Thursday, January 14, 2016

dressage in jumping

Lesson day this week was another balmy January day - quite a bit warmer than last week's lesson. And the horses responded accordingly lol. Last week everyone was FRESH and SASSY, and this week we had quieter, more business-like ponies. Isabel was still quite happy tho :)

target acquired!
She flatted *really* nicely, just like our recent epic dressage lesson. And actually, this was maybe the first jump ride since getting back to work where Isabel easily and quickly softened to my hand at walk and trot before each course. That's been missing from recent jump rides, and I'm really happy to have it back bc it essentially indicates whether I'll have a half halt or not. 

yes ma'am, i think we can do a 12' stride
And this lesson proved to be all about the half halts. Trainer P set up a neat exercise of roll backs and long-ish straight approaches. The kind of exercise that tattles on you if you have a blah canter or are unbalanced. And also the perfect exercise for working on landing the lead, which you may recall we had been practicing before my injury.

not the prettiest illustration ever, but you get the picture
I kept the warm up to a minimum, just doing a couple pieces from 1-1 (like canter to trot transitions on the diagonal, and the 10m half circle changes of direction at trot, and one itty bitty trot lengthening), to avoid wearing the mare out prematurely. With it being so balmy out, I definitely worried about her getting too tired.

#flying
It was fine tho. We started jumping by working through ground poles that turned into trainer P's favorite: a one stride grid. Then moved immediately into the exercise, with all the fences (all oxers) again staying right around 2'6".

gratuitous slo-mo bc why not lol
Isabel felt really good - we still had all that same forward energy from last week, but having a better half halt this time around meant that our canter was way more adjustable. This proved to be a very good thing bc man, that 18' one stride was tight distance-wise lol.

her canter has so much lift right now, i love it!
I again worked on remembering to half halt early enough in the turn to the fence such that I could ride *forward* (but not fast) to the fence. So far so good on this account, tho P reminded me to not get too forward with my upper body while doing so; I still have to sit UP. 

funny expressions all around haha - but i love her listening ear lol
I'm also getting a little overly-rounded with my back over the fences. That part of my position has never been picture-perfect, but it's gotten a little worse. It's partially from general weakness. But also maybe bc I'm trying to be more forward with my hands but struggle to keep my shoulders back while doing so. Also my stirrups went down to accommodate the stiffer ankle, but I think they might be ready to go back up again. We'll see if that makes a difference. 

she's totally got this
In all, tho, it was just another round of jumping that makes me feel really good about where Isabel is right now. Her fitness isn't fully recovered yet, so we quit early even while the rest of our lesson mates got in another shot with one of the jumps put up a bit. 

We will be ready to jump bigger again soon (hopefully before we get relegated to the indoor for the season!), but there's no reason to push it. Isabel is clearly ready mentally, but I'd hate to exhaust her physically when she's doing such a nice job and getting all the answers right (like our leads - we landed all but one!!). 


In the meantime, I'm pretty excited at the prospect of drilling into our dressage work. Especially after seeing the difference in our half halts and canter work between last week and this week, with no real jumping in between. 

After telling P about how well Isabel did with that first level test 1, she said it made sense since that test requires a forward ride. Aaaaand there's another 'bingo' moment for me lol. Forward. The answer for Isabel is always, and must always be, forward. Not fast, sure (which Dan always nailed us for), but definitely not backward. 

And right now Isabel is feeling so loose and soft through her body - she's very happy to move forward into the bridle and contact; whereas before she maybe was a bit resistant. This is definitely a feeling I want to maintain even was we get into more intense work.

36 comments:

  1. Forward but not fast is so important and soooo hard to find some days....

    Also Izzy has the most majestic tail flip ever.

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    1. Yes!!! Love her tail flip! And you two look absolutely fantastic!

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    2. thanks :) she likes to flick that thing all over the place, it's kinda adorable!

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  2. im slowly becomng obsessed with your horse... she looks FUN to jump.

    and forward but not faster i believe is the holy grail of all riding. im struggling with it myself at this point

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    1. ha i'm right there with ya on the obsession thing... this entire blog is pretty much a shrine to isabel lol.... but yea the forward but not fast is essentially the primary thing we've been working on for.... months? feels good to know it's still in there even after a break!

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  3. Replies
    1. i think she feels really great right now too!

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  4. She is putting a lot more weight into her hind end. You guys look phenomenal.

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    1. thanks! i think the time off did wonders for her physically, she just feels really comfortable and easy :)

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  5. Dang, you guys look awesome over that oxer!

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  6. You guys look amazing!! I cannot believe how much more 'up' Izzy's canter has gotten, and your position stuff will sort right out as you get more riding fit. Way to go!!

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    1. her canter was definitely on point this ride - super adjustable and balanced. i like it!!

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  7. You guys look fly! Love that canter!

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    1. thank you! she was really GOING haha

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  8. I love the slomo gif with the blazeface getting a hug

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    1. ha isn't that adorable? we're all horse lovers here <3

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  9. You both look great! I love Izzy's expression over jumps!

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    1. thanks - i just can't get over how happy she is to be jumping again! she was never exactly sour before, but there were definitely 'blah' days. perhaps there will be more days like that (esp during indoor season boo), but for now i'm enjoying the enthusiasm!

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  10. Ok that GIF is AWESOME! You guys look so good

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    1. ha thanks! i love watching her go :)

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  11. Replies
    1. lol i may or may not have gotten inspiration from your blog lol

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  12. It always amazes me how the dressage makes such a big difference with the jumping. We have often said that Violet and my problems have never been the actual fences, but the spaces in between. Good job!

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    1. ha yup - i've been repeating that mantra to myself for pretty much ever. tho oddly, with weird confidence issues, frequently the jump itself *is* my problem... speshul, no? lol

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  13. She is just too cute... You can tell she loves her job!!!

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  14. Yes, forward! I think forward might actually be the answer to the universes questions. I just can't get over how much of a little beast Izzy is!

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    1. ha such a beast :) and yes, forward forward forward for ever and ever and ever amen!

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  15. OMG that first picture. She looks so happy and content with her job.

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    1. there's nothing quite like the feeling of her carrying me to the fences like that :)

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  16. My trainer always talks about the "dressage between the jumps" hah

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    1. my last h/j trainer would say the same thing!

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