Tuesday, October 25, 2016

i'll take ya to school!

Just over a month into ownership, Charlie and I finally got to ride in our first lesson together. We rode with the farm's program director, trainer M (whom you may remember from lessons with Casanova).

Obvi his expertise lies primarily in h/j land - but solid fundamentals and concepts supersede discipline, imho. Good horsemanship and riding are good horsemanship and riding, period. So I was eager for M's input.

alternative title for this post could be "It's called ART, okayyy?" lol... anyway pics are unrelated. i wedged my phone into a standard to catch video (below) of a few passes over a teensy cross rail one night. but i can't help myself so in addition to the video you also get ridiculously blurry screen shots. sorry not sorry!

Two big takeaways:

1: I am on the right path with Charlie. The work I've been doing on my own is moving him in the right direction and I just need to keep on keepin on. Perhaps with slightly more firmness in asking for shorter response times, or being proactive instead of waiting for things to crop up (think: race horse power mode down the long side - slow that shit down before it even starts, Emma!).

But.

2: Trainer M put us through our paces in a very effective manner, setting us up nicely for success through strategic use of exercises and figures, while actively managing the mistakes I know I'm making but haven't been able to resolve. And as a direct result, I simply rode better and with more confidence, prompting a very nice response from Charlie.

Funny how that works, no?

EAGER TB IS EAGER!! also mostly navigating the trot pole pretty well!

Anyway. Specifics:

  • When the trot is happening in a nice, balanced, soft fashion, add in three loop serpentines through the arena. Look for steady pace, straightness between loops, and balanced changes in bend.
  • Don't constantly circle, and don't constantly go straight. Use both to their advantages for helping balance the horse, as well as letting the horse find his own balance.
  • Be firmer and quicker with the rein aids when asking for slowing down or transitioning down. My goal must be to avoid teaching Charlie to lean on me. 
  • Use half circle turns back to the rail for our canter departs. Charlie responded beautifully to this, esp re: leads. (He has both leads but we occasionally struggle with picking up the correct one).
  • Furthermore with canter: focus on encouraging Charlie to have a mobile head and neck in the canter. Don't lock my elbows or hold my hands too low - encourage him to stretch and be soft and use his head and neck, rather than holding himself stiffly.

almost not losing that left shoulder out of the turn! almost!!

  • Basically just be softer with my arms all around - and probably hold my hands higher than I want. And probably shorter reins too, ahem. 
  • Use more opening inside rein to help show Charlie the bend, while occasionally "bumping" on the outside rein to help with balance.
  • Widely held hands are good hands for green beans.
  • Re: the horse leaning on me, Charlie isn't very sophisticated or subtle yet. He's (very slowly) learning to lower his head and soften his topline, but he's bobbling between high and braced, and low and leaning. The telltale sign of leaning is if his rhythm changes tho. As I encourage him to soften his topline without penalty, look for a consistent tempo. If his tempo changes as he goes low tho.... get him back up off my hands. He's too big to carry!

So a very basic lesson, but one I was very happy to have. Charlie behaved very nicely for the ride and is clearly emotionally prepared to handle the lesson format. He was happy to walk calmly and relaxed while M and I discussed and reviewed etc, and happy to go back to work when asked. Good boy!

officially adorable. at least what you can see of it ;)

Plus. This horse, guys. He really doesn't seem to care about ANYTHING. It was stupidly windy out, but we braved the outdoor all by our lonesome anyway. Complete with random odds and ends occasionally blowing across the ground as we went, and a few jump standards that had been knocked down over night. Charlie noticed but cared not. I can live with this!

silly but oddly endearing video of us power trotting around the arena and occasionally jumping the cross rail. 

Anyways. After finishing up the ride (but not the chat), we talked a bit more about how to use certain exercises to keep setting Charlie up for success. The horse is a thinker and learner, so that can be used to my advantage. Trainer M gave me the following test sheet, which looks remarkably like an h/j version of a (prix caprilli) dressage test lol. Just replace "ordinary" with "working." 

