Tuesday, February 16, 2016

sitting trot is hard, yo

By the time our last-lesson-before-the-show-that-was-not rolled up, it was already pretty clear from the forecasts that the show would be cancelled. Womp womp. I carried on with the lesson anyway tho, bc obvi. I'm a lesson junkie, what else would you expect?

Isabel and I arrived at the farm about 30min early, and I was in the saddle 20min before start time. Why? So that we could just walk on the buckle for 20 minutes. Doing nothing but sniffing the corners and mirrors and allowing Isabel to just stride out on nice non-jagged-frozen-mud footing and loosen up in her own time.

I think it made a nice difference too. We're only really riding 2x weekly at this point, and the ground conditions are such that Isabel isn't moving around a whole lot outside of our rides. So. We walked. And walked. And walked. And then finally started the lesson with the horse already a bit softened.

wishing this arena was at our barn so we could ride there all the time!
Even so, tho, Isabel was mostly just kinda so-so. She thrives on a routine that includes working more often than twice weekly, meaning that the first ride after a couple days off is usually met with a some resistance. She takes a little more convincing. No big deal, just the realities of not working enough...

But we pressed on, focusing on riding the horse where I wanted her to be and allowing her to slowly move up into that space. Trotting circles of varying sizes, long and short diagonals, serpentines, riding slightly off the rail, leg yielding from the quarter line, cantering a brief circle and long side in each direction... That's more or less our standard warm up these days.

Then we opted to go through the second planned test for the show, even tho all pressure was off at this point. And lemme tell ya - after this lesson, I may or may not have been a little relieved that the show was cancelled haha. Damn sitting trot, y'all.

must inspect every mirror during our indoor 'trail ride' warm up haha
Sitting the trot is just plain distracting for me; it takes up an awful lot of brain space. Combine that with trying to maintain rein length, keeping Isabel going nicely, and, oh yea, geometry and pace... and, well, it's not easy right now. At all. lol. Oh and let's not forget that Isabel isn't the only sufferer of a limited riding schedule - I'm also losing that saddle time and am therefore not exactly at peak fitness either...

Anyways, tho, we rode the test: USEA 2014 Preliminary Eventing Test A. Well, we never actually ran through the whole thing start to finish. Instead, we worked on the first half - all the trot work before the free walk - a few times in a row, then moved on to the second half for a couple attempts. This is how I plan to practice on my own too - tho I'll probably break it down to even smaller sections.

New additions to this test from Training B include: sitting trot (obvi. fml); 10m trot circles; leg yields from center line; shallow counter canter loops; and change of lead through trot. Not included: stretchy trot.

My impression is that this test would still challenge us even if it were ridden in rising trot, but add that sitting component and it becomes really much trickier than I would have expected. I like it tho. I think we can figure it out.

gotta sniff all the corners too. every time. always. 
Takeaways of Note:

  • Geometry. Omfg, Emma. Do not throw geometry out the window just bc you're sitting the trot! Seriously!?!
  • Specifically: ride my corners as deeply and accurately as possible to set up for that first little trot tour of 10m circle, change of direction from E to B, then another 10m circle. Isabel is nimble and handy - we should be able to make this happen nicely. 
  • The biggest trick to those movements is showing a distinct change from going straight to circling to going straight again. And NAILING the 90* turns onto and off of the E-B line. Trainer C noted that presenting a nice picture as we cross the arena is key.
  • First leg yield is our easier direction. Be prepared for the turn down CL, achieve straightness first, and then GO. Ride those shoulders, and get into that corner for the love of god. 
  • Trot lengthening should be fine, but transitioning back to working trot and reestablishing my sitting trot is REALLY hard. And that immediate turn back to CL for the leg yield in our harder direction comes up FAST. This is an area where I need to maintain composure, balance, and awareness. Plus maybe a half halt or two... ya know. lol
  • Next is a walk transition then free walk across the long diagonal. Despite my unreasonable fear of long diagonals for free walk, I'm actually not too worried for this test. The movements up to this point are so rapid-fire for us that we must stay completely packaged up. So Isabel is definitely ready for the stretch here. 
  • Then that series of movements that seems common in first level tests: free walk to medium walk to working trot to canter. boom boom boom. And naturally it's our harder right lead depart. 
  • This is another challenge for us. I MUST have Isabel soft to my hands before we even trot, and then must be sitting as well as possible to help with that canter transition. Realistically, tho, we'll often be hollow and above the bit here. Le sigh. 
  • Canter work in this test is pretty cool, and I think we should actually do well here when we're in regular work. On this particular day, tho, it was a little harder. 
  • Right off the bat you canter down the long side to E, where you circle 20m in medium canter (call me ridiculous if you want, but I got excited that they use the big girl word 'medium' instead of 'lengthened' haha). We can absolutely make that happen. 
  • What didn't really happen in the lesson was a distinct transition down to working canter. What can I say, mare has some energy right now. 
  • This translated to rougher counter canter loops than I know we can do. Again tho, I'm not worried here. This wrinkle should be smoothed with more frequent work.
  • Even more rough tho was the change of lead through trot at X. We were consistently late here and Isabel was a little too fussy. Again, when we're working more and can manage a slower and more balanced working canter I think this should (fingers crossed) be fine for us. 
  • Then another counter canter loop, and another transition to trot at X - this time staying in trot (SITTING trot, Emma!!!!). Finding my sitting trot after that downward is... ugh. So hard. My torso needs to be literally 6+ inches farther back than I want. 
  • Another lengthening across the long diagonal, then another shitty transition to sitting the working trot again, and immediately turn down CL to halt at X. And commence sobbing. lol just kidding


