Thursday, January 21, 2016

riding Star

As previously mentioned, our weekend plans got all scrambled when Isabel came in from the field lame at the walk. Boo, mare!

Likeliest scenario was an abscess, tho I was mildly concerned when the lameness seemed to switch from one leg to another depending on who was watching, or which direction you turned her. The vet was already scheduled for other horses so Isabel's owner added her to the list in case the shoe needed to come off. Verdict? Not even an abscess, just a bruise. Couple days with bute, and mare will be fine.

I was disappointed to miss the OF lesson considering it was possibly the last outdoors ride of the season, but them's the breaks. The disappointment *almost* compounded when I texted dressage trainer C to bow out of our scheduled lesson too, until she replied offering her own horse. Um, yes thank you, that sounds great!

hard to tell who looks more skeptical lol
Star is a ~17yr old 14.3hh Dutch warmblood with some draft, meaning that altho she and Isabel are the same height, she's substantially more built. She also has some typical WB bounciness, with a lot more movement across her back than I'm accustomed to with Isabel.

Riding-wise, Star competed through 2nd level, tho she has changes and perhaps some other 3rd level movements. Interestingly, C said the mare never scored well in tests, even when everything felt great, tho she has produced a very nice baby.

So anyways. I rode this mare in my lesson. And it was enlightening. As far as mares go, she has very similar mannerisms to Isabel. A bit aloof, and requires her rider to *commit.* She's also wayyyyy more educated and trained than Isabel (obvi), and it provided the perfect opportunity to let some of my flaws really shine. Ha.

looking marginally proficient at the trot (all in pink, natch)

My points of interest:
  • Needed shorter reins - I was overthinking C's warning that Star will go up if the rider gets too handsy, and reverted to the exact opposite of not enough contact.
  • Contact needed to be even and steady in both reins; get the mare filling both reins up. 
  • When mare goes inverted (happened often), carry hands lower and wider (with commitment) until she went round again, then soften both hand AND leg (Star has her own engine, no nagging, please Emma).
  • Star's turning radius is wider than Isabel's - I needed to steer more from the shoulder.
  • Star's rhythm depends on my post - post slower or faster and she responds accordingly.

getting absolutely tossed about in the tack (no i will not give you a gif, thankyouvermuch) at the lengthened trot

  • Hahahahahaha lengthened trot... hahahaha... and I thought I couldn't post Isabel's lengthenings.... hahahahahahahahahaha.
  • Oooh and we did sitting trot too (with even more laughter)... As it is now, I can't focus on my seat, legs, and hands all simultaneously. Goals: back needs to be flatter, with hips swinging up. Butt doesn't bounce, but crotch does. Should feel like a hinge at the belly button, hips flip up every stride. And need to push down into feet every stride. Oh and Star stops if you squeeze your thighs so no gripping! 
  • We did the sitting trot as a set up for the canter transition - Star requires very precise timing for this transition, and I totally biffed it a whole bunch for the left lead but nailed it for the right lead. Yay me!?

canter transition FAIL

  • It was very apparent how badly I struggle to apply my weight correctly - to step *down* into the side I want to weight. Honestly it took most of the lesson to figure out the right feeling. My tendency is to weight the wrong side.... as discovered last year in the clinic with Grant Schneidman... (yup still a problem). 
  • Same idea carries into leg yields - my weight needs to be down the inside, not outside, with a half halt on outside. 
  • And SAME IDEA into shoulder in - omg I seriously thought I would die of exhaustion. We did maybe 7-8 laps of the entire full size dressage court, working for true shoulder in down each and every long side.... fail sauce lol.
  • Cue was to bring her around my inside leg (with weight down that inside leg), and my outside elbow back and outside thigh on. Also needed to be WAY less reliant on inside hand, and point my stomach toward the centerline. Think: 'ride the angle of a 10m circle down the long side.' 
  • Once I finally managed to put all my body parts in the right place tho, we were actually able to turn it directly into a half pass. So that was kinda cool (I'd never ridden a half pass before).

no video of successful shoulder in or half pass (Brita had to go get ready for her lesson) so hear's another canter pic

So. Star. She's pretty cool. Similar enough to Isabel that I feel good about rehashing most of these takeaways with the red mare. But, more importantly, she helped me figure out just how much my own positional issues are impeding Isabel's ability to do the things I want her to do.

This lesson was empowering in other ways too: Trainer C sorta just told me to go ride sitting trot and shoulder in and half pass. No big build up or explanation, just 'go do it.' Then I did it and kinda failed, but from there C could tell me, 'ok fix this' or 'add that,' and combined with sheer repetition, I could actually feel my limbs going where they needed to be.

It's easy enough to say "put your elbow here" or "move your hip thusly," to lecture on the technical intricacies of position. But if I never actually *feel* it in action, I'll never figure it out. So I kinda like that C just says - "Go do such and such" then refines it from there. So far it's working for me!

42 comments:

  1. That sounds like such a cool lesson!

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    1. definitely very educational!!! ;)

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  2. I love it when you get opportunities to play like this. They are so enlightening.

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    1. seriously! it can sorta feel a little defeating to ride a school master and kinda utterly fail... but at the same time they have so much to teach!

