Wednesday, October 14, 2015

here a lesson, there a lesson, everywhere a lesson lesson

Ok I'm combining two lessons into one post in an effort to not drone overly long about either. Last week was a biggie lesson-wise because I may or may not be trying to dot every 'i' and cross every 't' between now and Sunday. We are pretty much at our best in lessons, and my riding has to be as sharp and polished as possible if we're going to have a positive experience at this show.

mare has such pretty eyes
A barn mate asked why I entered the show if I was gonna get so worked up about it... and I guess it kinda caught me by surprise (this barn mate doesn't compete, so the whole emotional experience might be a little alien to her). I really AM excited about trying to move up. Am I nervous? A little scared? Well... yea, I am.

she's not particularly delicate about her hay tho! 
All those feelings are pretty hard to separate from each other anyway tho, ya know? And right now I don't feel paralyzed by them - rather, I feel a little pressure. Pressure to do my best, and pressure to give my mare a good ride. And so I prepare. (and prepare. and PREPARE.)

it cracked me up that izzy marched right over to this board and stepped right up, all on her own
Step 1 of that preparation: Stadium lesson at OF. As previously mentioned, last weekend was a doozy scheduling-wise, so I ended up squeezing into the morning lesson instead of our typical afternoon group. It was fine tho. Spent a while flatting (it was my first ride post-dentist for Izzy and she felt great) and didn't end up jumping a ton.

so naturally i had to take lots of pics haha. goofy mare!
Plus all the jumps were around 2'-2'3". Just enough to make me actually ride them (bc I hate how often I totally botch jumps that should technically be considered 'easier'), but not overly challenging for Ms Mare Stare.

just a cute skinny jump. we didn't actually jump it, but i like it all the same! 
But just for good measure, trainer P popped them all up to N height for us to do a quick 6-fence course. I was armed with neither stick nor spurs and lived to regret it haha. Fence 1 happened ok, fence 2 was a big ol' bag o chips, and fence 3 (the barrel oxer) was a refusal. Ugh. Sometimes tho I just need that refusal to remind me about my job. That whole 'margin of error' thing that means Isabel won't always fix my mistakes at bigger heights. And that, ya know, I should ride. (noticing a theme? lol)

fence 2 is just outside the frame on the left outside line, bending across the arena to 3
So I started over with a little bit more grit and determination (and a stick) and the course was actually quite nice. Honestly I kinda like a schooling session that reminds me how easily things can go south - but also demonstrates that the world doesn't end with a mistake either. All too often I slip into cruise control or passenger-mode, rather than remaining PILOT. And meanwhile Isabel was her usual good self.

this barn is so ridiculously pretty 
The next day we were off to TM to ride with dressage trainer C!!!! I'm ashamed to admit it had been nearly two months since we'd seen her... Not good, Emma! In my defense, tho, lessons with Dan lately have been private more often than not and therefore have included a strong focus on flat work... But still. Trainer C is a force. And she has done so so SO much for Isabel's and my dressage education. No serious show prep is complete without a visit to her farm. 

bc this is how we canter with her
Really tho I need to get back into a regular routine with her. She's fabulous for show prep - but has the most fun with us when I have no agenda and don't need to work on any specific tests.

and this is how we trot
But, as it was, we had an agenda for this lesson. So off to work we went. C's biggest repeated comments were about opening my inside wrist and getting more inside bend (shocker, right?), while maintaining a firm and steady 'handshake' with the outside rein. And she wanted a big powerful energetic trot (it always surprises me how different the trot she wants to see is from the trot Dan likes).

At the canter I was to stay light and slow in my seat (with weight down into my feet and thighs), and she was very pleased to see how our left lead transition has improved. Right lead transition is still... mehhhhh. But left lead transition is really getting there!

am i allowed to gush about how amazing isabel is? 
We ran through some individual movements from this weekend's test - specifically those weird changes of rein via turns from E to B. I dislike these turns and didn't ride them very well in the lesson. But I can do better - it's all about half halting and organizing and getting that inside bend in advance so it doesn't catch her by surprise. Duh. Lol. And C pointed out that I need to turn at E across the center sooner than I think, and then turn up the long side at B later than I think.

