Friday, January 29, 2016

if it weren't for that pesky rider....

The recent snow storm interrupted our lesson plans yet again - marking the second weekend in a row that Isabel had to miss out on everything. But. Liberating the trailer meant that we could take advantage of the surprisingly clear roads to get over to TM for a make-up ride!

Per usual, I have all kinds of nitty gritty takeaways from the ride, and quite a bit of footage that I'm documenting for referential purposes. It's split into two videos... but still, it's a lot and I don't necessarily expect anyone to actually watch any of it - but there's instruction in there that I need to remember and continue digesting so... it's posted haha.

trailer mate Birdie jussssssst barely fits in my Calico, thus the hat haha
also, thanks to Jen's 1,000 Post Contest prize, we now have a full set of white brushing boots. makes us a legit dressage team now, right? lol
TL;DR Version: Isabel was predictably a total star and got to work right away, despite having only been ridden once in the past two weeks - our ridiculous porpoise-like romp through the snow.

We rode most first level movements, except 10m circles and canter lengthenings. And we tackled the sitting trot in a big way, especially given Carly's observation that, um, Prelim A (which we're riding at a schooling show in February) must be ridden in sitting trot. Gulp.

I have a LOT of work to do in my position and balance in the saddle - particularly as it relates to being even from side to side. But it remains clear that Isabel is totally game despite my shortcomings, and that these movements are well within her ability.

It's not always very pretty or balanced right now as I sort myself out - but again and again Isabel demonstrates that she can make it happen when I do my job (and often even when I don't haha).

pictured: not the very prettiest trot lengthening ever, but it's definitely in there

For the feature length version, read on :)


Part 1: Warm Up & Trot Work
  • Ride the outside shoulder - making the outside of Isabel's body longer than the inside. Turn from outside shoulder, pushing her away from inside leg to bow body out and away. Keep inside rein open, with a 'wiggle wiggle' action on outside rein. 
  • My elbows must be mobile - create an 'open' feel not 'backwards' feel. 
  • Stretchy trot (1:45) - soften and round her back to help her loosen up, esp after not working for a while. Tap inside leg to ask her back to lift. Don't slip reins, instead have more mobile arms (a theme).

loosen that back, mare!
  • Post evenly from both hips; a deliberate up-down post, not just shuffling forward and back (2:50). My right hip has more of a 'kick' and comes back further than my left. Needs work.
  • Think of pointing torso towards inside of circle (3:45) and bringing my inside shoulder back.
  • When Isabel does drop her head down, give more rein so she can open her throat latch and not curl under.
  • Leg yields from quarter line to rail to warm up (around 5:00; 5:45; 6:10) - post straight ahead, don't get crooked and uneven. Keep equal weight in both sides. Immediately upon reaching the wall, close outside thigh to turn into 15m circle. 



Part 2: Sitting Trot & Canter / Counter Canter
  • Remember to think about softness to the inside rein. Use my post to get more trot - but not big long and flat trot, I want more 'up and down' trot (0:50) and to feel the moment of 'pause in the air' in Isabel's shoulders.
  • Sitting trot (snort) - instruction for it from 2:15-4:00. I need to think about pushing down into my big toes in the stirrups every stride; making little 'J's with my seat bones. I also need to remember to keep my chin up and lengthen the front of my body. Trainer C says I have to 'move more to move less.'

sitting trot needs a lot of work, but there are good moments in there
  • My seat bones should make the same "J" movement at canter as they do in sitting trot. "Control the size of the J" to control the size of the canter.
  • Counter canter loop M-X-F at 5:00; K-X-H at 5:20. Keep it small through first portion to better balance through second half of loop, the harder half when Isabel is more likely to break.
  • Canter-trot transition at X at 5:40 - I'm mostly happy with our balance through these transitions so far.

feeling good about the balance of our canter, for the most part (also, plz to shorten reins emma!)
  • Our first trot lengthening is at 6:05 - and it was kinda a mess, but oh well. We're out of shape... She wanted us to really go for it, tho I need to not throw my reins away and keep us better balanced. 
  • More sitting trot at 6:50 - I need to think of pointing pelvis towards ceiling and sitting back more. And bring hands closer together.
  • Left lead canter transition at 7:45 (these transitions are actually pretty good from the sitting trot), then loops H-X-K and F-X-M, then canter-trot transition at X.

first lengthening was a little wild and wooly haha
  • My reins must be shorter. C says to err on the side of too short rather than too long.
  • Don't think of 'hold' when sitting the trot, think 'send' instead.
  • Second trot lengthening 8:55, not quite as big as first but more balanced (except, damn I can not sit that, nope, no how no way). This lengthening is plenty for a test.

second lengthening was better, tho more conservative
  • Leg yields from center line to rail in sitting trot 9:30 - this was kinda another shit show...
  • I need to do a better job turning onto the center line FIRST through the shoulders before beginning leg yield, otherwise we kinda end up just riding a diagonal. 
  • I also need to use more outside aids and less inside rein. Make sure my elbows don't lock either, and that I don't throw my outside rein away. I must ride Isabel straight over her outside shoulder.


Phew.... ok I think that's more than enough information overload for now haha. Virtual cookies if you made it this far ;)

But damn, I am LOVING riding with C more frequently - this lesson marked our fourth in January alone, and hopefully we'll stick with the weekly schedule through the winter.