pictured: a new sparkly bright plaything about which i am SUPER excited and cannot wait to share more!!!
So ok, it's a challenging test for us given where we are in our training. Really tho, if it were ridden in rising trot I honestly think it wouldn't be so bad. Perhaps it's not totally fair to blame the complications on sitting trot... but that's just kinda how I feel. If we can ride more often I will gain more strength as a rider and Isabel will be her normal adjustable self and everything will be better.

Hopefully we'll get that practice in before the next show date!

39 comments:

  1. How seriously exciting is it that you can even attempt a prelim level test though? That's awesome! I'm sure it will all come together once we get out of stupid february and things get a little more conistent again. As for sitting trot? I think it's just a matter of practice...and I need to take my own advice there too lol, cause I love to avoid it! Especially going from canter down to sitting trot. I feel ya there...it hurts...

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    1. i gotta admit, it feels really exciting. isabel is taking to the work so well that i have no choice but to try and hang on for the ride. this test is essentially a first level test in a small court, meaning we've already been working on most of the movements... we'll see how it goes tho. def need more practice!!

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  2. I know S has trouble with this test. Her mare loves to canter and getting her back to a trot is like slowing down a freight train. You and Izzy will be fine. Sure you will have bobbles but that's dressage...

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    1. thanks! isabel actually has a really really nice transition down when all the stars align... but when they don't align? ha, it's a little dicier lol

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  3. That mirror selfie is THE CUTEST! You must be come oneeee with the sitting trot!

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    1. haha and now i'm repeating to myself: *see the sitting trot; feel the sitting trot; BE the sitting trot* lol

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    2. you ARE the sitting trot!

      but perhaps more accurate would be "see the horse's back, feel the horse's back, BE the horse's back" but actually just got weird too.

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  4. My only advice for being successful at sitting the trot.... Is to never post. Seriously. I post the first trot in each direction to allow Mollie's back to warm up and then never rise again unless I'm doing a lengthen or stretchy trot. At this point, having sat for YEARS I don't even like posting anymore. It sucks at first but it's really one of those things that only gets better with practice.

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    1. while i'm glad to hear that you've so successfully made it to the other side such that you prefer sitting to posting.... the idea of never posting now sounds like a misery! lol... but i hear ya. must practice MOAR.

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  5. Seriously, your struggles are my goals. And able to accomplish what you did riding twice a week in the freaking winter? My hat is off to you girl.
    Rebecca (backinthetack.wordpress.com)

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    1. aw thanks! isabel wouldn't have always been able to handle this type of schedule and still be expected to "work" - but i think she's really matured in the last year and settled into the routine. and i honest to god think she enjoys it. twice a week is definitely not ideal tho...

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  6. I love how much more interesting the tests get as you move up the levels, how fun to be practicing Prelim! The sitting trot struggle is real, I used to be great at it, then years of really green horses somehow erased that skill. *crying*

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    1. oh no, say it ain't so!!! you mean it's possible that this is a skill that might have to be learned more than once!?!? ugh... lol.... if that's the case, then maybe Alicia is onto something and we must just always sit always forever and ever for fear of losing the skill?

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  7. HAHAHA yeah I am just pretending that sitting trot is not a thing from now until fall. Then hopefully I can learn it over the winter? We will see. I will say that it gets easier as the horse learns to give you a place to sit, and we do have moments of that.

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    1. ya know, i've heard a lot of people talk about 'the horse giving you a place to sit' and am not sure i totally understand, or if i've ever felt it... perhaps that'll be the light bulb moment? we shall see!

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  8. Sitting trot is hard for sure. I used to sit the trot in my tests with Houston though as I had an easier time keeping him together when I sat the trot instead of posting.

