Wednesday, January 25, 2017

various expressions + a little dressage

So it finally happened for Charlie: his first 7-day-period to include 3 trailer trips. I honestly avoid shipping out that frequently (twice a week is the preferred max, once a week is the most common) but one day was just for a trail ride last Monday that followed a 2 week period of no travel.

And the lesson written about yesterday got Charlie outside during daylight hours in a big arena with solid all-weather footing. Definitely preferable to scrambling around lesson kiddos in our narrow indoor at home. So I'm thinking these experiences have been adding to Charlie's enjoyment of riding life, rather than detracting. There's been no evidence of sourness in any case, he's been fantastic everywhere he goes!

"does this angle make my nose look big??" - charlie
Anyway, after establishing that the horse's foot soreness had in fact cleared up at our OF lesson the day prior, I opted to keep my lesson appointment with dressage trainer C at TM for Sunday. Getting to see both of my trainers in one weekend felt so luxurious lol - it's been a LONG time since that happened!

All we needed was a lesson with Dan to complete the trifecta haha, but he's down in Aiken for the winter (and I still haven't figured out how we're gonna make that happen anyway bc the new farm doesn't allow outside trainers and Dan's farm is WAY too far away to haul for regular lessons. Not sure yet how to resolve that pickle...).

more "charlie thru the trailer doors" pics!!! one of these days i'll have to collect these pics from all our usual haunts and make you guess which picture/background corresponds to which farm haha
After updating trainer C on how Charlie has been going since she last saw him, we got to work pretty quickly. We're sorta to the place now where we've got a bit of a system - a bit of a regular way of going. Which makes it kinda easier to write about since it isn't like this massive wall of bullet points that I have to record in a post lest I risk forgetting them lol.

Aside from continuing on with all the other odds and ends I've written about previously, we worked on two main exercises in this ride. The first was actually really reminiscent of work I did with Stephen Birchall on Isabel. And actually kinda similar to work I did with Dan too... kinda haha.

he loves looking out those windows. izzy always did too. i think she always wanted to gallop up the hill. maybe charlie does too?
Basically C agreed with trainer P's assessment from the day prior that - we've got the forward but now I'm kinda running him past his balance a bit. Charlie's figured out how to go long in his body (as opposed to having a very short, braced neck, tho honestly that still happens too haha). Now we need to work on helping him learn to adjust and compress himself.

The idea was, while trotting around with the occasional 20m circle, work on bringing the trot down to almost walk. Use my voice, use quicker prompter half halts, try to aim for everything happening a little faster, a little shorter. Almost thinking staccato about everything from Charlie's steps to my leg and rein aids. Then ride forward. And rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

This is basically heavy lifting for Charlie, it's pretty hard work. And, much like Isabel before him, he figured out the 'ride forward' part much  more quickly than the 'compress and shorten' part haha, and maybe got a little rushy. That's ok, tho. I just gotta keep my own focus and help him out as much as possible, while avoiding letting any of my aids get long and heavy (esp rein aids).

tired pony has tired legs!!!
The other exercise was intended to help with Charlie's canter transitions, which have remained a sticking point (except when they're not haha - it's very day-to-day with Charlie sometimes). The idea was to ride a 20m circle at the short end of the arena - then while crossing the centerline, change directions for a 15m circle. Then after completing the 15m circle, change directions again to return to the original 20m circle and immediately ask for the canter depart.

The circle figures look a little bit like a snowman - a smaller circle stacked on top of a larger circle. And the idea with putting the canter depart right on top of the second change of bend is that the circle exercises encourage Charlie to lift his shoulders. Which, incidentally, his shoulders seem to be what blocks his canter departs. They're so damn heavy and earthbound, he can't get them up and out of the way very easily.

It took me a little while to get the timing right - I was delaying my canter aid a bit too long as I wanted to finish asking for a change of bend first.... but that wasn't quite right, I needed to be quicker about changing back to the original circle and right away, BAM, canter. When I got it right tho, Charlie stepped up beautifully into both leads. Good pony! We'll need a little practice but trainer C thinks we should repeat this exercise often.

charlie is nothing if he is not handsome #callmebiasedifyouwant
It's funny bc it probably looked like a VERY wild and woolly lesson. Both of these exercises got Charlie working hard, but also maybe feeling a little rushy. And our steering suffered for it lol.... But basically any time we focus on any one thing with Charlie right now, something else must be sacrificed. That's just green horses I guess.

