Monday, June 20, 2016

dividing + conquering (slowly)

In this week's episode jump lesson, we worked on two problems mostly separately. Eventually they will need to be addressed simultaneously.. but for now, one thing at a time.

still no media from these early morning lessons... maybe i'll bite the bullet and strap my helmet cam to the fence line just to get something. in the meantime, enjoy my latest attempts and selfies - and virtual cookies to whoever can name that handsome pony i'm manhandling on the left. hint: i got to see him and his equestrian blogger mother at their recent outing at Plantation.
  • First up: horse doesn't get in front of my leg or respect leg - she's either got a nice tempo but with no impulsion, or too speedy.
  • She needs to learn to take the leg to go forward. But forward does not equal fast - you can go forward into a collected gait or a downward transition or whatever - forward means activating the hind end. 
  • But we currently can't activate the hind end without changing tempo.
  • So, in other words, I still don't have a half halt.
  • I need to be more preemptive about putting my leg on before she goes against my hand. Which means basically any time I know I'm going to do anything, be prepared with more leg.
  • For the record, Isabel was really very fussy and did not want to play. "Giant Bitch" was the description I used. #scientificterms
and here's another pic of the ever-photogenic Chatty Cat, bc why not. don't you try to tell me that seeing those whiskers doesn't improve your day at least a little bit!
  • Through the warm up trot I aimed to ride her deeper and rounder bc she was very tight through her topline. 
  • Then we worked on flexing slightly out, then flexing slightly in, then going straight, rinse repeat. Not unlike our lesson with Stephen Birchall last spring. Dan was very clear that the flexion should be slight and only just from the poll - not to the point of getting actual bend in or out. 
  • And then we would think "passage trot" down the long side to develop more collection (this was a shit show every time ugh) before heading up a long-ish line of trot poles on the other long side. 
  • Dan wanted Isabel staying round and collected through the poles - not hollowing and flattening out.
  • When she did this right (which she did, a few times) it was LOVELY.
  • Otherwise... she got beat haha. (kidding.. sorta)
  • All of this work was in an effort to develop thrust and impulsion and get the horse in front of my leg. 

also we're still hitting the trails like it's our job... esp on lesson days when i come back out after work and ride the horse again haha bc she needs fitness work and motion is lotion and all that, right? twice in one day will certainly not kill this horse who barely works 4x a week right now!
  • The second big focus was getting Isabel straighter. Particularly while tracking left. 
  • Dan noted that Isabel has developed a nasty habit of swinging her haunches away from the whip instead of just going forward or activating her hind end (which is why she's getting tapped in the first place). 
  • He wants me carrying the whip in my outside hand until further notice. 
  • (And yes, I basically school Isabel exclusively with a dressage whip. On the flat and over fences. For reasons.)
  • We worked on the same exercise as last week of building from collected walk up to collected canter without stirrups, using the size of the circle to help control speed instead of my hands.
  • I needed to think "haunches in" through this whole process - starting at walk all the way to canter.
no media from dan lessons, but hang onto your hats bc there are shit TONS of photos from our latest dressage clinic adventures. including gratuitous face shots of isabel looking totally zonked bc obviously haha
  • It's hard bc it feels super unbalanced and out of control and Isabel's head is flinging around every which way and all I want to do is pull the inside rein and create bend that way... 
  • Even tho I *know* that what she's doing with her head and neck are just symptoms of what's happening behind me. 
  • So we just tried to ignore the head and ride the haunches, with my inside leg stretched DOWN at the girth and my outside leg reaching as far back as I possibly could (Dan: "Right now your leg is about 2/3rds of the way back to her flank, I want you reaching her tail"), with torso still stretching UP and not twisting.
  • The point of doing this without stirrups is to keep me honest about staying centered over the horse, instead of getting twisted around or letting the horse throw me wherever she wants me. 
  • All the while, my seat still needed to stay active, needed to push the horse's back up. Dan repeated this again and again - my seat shouldn't just follow, it had to show the horse where to go. 
  • That's still really hard for me - separating all my individual body parts into independent aids that can be applied or be silent in tandem is something I'm still working on. And my seat is absolutely very far from being independent. But I'm starting to feel an inkling of what that might be like eventually. And I guess this lesson is just a stepping stone down that path?
  • And, as a somewhat brief aside - it was interesting to feel where I sat as we circled left with my outside leg stretched alllll the way back trying to push her haunches in. I was actually sitting left, on the inside. Perhaps you'll recall - basically the ENTIRE lesson I took with Grant Schneidman last March was devoted to getting me sitting more on the left side. Methinks this is alllllll related haha. 
and ok fine, here's a teaser pic from the actual ride too - just as a little reward (?) if you've made it this far haha
  • Anyway, the jumping efforts were just a continuation of the flat work. 
  • Drop the stirrups at walk, establishing haunches in and collection up into canter, pick stirrups back up, and approach any of the three random singles spread about the arena, then drop stirrups and go back to circling after the fence to reestablish the haunches in at collected canter. Rinse repeat. 
  • Going off the right lead was surprisingly easier - it was easier to get the right positioning, the jumps came up better, etc. Surprising bc that's the lead we had about 95% of our refusals off of... Go figure. 
  • Left lead was tricksier so we spent more time there, ultimately finishing by going through a bounce grid a couple times. 

So it was a pretty intense and physical lesson. Have no fear tho - there were lots of walk breaks for both of our sake. The no stirrups work was hard for me, and the haunches in and collection stuff was legit hard for the mare (who had ZERO problem letting us know). But Dan was pretty clear that he wasn't just having us do it for the sake of doing it. It's not just torture.