Novice B ends the same way as Beginner Novice B - with a free walk from M to E, then medium walk from E to K, trot transition at K, then turn down center line. And that final transition and center line turn share a single score. Our center line turns have the potential to score quite well - but the last few times I rode BN B, I biffed the transition and thus killed the score.

I need to really focus more on establishing the connected medium walk right away after finishing the free walk, otherwise mare gets against my hand and things get ugly and then I don't have enough room to create a nice balanced turn.

bc i happen to think that she's pretty much the coolest mare ever
Anyway, C also pointed out that I'm getting better about really pushing Isabel up into the bridle. We had talked about the mare getting her teeth done  - and whether it's bc she has a softer mouth and is more accepting of the bridle, or I'm feeling more confident about her *not* having any issues and am therefore raising the expectations, whatever the case there is improvement there.


Barn mate Kaitlyn was kind enough to snap a quick video too before getting ready for her lesson right after mine (her recap here). I just LOVE watching videos from lessons with C - she's giving constant insight and direction and feedback and really if I just had a recording of her voice whenever I ride everything will always be better haha.

hard to tell but there's a Tillie in there too!
So yea, it was an excellent lesson and Isabel felt beyond fabulous. I don't love the test itself but feel like I know how to ride it. We shall see haha.

After last weekend, I feel like we are schooled in two of the three phases: stadium and dressage. And guess what? A cross country lesson happened already too!! So, uh, details to come on that haha. Then it's just a matter of keeping the mare loose and moving and happy and healthy and and and... ya know, READY.

31 comments:

  1. YOU CAN DO EET!! I looooove your dressage trainer and she IS doing great things for you guys! GO FIGHT WIN!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man i love her too - i wish i could ride with her all the time!

      Delete
  2. Looking so good! You guys are gonna be great!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. i am dying over her canter - it has just developed SO MUCH even just over this summer!

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. i am *so* excited about her canter!!! (esp what it means for our jumping lol)

      Delete
  5. You guys look SO good!! Good luck this weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you!!!! we're working super hard at it - hopefully it'll pay off on sunday!

      Delete
  6. Isabel looks great! You'll be awesome this weekend! (And I don't like those changes of rein between B & E either. Or the short diagonal free walk. I have been hanging with the dressage people too much.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lolz i actually kinda like the short diagonal for the free walk bc isabel has a tendency to start out nice and stretchy, but then loses focus and pops up. so we have a better shot of 'faking it' on the short diagonal vs the long haha

      Delete
    2. Disagree. Short diagonal is WHERE ITS AT for me. I loves it.

      Delete
    3. yup i'm with ya there- the long diagonals just give me ample opportunity to show off exactly how disconnected and non-stretchy we really are lol

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. thank you! the horse is feeling REALLY good right now - hopefully we can hang on to that!

      Delete
  8. Awesome!!!! I love how focused your show prep is!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha thanks - i tend to be a very methodical person, it helps keep me calm. (tho my bank account sometimes wishes i'd be a little less crazy about it!)

      Delete
  9. you will own it!!! you both have been looking amazing lately!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love the canter pic. Have fun at the show.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I want a lesson with C! I can't wait to read about how your show goes. Preparedness for the win!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oooh you should totally come down for a lesson - what's a few hours drive anyway, right?

      Delete
  12. Holy trot. Uh, yeah, C is worth the weight in gold. Y'all look fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. she's pretty wonderful - i really don't know why i have such a hard time getting over to see her!

      Delete
  13. Wow, that trot and canter! I love the Novice B test (it's Pilgrim's highest score so far), but those turns definitely took practice to get the timing right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea it seems like the test itself isn't really meaningfully different - you just trot and canter in different parts of the court, and those turns. isabel has the ability to do very lovely center line turns, so i just need to channel that feeling for these, since it's kinda the same idea anyway

      Delete