Thursday, February 25, 2016

want the fancy, feel the fancy, be the fancy

Our latest dressage lesson showed even more improvement in Isabel from her very bad day last week... but while mentally she was 100% game for tackling some dressage, physically she was still a bit stiff behind.

Not entirely sure what's going on there but she again warmed up out of it so... idk. She's had a few days off since then (it's just been raining raining raining here) so we'll see how she feels upon our next assessment.

Anyway, on to the lesson. I'm going to try to keep it a little shorter this go round, since as we've moved into a weekly schedule with trainer C, the low hanging fruit has been picked off already and now we're working on those persnickety issues that crop up every ride - and thus become a little repetitive.

not a bad halt! (if you disregard that she's actually mid-dive haha)
We started the trot work with ye olde spiral in and out exercise. Much celebrated by riders far and wide, but actually my first time giving it a proper try. Go figure. Plus other typical warm up stuff: trotting circles, changing directions, leg yielding from the quarter line. Etc etc.

Then onto practicing halts.

  • Trot off the rail then halt after crossing the center line, then trot off again (trainer C doesn't like practicing halts on the actual center line bc then the horse anticipates). 
  • Except our halts were a tad rough - mare wanted to dance and back up and swing her haunches around and shake her head. 
  • So on the next few attempts I was to very clearly halt through walk, then walk out of halt before trotting - theoretically this will help take the edge off. 
  • Also must wait out the halt if she's fussing. Must count three distinct seconds of immobility of feet (ignore the head stuff and it'll supposedly go away)


trot left! (and an accurate representation of my current positional woes)
Next was trotting for realsies. We did pretty much all of the trot work from first level except stretchy trot, including:

  • 10m half circle to X, return to rail at corner. When I do my job these are cake. 
  • Lengthenings across the diagonal <3
  • Leg yields from center line. Going left to right? A shit show. Right to left? Actually not too terrible - but a little slow and I need to make it allll the way to the rail before we turn the corner.
  • Meaning the zig zag thingy yielding off the wall in our harder direction to X, then back right to left to the wall is not designed super favorably for us. Le sigh. Must activate and ride with my right side!!!!
  • 10m circle on long side, change of direction across E to B, another 10m circle. We've practiced this a couple times now (it shows up in one of those eventing tests) and is another place where we should be ok if I do my job. Oh and also, ffs Emma don't make the circles too small!


trot right!! (mid 10m circle) (and also showing hints of positional improvements... maybe)
Another point of focus was zeroing in on that other common string of movements: free walk, medium walk, working trot, working canter, boom boom boom - typically all happening around one short end of the arena.

  • I MUST ride this with commitment. Be decisive. Let Isabel know we are WALKING now and will very soon be TROTTING. Etc etc.
  • And in that same vein - bend my elbows and raise my hands. Imagine 'feeling fancy' about it. This was a consistent theme actually, especially with relation to encouraging a higher 'presentation' frame in the horse.
  • Sit the trot in this sequence of movements - again with commitment. This is tough for me bc it can take a few steps for me to feel settled in the sitting rhythm, but I don't have a few steps to figure it out, I must keep actively riding. Make sure the mare knows what I'm planning etc.


dis our right lead canter depart. perhaps it wouldn't be hollow if i, ya know, didn't throw my upper body at the mare?!? #foodforthought
The real meat of the lesson was in canter, however. We cantered a LOT.

  • Lengthening down the long side is FUN. Sure, totes. Have at it Izzy! But turning in immediately for that 15m circle should not feel like I'm on a dirt bike. Ooh, and we also shouldn't break haha. Needs more rider, I think. 
  • Counter canter loops are doing well, I think. Must mind geometry tho - get allll the way to X please, and take care to not be nearly finished a pretty good loop just to break before the corner - a common trap for us.
  • Actually we did an awful lot of counter canter, including some pieces that I believe are from second level. This is included in the (short!) video below, and was surprisingly easy for mareface. 
  • Biggest issue in the canter right now is our tendency to get a little too low and curled. The general balance is improving in leaps and bounds tho, so I think this should be fairly fixable - esp with improved rider position. 



