Monday, May 20, 2019

O 12' stride, where art thou??

So I did the math over the weekend and realized I've only ridden in thirteen lessons so far in 2019. Considering my goal was to maintain roughly weekly lessons with Trainer P, plus supplement each month with an extra learning session (either with dressage trainer C, Dan, Sally, or other opportunities etc) it's about ~65% of where I wanted/expected to be by this point.

pics totally unrelated, and are from a recent evening hack through the fields. lol @ our fancy tack haha
Tracking my lessons these days is easier than ever, since I've started keeping closer tabs on my budget. It's especially useful bc I've been feeling a little behind the 8-ball recently. A bit like we're kinda treading water, ya know what I mean?

But looking at those numbers kinda makes sense of it all lol. Of those 13 lessons, 9 were in January and February. Since then, it's been a bit of a dead zone haha. No wonder I feel this way!

council of the big bays!
Obviously the deficit is almost entirely due to Charlie's last hoof/nail puncture episode in February through March. In more recent memory tho, my Kentucky and work-related Minnesota trips, plus Trainer P's lead role in the MCTA HT at Shawan Downs meant that lessons have been non-existent in May too.

the grass is so high right now!!
So when Trainer P announced she'd have to cancel our lesson this past weekend too (I guess she has a personal life or something, huh?? haha....) I got back on the schedule with upper level event rider K.

You might remember I started taking weekday morning lessons with her two winters ago after Charlie recovered from his surgery. It was a useful schedule for me bc at that time I still felt like I needed more frequent jumping to feel more confident with Charlie. Plus I wanted to make up for all that lost time after his rehab. Once springtime hit, tho, and things felt so so so good, we kinda fell off that particular bandwagon.

means charlie's finally perfecting his "grab 'n go" technique lol
Right at this moment tho, I really am craving some lessons. Especially some individualized attention. I feel like Charlie and I have kinda been in cruise control for months now.

Like he's doing really well, and we're pretty reasonably reliable and competent at our current level of riding. But I don't really know how to take the next steps, how to get better. Charlie, for his part, has been fantastic. But he's also basically a complete reflection of me at this point, for better or worse.

so much grass, haha, this was basically paradise for chuck
So we got on the books for a private jump lesson with KB, wherein I told her that Charlie didn't necessarily need his ass kicked, but I most certainly needed mine handed to me haha. And it worked out perfectly ;)

that roll top peeking out over yonder is a legit N sized jump. all the BN and Intro jumps were completely hidden haha
The farm had hosted a (very) low key schooling show the night before, and the course was still set up. Which had the advantage of meaning all the lines were set on a full 12' stride. Typically with Trainer P, we school shorter distances (like an 18' one stride instead of a 24'; or a 30' two stride instead of 36').

I understand and agree with the motivation for this: Charlie's defining feature is his extreme length. He can cover ground. I don't need to help him as much there lol. Rather, his bigger challenge is in getting him to rock back, and hold himself in a better balance off his forehand. So teaching him to compress and shorten has really helped with this.

only the 3 stride line was a little short, which created some challenge after having to really commit to the 6 stride diagonal. the left bend from the 2 stride in and out to the skinny oxer was very challenging to us on the full 12' stride
But we do occasionally need to practice carrying that balance on a bigger stride, right? Plus, as y'all know, ever since our Phillip Dutton clinic and lesson with Sally Cousins, a big focus has been riding the horse forward but in that right balance. So this course was perfect haha.

so pretty tho <3
Especially considering we warmed up just catching some singles and Charlie was virtually foot-perfect. Tho our deeply ingrained lateral imbalance showed up in hints during our warm up, tho. We circled around over a simple vertical in the center of the ring, changing directions with each repetition.

Every time off the right lead, we found an open (almost gappy) distance. Off the left lead? Almost always had one-too-many strides in approach. This..... is kinda a pervasive issue in our training haha, and one that shows up in increasingly worse ways as the jumps get bigger or the turns get harder.

hey there, little foxy fox! he didn't care about us in the slightest, i guess he's used to seeing horses all around the field
Bc once we graduated from our warm up and cycling through some singles, shit got real haha. We moved on to schooling that line from the 2 stride in and out (set at full 36') then bending left to a skinny-ish oxer. And.... This exercise was extremely effective in demonstrating some weaknesses in my ride haha.

We had to turn right to the line, meaning corralling Charlie's 8,000lb. left shoulder, always a massive task. Then still ride forward and commit to the 12' stride, while staying straight through the in and out, but then turning left (the horror!) to get to the oxer in 5-6.