His purpose was to give me exercise ideas (see: half turns to canter departs) as well as a 'proficiency checklist,' and it was a good reminder to think back over all the dressage tests I've done lol. Especially with this horse's weak hind end I've been trying to integrate some early lateral-type stuff at the walk. Mostly just playing around but Charlie seems to catch on quickly.

So I've been thinking back to the lesson ever since - and basically recreated it in its entirety for our next ride (with equal success!). And am just super happy to have that affirmation.

Charlie has made it pretty easy for me so far. It obviously won't always be like this, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can! (And I continue to count down the days until we can make it out for lessons with the rest of my coaches soon - can't come soon enough!!)

41 comments:

  1. Sounds like a productive lesson :) & I am still totally in love with your arena.

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    1. Thanks - it felt like an auspicious start to our education together haha. Simple but good. And yea that arena... Man I just adore it too and am trying to spend as much time out there as possible before winter sets in (and darkness bc no lights, boo)

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  2. Sounds like a great first lesson. Glad things continue to go smoothly.

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    1. Thanks I'm very happy with "smooth" right now. We will start pushing buttons eventually but this feels like a good way to start

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  3. Ahhh so wonderful! I just love your sweet giant baby horse :)

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  4. What a good boy and a productive lesson! 😁

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    1. a very good boy! the lesson was very simple in that we didn't necessarily cover any ground that i don't work on in my own solo rides... but the end result was nicer thanks to the eyes on the ground!

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  5. Gosh, I love him. And what good points you gained to work on. I'm noting these down for Griffin and Stan. I'm so happy you're back to lessoning :-) I can't wait to see Charlie blossom

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    1. lessons really are just the best, aren't they?

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  6. How awesome he is not phased by anything! Great first lesson. :)

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    1. ha seriously! there is a spook in there somewhere but it doesn't seem to appear very often!

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  7. I'm so guilty of needing to shorten my reins. It sounds like an excellent lesson and I always like lessons that remind me I'm on the right track.

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    1. lol idk what it is about always letting my reins get so long... esp bc then when charlie pops up his massive head i basically have nothing lol.... oh well, maybe one day i will learn?

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  8. Yay! A lesson! And sounds like a great one, at that!

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  9. Love seeing updates of you two. He looks super happy to work and forward - which is a good thing! I am also guilty of sometimes letting things go a bit and being too soft at times...and the reins thing - yep! Haha I am about ready to put tape on them!

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    1. idk why it's so difficult to keep reins short. with grippy gloves and rubber reins, you'd think it would be easier... but apparently i just keep on letting them go...

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  10. Yay I am glad that you were able to get a lesson in on your kid, I know you've been jonesing for it! Glad that it was also super successful. Onwards and upwards.

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    1. omg to say i've been jonesin is putting it LIGHTLY haha!! but yes. onward to glory!! (or, erm, something lol)

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  11. I love seeing your guys' progress! He seems like such a cool guy. I'm excited for you!

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    1. thanks! i'm excited too. i've got that itchy eager feeling where i want to go try and do all the things.... but am trying to be patient and wait for some guidance from my trainers.... ugh lol ;)

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  12. I'm enjoying following along :) Congrats on the fabulous lesson!

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    1. thanks! hopefully it's the start of many to come

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  13. That arena is awesome! Love the feel of the area.

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    1. Also, I appreciate your art-photography. I got a degree is music-art, and it's so helpful in the real world! [it's not, but I could write an essay that legitimizes blurry photo art]

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    2. if you write me an essay that legitimizes the standard poor quality photographic "art" that has come to define 'Fraidy Cat Eventing, i will absolutely publish it. (likely complete with even more low-res pics lol)

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  14. Sounds like a great lesson. I'm glad it's all going so well with him.

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  15. He's lovely! You guys are coming on so well

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  16. Charlie sounds really smart and game to keep improving really rapidly right now. I think you found a good one!!

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  17. I don't know where to comment about Charlie's insanely dapper picture at the top. He's very photogenic!

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