General homework:

  • Practice canter-walk and walk-canter transitions. We were directed to do a few canter-walk trans in this lesson, but the discipline isn't there yet. Sounds familiar, no?
  • Seriously tho - I need to bend my elbows and lift my hands. Methinks this could possibly be the solution to quite a few of my current woes.
  • I'm perhaps starting to get a feel for the whole "bend your elbows instead of rocking your torso" thing too, and can see how this will also help our sitting trot.
  • Isabel can (and should) warm up a little lower or deeper but once we start getting into the "work" I need to think about riding her more up. 

leg yield!
  • Dear Emma: Please stahp throwing your upper body forward into the canter transition. That is all. 
  • Oh, and also please keep pushing down into your legs - think about feeling your big toe in the stirrup!
  • And PS: maybe next time consider tucking that shirt in. Just a thought!

pets for good ponies
Now we just sit and hope that all of this rain is clearing out the last of the snow so that we can start practicing at home again soon!!

51 comments:

  1. You know, I think everybody is a little stiff and funky right now. First they trudged through the snow, then the ground was torn up and frozen, and now the mud. Once the ground is better, I bet Isabel feels better, too.

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    1. that's my hope too... we'll see i guess!

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  2. You guys look so good! I think we all have habits that struggle to disappear. I still struggle to keep my hands closed around the reins and do this weird driving thing with my seat in the canter that actually flattens the horse out.

    I'm in love with that ring. It's amazing.

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    1. this ring.... i seriously have dreams of moving to this farm (naturally the dream also involves winning the lottery lol) just to use this ring all the time! but yea these long-held habits die hard... i do the driving / digging thing with my seat at canter too, but it's actually getting better. oddly enough - practicing sitting the trot has been a big help there!

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  3. Firstly, your title cracks me up! Secondly, y'all are really coming together! Thirdly, I still want to steal your trainer. Does she come in pocket size?

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    1. you can't steal her, noooooooes!!!!!! we neeeeed her hahaha. but you CAN come up here and ride with her if you are so inclined. just move here for like, a mini camp or something ;)

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  4. Sounds like a great lesson and improvements are being made in leaps and bounds.
    Keep up the fab work ☺

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    1. PS your title had me giggling picturing Michael Cain & Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality: Wear the crown - Be the crown - you are the crown
      Lawlz

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    2. YES - that's it!!! you have a much better memory than i do - i knew i got the title somewhere but seriously could not remember where hahaha. yes. Miss Congeniality. #fitting lol

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    3. Not a good memory, quick Google in another tab for Crown quote ;-)

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  5. Love!! I get so many good tidbits out of your dressage lesson recaps, and you ARE getting FANCY! (Though would be fancier if shirt was tucked :-P)

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    1. yay glad the write ups are useful for more than just me!! and yea that shirt, ugh. at least now i know!

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  6. ugh positional woes...I can empathize. But you both are looking good despite not a very consistent winter and with whatever angst Izzy was feeling a few days before.

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    1. thanks! i'm hoping izzy is feeling fully better soon too!

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  7. Me too about the leaning into the canter transition. Why must we do that?!?!

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    1. idk, honestly i really believe it's a hunter thing. or maybe just a jumping thing. watch my video from yesterday and you'll see in both my transitions to canter, throwing my body forward is a big part of the aid (right or wrong, it just is). isabel *gets* it, and happily canters away, but cannot do so without going hollow/inverted. thus the problem must be corrected.... le sigh

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  8. You guys look so good! I hope she feels completely herself soon!

    I feel you on the positional problems- I have the hunter slouch 24/7.