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    2. I've gotten on a schoolmaster and it took me a solid 20 minutes to figure out how to get him to trot... And it wasn't my first time riding him but I wasn't in a lesson and apparently forget everything. He didn't respond to leg for faster that only caused him to lengthen. You had to start trotting with your hips (whips/spurs/leg did not work)....
      Talk about feeling like an idiot... :)

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    3. ha omg i think i would have crawled into a hole and begged for a merciful death.... at least, that's how i felt after a handful of totally fail-tastic attempts at a canter depart!

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  3. excellent lesson! Sound alike Star really makes her rider work for it!! And I like the sitting trot analogy - that's a really good way to putt into words!

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    1. honestly star was super good - it's not so much that i *had* to work, it's that she just needed me sitting correctly. which, due to my poor habits, turned out to be a lot of work for me lol. once i got myself correct tho, she was quite straight forward and easy (story of my life, btw)

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  4. What an awesome lesson! I love how your trainer just sends you off to do the thing, and then brings you back to refine it after you've given it the old college try. GREAT description of the sitting trot, also! I could feel it in my body as I was reading!

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    1. this trainer is just working SO WELL for me! and it's actually not so much as a quiet send off then return for debrief, she's giving constant feedback while i ride - but will just say as i round the corner, 'now shoulder in down the long side' and as i begin to do it (and fail lol) then she'll start immediately with feedback as i'm actively trying to do the thing so that i can feel the changes and improvements as they happen. it's very cool!

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  5. Such fluffy! Much white! So dressage! :)

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    1. ha she was very fluffy and very white - and alllll cute!

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  6. Riding schoolmasters is awesome! Lucky you!

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    1. it was definitely a treat! i've never really ridden anything trained beyond 2nd-3rd level, and even so this is the first time i tried to do actual movements on such a horse. it's different!

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  7. ohmygosh Star! Such a cutie/mare face/rocking the pink..lol:) It's so good to get to ride different horses.

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    1. doesn't she look precious in pink? she even had a darling pink cooler too - and the color was just perfect for her build, features etc haha. and i *love* riding different horses. none of them are quite my girl, ya know?, but they all have something to offer

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  8. What a great lesson and cute mare. Love the point about pointing the stomach towards the centre line.

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    1. i liked that visual a lot too, even tho i seriously struggled to actually *do* it haha. my body wants soooo badly to twist the opposite direction lol

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  9. sounds like Star is a great teacher!

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    1. definitely! she made it *so clear* when i was wrong and when i got it right. very helpful!

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  10. Great opportunity! I love when trainers say "just go do it"- it's a big reason I'm with my current trainer (aside from the fact she's excellent anyway). You can talk all the theory you want, but it isn't going to teach your body parts to do the theory! Just have to do it!

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    1. ha i agree completely! at this point in my training i have a hard enough time as it is isolating specific body parts and riding independently with them... except if i learn by feel i ought to eventually be able to put it into words, right? maybe? haha idk

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  11. Riding a more schooled horse is always great for bringing out our flaws lol but then you can really grind away and work harder right!?

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    1. exactly!! hopefully this will be just the kick in the pants i need to really make a difference in this particular aspect of my riding

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  12. What a great lesson! I am loving Star's matching pad/bell boot combo...she is like a fancy dressage my little pony. :)

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    1. ha isn't she adorable? she definitely had a lot of personality ;)

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  13. Ohhh, I want the fluffy white pony! So cute. Seriously though, that sounds like a really productive ride. I'm signed up for some lessons on my trainer's (hot/green) warmblood mare because she thinks it will be helpful for me. I will be starting out skeptical also ;)

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    1. ooooh that's exciting!! i hope you get a lot out of it! it's kinda hard to commit that time/money/energy to a lesson that isn't with *our* horse... but then again Star was able to tell me things very directly and clearly that Isabel doesn't know any better about (ie, isabel is so used to my way of going or whatever that we make do despite my issues)

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  14. Yessss. This is the #1 reason why I always try not to pass up an opportunity to ride a schoolmaster, if offered of course haha There is SO much learning that happens in such a short amount of time for the rider. It very easy to get complacent with horses that we are familiar with

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    1. i agree! most of my riding career has been spent riding multiple horses but lately it's mostly just isabel...

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  15. I like how you really broke that shit downnnn

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    1. ha writing it all out is one of the most effective ways for me to learn it ;)

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  16. Someone once told me to try to touch my belly button to my nose when sitting the trot. It's weird but it works for me.

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    1. huh inneresting, i can see how that might help, must try!

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  17. That mare looks like a hornless unicorn.

    And I just had the same weight distribution talk. Boo for weighting incorrectly. My body has no effing idea what it's doing and my brain doesn't seem to get it either.

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    1. ha i totally see the unicorn!! and yea my body is equally clueless, ugh. like i *know* what i should be doing, but my body is like, no no no, totally wrong, we'll alll diiiiieeeee.... le sigh.

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  18. Sounds like a fabulous lesson! It is bittersweet to ride other horses

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    1. definitely bittersweet. hard to not be chipping away with isabel, tho i think this ride was definitely an important and valuable lesson

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  19. Glad to see you back in the saddle! Abscesses are the worst - glad to hear it was just a stone bruise in your case :)

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    1. i'm pretty relieved about that too. isabel has just been such a sound horse for the 3 yrs i've leased her - only other lameness was... a stone bruise. ha. i'll take it!

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