Monday, December 12, 2016

moments in time (aka more 'before' pictures)

So the last we saw of our brave bay hero, Charlie, he was out and about winning his first dressage show in .... style lol. And then shortly after, he went to his first actual dressage lesson with trainer C at TM, wherein I declared him a very good boy (but without any photographic evidence).

well. there's always photographic evidence of his extreme handsomeness, at least lol
That lesson acted as a somewhat watershed moment for me tho. Exactly as I had hoped it would.

See. It's kind of a funny thing with me and riding. I enjoy riding. I think about it often and study it. I want to be better at it. And I spend untold hours documenting all that I learn here on the blog for the purposes of remembering and growing from my experiences.

run, charlie, Run!
But like. Sometimes even despite all that, I just really need someone** to sit me down and tell me how to ride. Even if they're telling me things I already know.

(**a paid professional of my choosing - this attitude does NOT extend to internet strangers or well-intentioned would-be bestowers of wisdom and advice, thankyouverymuch lol).

"i'm going, i'm going, christ woman!" - charlie
worth noting: this might not be the most elegant picture, but charlie's moving out now in a way that he absolutely could not and would not in our earliest rides together. he is finally becoming freer in his back and shoulders. one step at a time!
Because. Let's be real. Some lessons I need to re-learn again and again. Most recently, with Charlie, it was the lesson of "You must ride the horse forward from the hind end."

That was basically the entirety of the dressage lesson. Or, as trainer P has said in our lessons at OF, it's all about sending and bending the horse.

bend? lol
So in every ride since then, that's basically all I've been thinking about. Going forward. And inside bend. Just that and only that. Not trying to fuss with the contact. Not trying to be fancy about footwork. Just forward, dammit. And bend.

If he's very low and heavy up front, or very high and braced, or shuffling and tripping... all of these are symptoms of not pushing enough from his hind end, not moving forward enough. And my answer for each is the same: use inside leg to ask him to step more under with that hind. More power forward. And bend.

c'mon emma, use that core girlfriend!!
And whadya know. Charlie's been going pretty well. He's started experimenting on his own with balance. Which I guess is the point, rather than me trying to put him in a place and carry him there.

He's figuring out that speed isn't an evasion any more and that I'm not going to argue with him about it (something I'd subconsciously started after riding around h/j students on lesson ponies lately.... it's kinda embarrassing to constantly lap everyone so I'd just slowed my long-legged horse down to match them instead. Um. Probably not a winning horse training strategy, emma!).

a fleeting, imperfect moment but a moment none the less!!
And as Charlie experiments with changing his balance, he's finding these brief but pleasant moments more and more often. It never lasts - bc he's typically bobbing up and down and all around the contact. And also bc let's be real, I need to fix a couple things in my own riding to help him have an easier time holding that good balance.

It's worth noting that in these pictures, I sought to capture the full spectrum of how we typically go right now. None of the shots could be considered 'correct' or whatever, but that's not the point. Rather, they all demonstrate that Charlie is changing. Developing. Thinking about what I'm asking and trying different answers. And I like it!!

a less fleeting and even more imperfect moment haha. but hey look - apparently i *do* have a core in there! but only use it when death-by-face-planting seems imminent lol
Frankly it's going to take time to develop the strength he needs to carry himself in a more 'correct' frame. But all the same, it feels like we're finally going somewhere. Literally and figuratively haha. Changes are happening now, and more visibly too.

Interestingly enough (and perhaps not surprising), now that I'm making 'forward' our #1 priority, some of Charlie's balky behavior has returned. I guess now that it's not an evasion any more, speed is less fun?

<3 this canter. even if he makes me work for it
My general impression of this erstwhile racehorse is that he just plain old does not like being driven forward. So I'm trying to be sensitive about 'work' becoming a punishment while still getting the desired effects. I don't want him to be sour. But we also haven't really gotten far along enough yet for him to see why we work on all this. It hasn't gotten to be really fun for him yet.

horse remains unconvinced lol
Tho in our earliest rides when he'd sometimes get stuck and not want to move forward, we could get past it with strategic use of ground pole exercises. Charlie likes the ground poles, and they served to change the conversation from 'driving him forward' to 'giving him somewhere to go.'