He was great tho. Minimal snark about the canter depart - especially when I got my timing right. And I'm kinda excited by the prospect of moving on to the next step in our trot work. We've got the "forward" so now we get to play with it and make it do tricks. Compressing his frame is going to be really hard for Charlie, but hopefully really good for him too.

31 comments:

  1. oooo compression! time to get fancy, charles.

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    1. That's the hope!! (Might just take a while lol)

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  2. I like that canter depart exercise!

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    1. It rode kinda crazy for us bc our steering fell apart lol (homeboy gets a little perplexed when his shoulders start moving around more than he's accustomed to!) but it was still super effective

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  3. I think I might have to try that canter depart exercise.

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    1. Definitely do!! Lmk how it goes!!

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  4. I can't remember where Dan is located now, but I think Hunting Ground Farm will let you rent their ring for lessons. They might kinda sorta allow you and Dan to meet in the middle. Although paying regularly for ring rental and a Dan lesson could get $$$$ fast.

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    1. Dan is up in PA up rte1. I think that type solution may end up being what we do, tho it means I probably won't be able to ride with him as often as I would like. Tho there is supposedly a neighbor with a small arena who may be amenable to us hacking over. We will see. Still a little while to think it out!!

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  5. I like that canter depart exercise, I'll have to try it with Cinna! (Assuming of course that I can EVER ride again, haha)

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    1. Ha yea kinda need one before the other lol. But assuming you can eventually ride again, this'll help if Cinna forgot how to canter in the meantime lol

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  6. LOVE that last photo! Being able to make the forward do tricks is the funnest.

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    1. The most funnest EVAR!!! Charlie isn't convinced yet but he will learn lol

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  7. I love the last photo too! I can't wait to have a little trailer to haul my horses to lessons in new places :)

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    1. the trailer totally changed my relationship with training - and for the better. it allows for so much independence! i get to make whatever decisions feel right for me, and all the professionals we work with understand and respect that - there's no being territorial, and there's hidden agendas. the trainers know that if they help us along in our training, we'll keep coming back. so i've gotten to develop really strong working relationships with these trainers and am so grateful for that!

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  8. Yay Charlie! It sounds like a good lesson all around.

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  9. Our canter transitions are a bit of a fuss at this point but working on it. I'm glad he's slowly getting a hang of it

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    1. slowly but surely. it's definitely a work in progress haha, but we take it as it comes ;)

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  10. I cant wait for you to start up lessons with dan. when does everyone get back from aikens???? SOON!?!?!?

    I'm so glad you bought him. you guys are so cute and he looks fine as hell in that PS of sweden bridle.

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    1. omg is it terrible to say that i'm a little scared of getting back into lessons with dan? i've never ridden a green horse with him, and he has such high expectations for both rider and horse, and seems to teach the 'pro ride' (everything correct!) vs the ammy ride (where some things are allowed to slide haha). i'm a little intimidated to show him my new pony!

      i think he gets back in around march or april tho, so we've got a little bit of time to smooth things out some more before then!

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  11. I really like the canter depart exercise! Charlie's growing up! Love the pictures too.

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    1. thanks! he was in a particularly handsome statuesque mood that day lol. and yea he's really figuring out this whole riding thing. slowly but surely!

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  12. I was wondering why you don't board at one of thw facilities where your trainers are. Maybe I missed something.

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    1. the horse lives at a farm geographically convenient to where i live, since i spend a lot more time with him outside of lessons than in lessons. all my trainers are much farther away.

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  13. All great stuff, glad that he's taking it all in stride.

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  14. Girl, our canter departs leave much to be desired lmao. Yay Charlie for being such a good traveller :)

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  15. That's a great exercise. I never had trouble with Paloma and canter departs, Solo, I mean he I young but this sounds like it could adapt to young ones too! Thank you for sharing!

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  16. A good and balanced canter depart is really hard. Good for you two!

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  17. I miss cantering. If the mud ever goes away... *sigh* Sounds like you guys had a great lesson, though, so yay! Two leads is great -- you won't have to fight a lot of unevenness -- and I'm looking forward to Fancy Trot Tricks!

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  18. That bridle looks amazing on him! Sounds like a terrific lesson!

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