bad. my mare used to have stronger feelings but seems more or less indifferent now

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  7. i love your course diagram to give a visual!!

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  8. That triple bar looks pretty big to me!!! Sounds like a fun ride!

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    1. it definitely gives the impression of being quite sizable, but in reality it's no bigger than 2'7". funny how adding width can make such a big difference!

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