Tuesday, February 9, 2016

more test riding

Slowly but surely, my lessons with dressage trainer C are moving towards an approximately weekly schedule. Super exciting, seeing as getting into a regular dressage program has been a priority for more than a year at this point.

Technically we've been riding with her since March of last year, but the timing ended up being more sporadic than I had anticipated... Mostly bc of my show schedule and budgetary restrictions from already lessoning twice a week with Dan and trainer P... We'll see how things shake out this coming season.

can't be bothered to pose for pics when there's alfalfa to be had...
For now tho, I'm pretty much gobbling these lessons up and squeezing out as much value as possible. Alas, no real media from the most recent ride - but still plenty of nitty gritties (per usual).

This was our penultimate lesson before next weekend's show, so we went through all the movements and whatnot necessary, plus we rode through Training B.

Test Riding - USEF 2014 Training Eventing Test B:
  • I liked the way this test rode - I should be able to remember it (hopefully) and there wasn't a ton of 'blank space' between movements.
  • It starts with a weird figure 8 movement in the center of the arena - must not forget to change post between the two circles and ride straight for a stride between changing bend 
  • In leaving the figure 8, I did a good job of leaving circle, going STRAIGHT, then turning at rail. Must remember that feeling!
  • The canter work comes up pretty fast too - with two circles ridden back to back - first 15m in working canter, then 20m in lengthened canter. 
  • Make sure first canter circle isn't too big (geometrically), if anything err on the side of slightly too small.
  • Second canter (our tricksy right lead depart) comes after free walk change of rein. Pick up the trot into the corner a hair early and stay just off the rail moving into the depart so I have room to push Isabel out (don't bury her in the corner tho!).
  • The stretchy trot didn't really happen in the test ride. We're getting the stretch fairly dependably in schooling, but it's generally not 'on cue' and can be slow to develop. So just plunking down a 20m stretch circle in the middle of a test is hard for us right now. Not sure this is fixable in a week... oh well!
  • If I overshoot the centerline, don't scramble to get back on it - just ride the line I end up on (in other words, don't make it obvious that I goofed haha)
  • Keep leg ON through halt until the halt is fully established and immobile. 

there's the pretty pose!

Position / Aids Takeaways:
  • Must remember to take my legs *off* when I'm not using them, esp that right leg. Don't let it curl up and cling!
  • Sitting trot is getting better - it doesn't look as shitty as it feels (feels... shitty haha). I must remember to sit up and back.
  • For sitting trot, leg needs to be WAY looser. think push into the stirrup with my big toe, but let calf and ankle move freely
  • Canter transitions from sitting trot are really getting super reliable and nice tho!
  • Need to be more prepared for canter-trot transitions, more leg and thigh, so Isabel doesn't "hop" into them.
  • Leg yields were a little better this week, and actually leg yielding left was almost kinda good. Think inside leg to outside thigh and hand. I'm still grabbing at the inside rein but am working on it... 
  • For leg yield, we still end up leading with the shoulder a bit, but C wants me to at least focus on maintaining control of the shoulder and keeping her straight through the shoulder - don't let her point her chest toward the rail or we end up just riding the diagonal. Oops... 
  • For trot lengthenings - don't start posting until after I make the turn onto the diagonal (for tests ridden in sitting trot)

latest addition to the mare's diet
General Takeaways for Ponykins:
  • It's time to start getting real about moments of inversion and hollowness - make it unpleasant for Isabel to be there. Hands get WIDE, legs go ON. Then I can soften when she softens. C compared it to talking with a child - be very clear in the distinction between 'very good' and 'very bad'
  • Isabel is naturally narrower through her shoulders than through her hind end. I must therefore be careful that she's not poking her hind legs *in* on the track - when I look at the mirrors I should only see two legs. This doesn't mean ride in shoulder in, but just be aware.
  • I haven't been wearing spurs since recovering from my broken leg, and so far so good. C thinks that if things are going well enough without them, all the better. 

Phew! I seriously never expect these bullet point lists to get so long... but the more I write the more I remember and suddenly the list grows and grows.... It's a good thing, tho, I think.

Some riders are blessed with a very natural feel for horses and riding and can easily create very beautiful moments and ways of going in their horses. And often without even really understanding why or being able to explain how they do it.

I am, uh, not that natural type of rider. I'm literally trying for every single step, and thinking out every single movement and effort. And am often fighting against my own natural proclivities and habits. So while I want to avoid getting trapped in the cycle of overthinking everything, it's important for me to be aware. Knowledge is power haha!

32 comments:

  1. It sounds like you guys are well prepared for the test runs. I get stuck in the cycle of over thinking...oops :)

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    1. i seriously over think things too.... always and forever lol. and it means i end up overriding everything, much to poor isabel's chagrin. oh well, we can try, right?

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  2. I definitely err on the side of overthinking most of the time, and of course the better work comes when you let it happen on its own a little bit!