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    1. i can see how that might work, esp given his size you probably needed every point of contact to get through to him haha. isabel is much easier in that regard... plus i actually struggle more to keep her together just bc the sitting trot is currently so distracting to me... maybe one day?

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  9. What really helps me sink deep into my saddle for sitting trot is dropping my stirrups, at least for the first bit. This helps me get a better feel for lengthening down and sitting up, and then I can pick my stirrups back up. I find it's really easy to brace against my stirrups when I'm trying to sit, which pushes me back out of the saddle and makes a good sitting trot hard to achieve. Something to try maybe, that will also build that strength back up!

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    1. yeppers. when we can actually get into the saddle to practice, practice we will :)

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  10. ha ha ha totally feel your pain! I did this test earlier in the winter and was like "woah, there is a LOT of sitting trot in this test." I had just come off of doing the T3D test in a large arena and STILL thought that. It'll get better I promise... or at least it did for me. I actually enjoy sitting the trot now, but maybe I am just a weirdo. Congrats on doing that test- it's challenging!

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    1. That's great - you give me hope that maybe one day I will like it too!! It really is a fun test, even if it's on the difficult side for us, we will give it our best!

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  11. I feelz ya with with riding 2x a week- maybe…!!!! But still really cool that you guys are riding the prelim dressage test! So this means that when you are ready for Prelim you'll have already conquered the dressage ;) Happy sitting!!!

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    1. Hahahahaha *choking for air* hahahahaha! Lol we might be that unusual eventing pair that's held back by the jumping instead of the dressage ;) I haven't even jumped novice height since October, training height only occasionally over the summer, and prelim height once with.... mixed results lol

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  12. Oy, this post fried my brain! Your mental game and perseverance is inspiring.

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    1. Ugh I try, I try.... It's def harder for me to manage mentally than jumping, probably only bc I've been jumping so much longer...

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  13. ugh, sitting trot is hard! this is why Gina and I will never compete above First Level. (lolz who am I kidding, there are like 100 reasons)

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    1. Ha idk about that ;) and maybe that's why I'm starting early. I honestly didn't realize prelim was ridden in sitting trot when I entered the test, but now I'm happy to be working on it since it's actually not currently holding me back from showing at my desired level (first) since we are not really even close to second yet. So it will be one less thing to worry about when we start thinking about those new movements.

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  14. I didn't realize you had to sit all of that test. That's tough. Although, I actually like sitting trot and I will default to it when I get bogged down in something. Like if a movement is difficult, I'll go to sitting trot, often without even realizing it. For me, getting out of intro and into training was a goal specifically because training allows sitting or rising where intro requires rising. I would second other's comments about removing stirrups to get better at sitting trot. I almost exclusively rode my college horse bareback. There's really nothing better for getting your body to want to sit the trot than removing the stirrups.

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    1. i'm jealous that you feel so much more comfortable in sitting trot! there are certain things i'll use it for now, but it's usually very slow collected work when i'm trying to really push the horse into the bridle. it's much harder for isabel's much bigger working trot (esp when you're trying to do *things* in that trot like leg yields haha)

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  15. Ugh sitting trot. Until you can "get it", try just dropping your stirrups. Or lowering them so they aren't really effective until you can develop the seat and then keep trying to pick them back up. Kick ass awesome, though, that you can do the Prelim test! I would be lucky to do the Novice test with how little I have ridden this winter.

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    1. haha i doubt that - you guys are gonna pick right back up where you left off! and honestly i haven't found dropping my stirrups as helpful bc part of my issue is gripping too much with my calves, and that is only exacerbated by dropping the stirrups. we'll see tho.

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  16. That arena looks awesome! I always find it harder to go through tests with trainers than I do in an actual show. I don't ride the tests much, but the lessons where I have, it's very rare I make it through the whole test because it brings out some flaw that has to get fixed. Then it goes much smoother at the show. I have faith, you can totally do that test. (:

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    1. thanks! i feel positive about it. we will probably biff a couple movements but that's ok. at least it'll give us a chance to definitively see what seems to be working and what needs improvement!

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  17. My trainer has me do sitting trot by posting a few strides sitting a few strides and back in forth and increase sitting and decreasing posting. Its less obnoxious on the horse

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    1. that's definitely a good approach - and i additional practice by doing lots of transitions in and out of trot (from walk and canter) sitting the entire time, except only really trotting a couple strides at a time. it's helping, for sure - but won't really make a difference until i can ride more than 2x a week...

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  18. Funnily enough I ride much better when I'm sitting (or at least I think so)- the up down of posting makes me distracted and less steady in the seat!

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    1. ha, teach me the mystery of your waysssss!!! posting is definitely my happy place right now ;)

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  19. So jealous of these lessons! Even the tough bits. It always sounds like you get so much out of them.

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    1. they are seriously worth every single penny!

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