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    1. omg the hunter slough struggle is sooooo real. my coach keeps trying to tell me to "feel fancy" so that maybe i get a little more upright. it works... when i think of it haha

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  9. You guys looks really nice. I love her canter! FWIW, I happen to think that heaving my upper body for canter transitions is a great idea too -- hahaha! I get in trouble all the time. One thing that seems to help me with my elbows and hands is to think of over-exaggerating whatever it is I need to be doing (ie, lift my hands 6 inches which sound like a lot but actually puts them where they need to be!)

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    1. yes! that over exaggerating the elbows/hand height thing is *exactly* what i need to be thinking about, esp since i am sooooo rigid that probably my idea of an exaggeration is still not quite enough haha. we workin on it!

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  10. Something that helped me with canter transition was being told "don't canter before your horse does, wait for it". Obviously we all *know* that, but having the words and actively thinking these words in my head as I asked for canter really made a difference. You two ARE the fancy! Great work. :)

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    1. thanks! i'm not sure what will make the difference for me yet in our canter transition. except - when ridden from sitting trot i don't tip forward bc i'm already so focused on riding from a more correct pelvic position (i think). i just need to execute the same process from rising trot too... maybe? haha idk

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  11. I rate your fancy A++, top quality fancy, would view photos of fancy again. Top marks in the details, from the elegant yellow maybe button down shirt and complimentary saddle pad, to the lovely toe pointing from Isabel.
    Also, you are looking amazing, nice work!

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    1. upon discovery of further evidence, I'm changing my maybe to definitely a button down. And you look clean, so that definitely adds to your fancy

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    2. hahaha your remarkable gift for writing reviews that capture the very essence of the topic at hand amazes me. 5* review, Courtney!! :D

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  12. You guys are definitely bringing the fancy lately!! Fingers crossed Miss Fancy Pants is feeling her usual 150% soon. :)

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  13. You guys look so good! Can't wait for show season :)

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    1. thank you! i'm pretty excited too - we have A LOT of dressage stuff on the calendar through early april, i hope it all goes to plan!

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  14. Dressage is too hard. Lol. Way to keep making big improvements!

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    1. ha it IS hard - we're enjoying the progress tho bc my mare seems like she feels an affinity for it, definitely helpful!

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  15. I think "be the fancy" is my new mantra!

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    1. ha that's definitely gonna be going through my head next time i go down center line!!!

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  16. There's fancy oozing all over the place. Dang!

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    1. definitely not the worst thing to be oozing around lol (ew) ;)

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  17. Looking good! I think the thing I struggle with all the time is the hands up thing. It really does make a difference once I bend my elbows, though.

    Could she be stiff from...girl pain? Violet actually had the vet called once (only once, knock wood) and all we could figure was she was having cramps. A little Bute and she got over it. I know it makes her back sore a couple of days when she's getting ready to go into heat, though. Girls...

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    1. yea that's kinda my impression, esp given some of her behavioral changes. i think this is just a hard time of year for the mares... hopefully it's that simple and nothing more!

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  18. We started some canter walk transitions and that taught Georgie that ALL we do are canter walks. So now we do some canter trot transitions thrown in. It all helps me be so much more aware of what my body is doing to try to help her...

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    1. good point about making sure it's not always walk canter walk and that we don't forget about occasionally trotting in there too - i can see how esp with the downwards transitions my mare could get the idea that she always knows what i'm gonna ask haha

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  19. You and Isabel are looking FANCY!

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  20. That counter canter is legit. Dayum, Izzy! My mare crush on you grows on the daily.

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    1. it's all for the nefarious purposes of tempting you down to some of our area shows to meet her in person lol

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  21. Ok, how do I teach my pony to canter like a machine like that?! You guys are absolutely rocking the fancy - I am really excited for you!

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    1. thanks!!! canter is not historically our strongest gait haha, but we're working on it!

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  22. Your counter canter was on point. Holy crap. That was quite impressive.

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    1. thanks! isabel apparently makes that feel pretty easy!

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  23. I'm definitely all over that throwing the upper body in transition nonsense. PS your ad at the bottom is dogs and I legit watched the whole thing. Oops

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