My current thoughts are that he'll be quite happy to keep moving out when more jumping is involved!

so handsome tho
For now tho, we just keep working on these little details. Interspersed with other types of activities to avoid the horse feeling like all we ever do is trot like the dickens in circles around the indoor. Bc that sounds mind numbingly boring even to me haha.

I'm excited tho. It feels like we've cracked the code in beginning to influence how Charlie carries himself. And every time he momentarily finds that balance of moving forward into a light contact while being soft over his topline? It's an addictive feeling haha, I want MOAR!!

29 comments:

  1. Boy is he ever moving out more. Look at him!

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    1. Ha yea he's definitely going places lol. It's not always super balanced or organized or whatever but at least it gives me something to work with!!!

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  2. Forward is the best. Although since my horse's favorite evasion is to get quick I spend a lot of time trying to slow things down

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    1. Yea I mean it's definitely an individual horse thing. Isabel often needed to slow down to find her balance, whereas Charlie needs to move more forward.

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  3. So exciting to see the pieces start to click into place! You're also going to have a 6-pack once you really start riding this horse with your core!

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  4. holy crap he's going to have a huge step when he realizes his shoulders arent fused to his body. can't wait to watch you have to sit it :P

    I really like horses where the answer is HEY GO FORWARD. I find it way easier to put a lot of leg on and kick into the bridle than clutching their face.

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    1. ha yea it's going to be intense for sure.... we had another dressage lesson yesterday (post tomorrow) and that's basically the whole story all over again - get him moving out and moving those shoulders ('fused to his body' is the perfect way of describing it at present lol). and when he gets that trot? yea. it's BIG. like, edge-of-my-comfort-zone big lol. we're getting there tho!

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  5. His stride has opened up so much! Progress in baby steps 😁

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  6. I love his 'try' and these photos are so very nice! Once he loosens his shoulders and comes from behind he will have the most incredible lengthen!

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    1. he's got a LOT of work to do in his shoulders for sure lol, it's so different from riding isabel, who was just incredibly free in her shoulders!

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  7. Poor Charlie, lol! So much work building new muscles, but what a stride!

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    1. so much work!! and that stride.... i really need to force myself to adjust my perceptions so that it feels normal and natural, rather than "dear god we are running holy shit slow down!"

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  8. That almost-face-plant picture is HILARIOUS! He's looking really good, though- you can totally tell he's got his thinking cap on and is definitely learning!

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    1. lol i was so glad to get that shot on film!! it's hard to verbalize exactly what it's like when he legitimately feels like we might drill directly down through the earth's crust at a high rate of speed. well. that picture? that's what it feels like lol.

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  9. 1) you guys look fantastic and I LOVE you two together

    2) love your trainers and you're definitely on the right track

    3) wah i want to ride

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  10. Death by face-plant lol It's so awesome to see all progress you've both made in such a short time!

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    1. thanks - i'm really pleased with the horse, he's a very quick learner. green tho he may be, it's already totally obvious that the pace of our progress is dictated by my own skill/ability to bring him along. bc he's picking up basically whatever i put down so far!

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  11. I feel like I'm working on a lot of these same concepts with Shooter. Like, no one has to tell me to ride Bobby forward to use himself, but I get on ole dummy Shooter and we have to do a little crashy crashies before I'm like, "Oh, right. Get your ass in gear, you lazy whale."

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    1. lol yuuuuuuuup. nobody likes the crashy crashies tho!!! every time charlie nearly eats dirt he lets out these surprised little grunts, and i'm just like.... well... try moving your ass bro. it'll help, i promise!

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  12. I always hate to pay for lessons in the beginning when it's all the basis, but I agree with you, sometimes you need someone to watch you and remind you about the things you think you know.

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    1. oh see i love the lessons no matter what. especially with my dressage trainer bc it really doesn't matter *what* we're working on, she always finds ways to improve my ride. so we might just be working on basic type stuff, but the difference in the horse is totally worth it

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  13. That magical moment when they're balanced and light is always so fleeting, isn't it?

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    1. Up until it isn't!!! My hope is that the more time he spends there, the easier it becomes to find that balance again and again

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  14. He is definitely starting to look fancy! It also looks like that trot feels just as big as it looks.

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  15. Can we say all leg? Wow. Two boy. Fyi love that bridle noseband!

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