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    1. it's so hard to turn that part of my brain off! but actually - i think the most obvious example of things working better when i just let it flow are the canter departs from sitting trot. they are really just sooooo much better than posting, kinda makes me feel like maybe i'm an idiot when going for the depart while posting now haha

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  3. When you have to learn it explicitly to do it (unlike the "naturally do it right" folks), your hard-won skills will transfer readily to every horse you ever ride. The learning each grubby detail thing, as dreadful as it is, will also help you analyze and problem-solve your riding and your horses on a very granular level. Instead of having it 'just work' you'll (have to) learn exactly how all of the grubby detail pieces go together, which of your pieces is not working, and how to fix that piece if it's not working. It's not easy, but if you persist, you'll have a grasp of the material that far exceeds the 'natural feel' of the talented-but-lazy. (The natively-talented-AND-hardworking, well, I ain't gonna lie. Probably you're not gonna beat them... but they grow up to be like the Beezie Maddens and the William Fox-Pitts and so forth.)

    I'm so excited for your show! Fingers crossed, over here! I live vicariously through your stuff in the winter because I'm mired in an endless slog of walk-trot work due to ice, mud, muddy ice, and icy mud. Ugh. Spring, any day now...

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    1. my fingers are crossed too, bc weather always seems to intervene in the least opportune moments (in fact it's snowing right as i write this... but i think it'll be ok). and thanks - i've definitely heard that in the long run, riders who work hard tend even with less natural talent can still end up doing quite well. it's just a slog !

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  4. It's so hard to take the leg off, especially lower leg for me. I know it's from weakness in my seat but gah - obey me, body!

    Rebecca (backinthetack.wordpress.com)

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    1. OMG I can finally comment on blogger for the first time in MONTHS

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    2. yayay for being able to post on blogger again!! but yea, i'm right there with ya on the weak seat and stuck leg bit.... even when i think i'm paying attention to it, that leg still finds a way to glue itself onto the mare...

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  5. I LOVE your lesson recaps from your dressage lessons with C! So many good, solid reminders in each and every one.

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    1. yay glad you enjoy them too! sometimes i feel like i'm studying for school when writing these posts out lol, but then i can actually read through everything before my next ride or show and it pays off..

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  6. That first picture looks like you took out all the color except Isabel, gotta love winter ;) Great lesson recap, thanks for sharing all the lesson wisdom tidbits!

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    1. ha you're right - i hadn't even noticed that!

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  7. Good lesson recap! Thinking out every single movement is so awesome at this point. Your creating correct muscle memory and really solidifying your knowledge of cause and effect (which is a real bonus while schooling on your own in between lessons). So jealous! My brain usually flies the coop in difficult movements and my reactions are more instinct. Without coach yelling the correct aids, I can sometimes feel a bit lost. :( Good luck at the upcoming show!

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    1. ha i certainly hope so about the 'correct muscle memory' thing! right now it feels more like i'm finally starting to isolate *which* muscles i want to be using and discovering how it feels when they're used incorrectly, since that's sorta where i am right now, and then theoretically i'll be able to fix it as i go along... we'll see!

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  8. Love your lesson recaps. I have such difficulty remembering all the details of a lesson. I sometimes wish that I had video.

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    1. video definitely helps me remember... more often than not tho i'll sit down immediately after a lesson and start typing notes into my phone. the more i write, the more i remember, and i'll go back and add more and more... it's a little onerous sometimes, but i love having the notes to look back on!

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  9. Great recap. I bet trainers love you for how much you absorb from your lessons!
    I did not know that aloe vera was edible - what's the plan with that?

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    1. I should have included this before, but did you ever see Archer? Cheryl/Carol just walks in eating an aloe vera plant...

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    2. ha no i never saw that episode lol... sounds kinda ew! the aloe juice is for isabel - it supposedly helps soothe gastric issues like ulcers etc. i've always been pretty skeptical, but some people swear by it and it's cheap so... we're giving it a try.

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  10. Love your lesson recaps. Also the second pic of Isabel. Such a pretty mare!

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    1. glad you like the recaps too ! they're kinda fun to write, honestly ;)

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  11. I love this recap. Obviously I'm not a dressage rider, but it's interesting to see the similarities in the 'showmanship' aspect of it in presenting your horse the best way possible (ya know, in addition to do EVERYTHING ELSE)

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    1. ha you're right tho - that's an interesting way to think about it bc the horse goes (and looks) the best when we set them up as well as possible for success (like giving isabel more space off the rail to move into a canter depart).

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  12. Thinking is HARD. I end up thinking too much, instead of letting what little bit of natural whatever-you-want-to-call-it I have(not talent) kick in. Sounds like you are ready!

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    1. yea there definitely needs to be a balance in allowing things to flow rather than trying to micromanage every little thing.. we're workin on it tho!

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  13. I want lessons every week... so fun!

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    1. omg so fun! sometimes i wish i owned my own horse... but really most of the time i'm grateful that i have the extra cash from not paying board to pay for lessons instead!

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  14. You'll have to tell me how you like the Aloe for her!

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    1. i'll hopefully be able to follow up in a little while, tho it'll be hard to say what exactly might make any difference since we've changed an awful lot all at once (she's eating more frequent meals and actually more food altogether, and she has access to alfalfa for whenever she's in the stall or trailer...). so far she's eating it just fine tho!

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  15. Awesome points! Winter is such a great time to really turn up the dressage!

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