It just kinda blows my mind watching Isabel in the videos - she looks so steady and willing in her work, even when I'm bouncing around doing god-knows-what in the saddle, or concentrating super hard on anything *but* what she's doing.

Actually, for a comparison - check out the video of us riding a BN test in this post, where we're all aboard the curled-under hot mess express. The biggest difference between then and now is really in just how *rideable* Isabel feels - esp her balance both laterally and longitudinally. We still need a lot of work, but just watching that video and remembering how shitty I felt about that ride makes me feel really good about where we are now.

Now we just need the weather to hold for the schooling show plans lol. Not to tempt fate or anything... ;)

44 comments:

  1. She looks super fun to ride. I enjoyed your snow porpoise photos, keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha the porpoise stuff was actually just as fun as trying to do this dressage thing. she really is a blast to ride!

      Delete
  2. You guys are looking great. When I'm on the sitting trot struggle bus I alternate sitting and posting. I sit until I feel I am getting out of whack them post get my balance back and sit again. This may be sit one post one to start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! we can more or less sit a little bit more than one post at this point, but yea that's the plan for practicing

      Delete
  3. You guys are looking great together!
    I'm so glad you found C and that you're both reaping the rewards of her lessons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. omg i am so glad i found C too!! it's really amazing what she's been able to do for us - she really just gets isabel

      Delete
  4. You two look great! She's got some sweet moves!
    I admire your snow-trailering. I'm too cowardly haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha the roads were totally fine - no snow to speak of. parking the thing tho... that was slightly more problematic haha

      Delete
  5. I love this, I love your trainer, I'm so excited for you to ride this Prelim test!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm excited too! hopefully it works out for us :)

      Delete
  6. Isabel is so damn fancy! I just want to eat her up and absorb her danciness...

    ... and the award for the weirdest thing said on the internet today goes to... ME

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha your award is in the mail ma'am.

      Delete
    2. You made me almost spit food all over my computer just now.

      Delete
  7. Oh gosh, she's a freaken Ferrari! Great coach and lovely work so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! and somehow i think she would be very appreciative of being likened to a ferrari ;)

      Delete
  8. I love watching the videos and your instructor is so thoughtful and fun! You guys are looking great! Two things one of my trainers says to me (a lot) is to shorten my reins and lengthen my arms (ultimately forces me to stop locking my elbows) and two think of my elbows as "elastic", so the contact with the bit doesn't stop at my hands but is fluid and soft through my elbows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! and yup that's pretty much exactly what C is saying to me too lol

      Delete
  9. Her lengthenings are SO PRETTY. I really feel like once you get them to be more consistent, the scores will be good. But then again, I'm a H/J princess and know nothing about dressage, lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! my trainer LOVES isabel's lengthenings haha, and they're super fun to ride :D they weren't really that great in this ride since we were a bit disorganized going into both of them... but when i have my shit together they are usually pretty awesome

      Delete
  10. She's looking super engaged and tuned in, something to totally be proud of!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks ;) she really is just so so so good, i couldn't be happier with her !

      Delete
  11. Your first lengthening may not have been textbook, but it was expressive, and that's always good to have! I too find the sitting trot to be a bit tricky, and I'm currently working on alignment as well as keeping the ankle soft. You guys are gonna do great again this year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha yup, she certainly has loads of expression - definitely helpful! and thanks, i'm pretty excited about this year, can't wait for winter to *go away*!

      Delete
  12. Fantastic job! You guys have come so far!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! i'm super pleased with how well she's taken to the work :)

      Delete
  13. I've always had a mare crush on Isabel, but DAMN that flat work is making her ten times sexier!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. if you're ever in the area again you'll just have to ride her and enjoy the experience first hand ;)

      Delete
  14. This mare is seriously a force to be reckoned with!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. she's something else, still not sure how i got so lucky to find her so randomly lol :D

      Delete
  15. You guys look so awesome!!! :D Fancy Isabel!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Look at that fancy trot! :D You guys looks awesome. I wish my hands were as quiet as yours! I'm also working on the posting more purposefully. Someone posted a comment on an earlier post of yours saying that it helps them to think about posting their belly button to their nose - this has really helped me with my posting (so thanks to that person!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. interesting! i've heard similar remarks - esp as it relates to flattening my back (rather than arching it) and it's definitely a useful visual! it always kinda cracks me up to think that posting is one of the first things we learn as riders... and yet 20 years later we might still be working on refining it lol... that's horses tho, i guess

      Delete
  17. wow! what a great lesson and recap!You look great and don't worry- all our horses have to "deal" with us sometimes...It's why we love them :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha omg that's the truth! and isabel is a SAINT ;P

      Delete
  18. That trot looks wonderful! Very active from behind, lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. she's just so good - i swear there's something about those lessons, whether it's the arena or trainer or magic fairy dust, but izzy is always such a star there!

      Delete
  19. I would have never guessed she could be so fancy! (and I don't mean that in a bad way!) Props to you guys and all your hard work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha seriously, i'm right there with ya! she's seriously taken me by surprise and i love it! :D

      Delete
  20. Dear life, please create a teleporter so Griffin and I can go take lessons at this awesome far away place. You two look so awesome. #trainerenvy ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha #shesprettyawesometho :) but seriously, maybe save up all your money (and/or donate a kidney) and come stay with us for a couple weeks and take alllll the lessons. it'll be like camp!

      Delete