Rather he sees these issues as our biggest weaknesses. The mare resists getting in front of the leg, and resists traveling straight, thus the root of all our stadium woes. So if we can just fix it, everything should be gravy, right?

41 comments:

  1. "Drop your stirrups. It pleases me" one of the best meme out there and this mad me think of it. Ha! Poor izzy, you will just have to accept that this is the fate of red horses from now on, it isn't getting easier. LIL
    It is great that you have Dan to push you so hard and sees your weaknesses. It is hard now bit you are going to be seriously kicking butt come next year's show season at the rate you are going

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    1. He's definitely good for giving a good push haha

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  2. There is so much going on. I struggle with separating all my body parts out and keeping things independent. I can't wait to hear about the dressage adventures.

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    1. Omg keeping the parts independent from each other is so hard tho!

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  3. All lessons are building blocks, I've no doubt you guys will be better for the increased saddle time. Plus strolling on trail rides can be a great change of scenery to trick *ahem* continue practicing some of the nuggets of info/gems started in the lessons ☺

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    1. Haha idk about "increased" saddle time - this was just out standard weekly lesson

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  4. Glad I'm not alone in the rides with a dressage whip all the time club. I just prefer one with Stampede, especially being able to tap him behind without losing contact on a circle is really helpful when he's getting lazy about pushing from behind.
    I love how technical your lessons are, wish I could get instruction like that!

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    1. the technical lessons are great in some respects tho they're often mentally exhausting haha. by the end of last year i felt like such a solid and strong rider tho, here's to hoping we can build back up to that soon!

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  5. That blaze face looks AWFULLY familiar! Riding is so hard. SO. HARD. Will we ever be good at it!? I usually take a dressage whip to jump lessons too, because lazy punk ponies. I admire your gumption to keep working, girlfriend!

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    1. that blaze face is basically the absolute cutest handsomest ever :D

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  6. Holy crap - that last pic looks amazing. Whatever you're doing, you're doing it right. I have to confess, there was so much going on it makes my brain hurt! Good for you for working through all that!

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    1. lolz yea it's definitely a lot of nitty gritty details... brace yourself for even more coming from our latest dressage clinic - at least there are lots of photos to look at tho haha, like that last canter pic!

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  7. You and Izzy are really being put through riding boot camp hell! I hope it all helps with the bigger picture. That last pic is incredible! Izzy always seems transformed in you dressage pics.

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    1. she really tries hard in the flat work - it's kinda incredible what she can do when all the pieces come together!

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  8. leg = forward but not fast is the bane of my existence! You two look great on those photos though! Cant wait to hear about the clinic

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    1. hopefully i'll have the details pulled together soon!

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  9. Having a plan seems like a really good start. Yay Plan!

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    1. lol i'm always full of plans. too many plans, probably.

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  10. More leg is always the answer for any problem, horse related or not. Horse not bending? More leg. Horse not taking the contact? More leg. Work not giving you a raise? More leg.

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    1. more leg. always leg. forever and ever amen.

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  11. DINO!!!! What a cutie! Your lesson sounds intense and I'm excited to hear all about the clinic.

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  12. Separating all of those aids is so hard, and it's kind of a complex and abstract thing to think about and work on (ask me how I know?). It sounds like Dan is doing a great job at helping you to break down all of those different pieces.

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    1. yep he's definitely good at keeping me focused!

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  13. "Wait, is this Chatty Cat? Or Fat Cat?"
    **touches cat**
    "Meow...!"
    "Chatty Cat."

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  14. Straight and forward seems like it's pretty much always the answer. That and more leg. I don't know why I find it so hard to do.

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  15. Awww, that looks like a Dino nose :) We're working on the same things in lessons right now. You are so much better at breaking it down and articulating it I'm going to cheat and use your notes as my homework for next lesson :)

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    1. ha yay, glad the notes are useful! maybe one day i'll learn to put my own notes into good use?

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  16. Riding the ugly! You gotta do it sometimes ALSO MROE NO STIRRUPZZZ

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  17. I will admit I skimmed the last half of the post bc I am literally brain dead from an exam....but that dressage pic doh *jesus hands emoji*

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    1. ha that's totally fair. pretty sure i wrote it all down and gave it the most cursory of copy editting before adding pics and hitting publish too... it's dense stuff! i'll be grateful for having it written tho...

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  18. That sounds kinda of insane! Glad you did it and I didn't have to, sounds next day painful lol.
    Great recap.

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  19. Very, very interesting. Megan also had me push Murray's haunches a touch to the inside in order to encourage him to travel straighter instead of the wibblywobbly way he wants to travel. I know straightness is key to being strong and having good impulsion, you waste energy by not traveling straight and by sticking your arms and legs out in the wrong places. Looking forward to more recaps! AND this also helped me understand why leglegeallthelegg is Dan's thing. ;)

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  20. It took me so long with this sort of thing on Rico. I struggled with it in the background for a long time and then in spring/summer of 2014 it got really bad and I actually considered retiring him. Switching trainers to one who had more, uh, intense techniques really helped and finally he stayed in front of the leg. Sounds like Dan has a good plan and even though you're in the thick of it now, it will get better!

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  21. I think it is super interesting how things from other trainers lessons at other times (like sitting left) are slowly all playing into one big picture for y'all. That's really cool and a great sign you've got a good eye for picking great trainers to help you!

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  22. I spy Dino!!!

    Also happy to see that pretty arab mug <3

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  23. Gravy is a good metaphor because gravy is an amazing delicacy

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  24. I feel like I could have written this exact same post over the winter. Forward is HARD YO.

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