We screwed this line up basically every way imaginable. Getting it all together, but on an add stride everywhere. Getting the in and out in 2, but then not being able to pull our shit together for the oxer.... Basically, you name it, we biffed it.

suckin down some pond scum at the fish tank
Part of the issue is honestly the fact that I've been doing a lot of jumping lately outside of lessons (mostly by necessity, again bc of the difficulty getting anything scheduled). And I *know* I'm not riding Charlie forward enough. But knowing a thing isn't the same as fixing it. Which, again, is why I am so hungry for this attention right now haha.

But what it means is that Charlie's kinda gotten into the habit of being a bit of a lug. Getting to be a bit of a lurch at the base of the fence. I'm working way too hard, and once we get to the fence and I want to get out of his way, he kinda just... stalls a bit.

So a big part of this lesson was focusing on shifting some of that responsibility back to him. Lighting his ass on fire lol. Getting him to remember being a bit more forward thinking -- not just looking at this first jump of the in and out, but farther forward toward the out jump, and then the oxer after.

see the fishy?!
We really established this more firmly once moving on to that 6 stride line too. Dan always used to say that he loves 6 stride lines in particular, bc they're possibly the most true test of whether you've got a properly balanced and maintained 12' stride. I guess KB agrees haha, bc she really wanted to see me get this line right.

We added a few times, tho I also chased him down it a few times too. Which would then show up when we made the turn to the sliiiiightly short (by 1') 3 stride line. More than once, even when we got that 6 strides down the diagonal, we'd clobber the out jump of the 3 stride.

KB really wanted me to focus on "whoaing" inside that line tho, rather than shutting down the canter early and making him crawl over the in-jump. Which, you may also remember, was exactly the solution Sally wanted me working on in our lesson too.

That I need to get OUT of the habit of wanting to shut down the canter, and instead commit to my more forward balance. But also trust the fact that Charlie *IS* more adjustable now. He CAN make those changes in stride and balance sooner than before.

this is charlie's version of trying to yawn-stretch into a hug with his favorite mare Cos
We put the whole thing together and it all rode actually quite well - esp that bending right line from center jump to oxer. I added in the line, but that was possibly more a function of too much bend vs not the right canter. Plus, that type of turn was more suited to our own lateral imbalances anyway, let's be real.

Tho we went back and had to fix the 6 stride to 3 stride once more, just to really get that feeling committed. Since that simple exercise is basically the perfect microcosm of what I need to fix in my ride for Charlie right now.

Cos was too wise for those tricks tho LOL
All in all I wish I had video of the ride bc it felt so so so perfectly suited to where we are right now. And it felt like we had some real moments of problem solving, but also some real moments of, er, "not quite." So it would be useful to see how those actually look in real time. Oh well, tho, that's a downside of private lessons I guess haha!

It was also perfect bc it really wasn't necessarily a lot of jumping for Charlie, and the jumps were all definitely on the smallish side (N and below). So even when we had to repeat stuff for my own benefit, it wasn't particularly difficult or challenging or punishing for Charlie. Who, for his part, actually felt quite happy and pleasant throughout the lesson, even tho I kinda wished at times he was a bit more self-motivated LOL.

So it was definitely a good time. And a good reminder that I need to take initiative in making sure lessons get on the calendar, rather than sorta shrugging about these droughts. Bc lessons, yo, damn but I love them!

28 comments:

  1. Glad you were able to get a lesson in - sounds like some valuable tips and practice. And it sounds like it is a good thing I don't jump, since, like, you know, math and stuff? lol The diagram of the jumps/lines/strides had me a bit panicky. I kept scrolling to see cute Charlie pics. ;-)

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    1. lol, honestly it's arguable that sometimes i get a little too preoccupied with the "numbers" behind the course, at risk of ignoring some of the "feel" i have while riding. usually tho, i try to document all this stuff bc i tend to believe that the knowledge is power, and it's useful for me to learn the differences between canters etc. tho yea, tbh i'm kinda just here for the cute charlie pics too <3

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  2. Its so beautiful there! Glad you had a great lesson.

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    1. thanks! so pretty this time of year (tho i kinda wished they'd mow LOL)

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  3. Omg yes, love the duct tape hahah Those field photos were so pretty!

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    1. i kinda love how the field looks right now, even if it's not quite as useful for conditioning or schooling when it's so overgrown

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  4. I definitely feel ya! When I would jump on my own, any time I took it out of my comfort zone, I'd be like "woah this is out of my comfort zone, it doesn't feel right" and I'd basically go back to how I was doing things. So, lessons were the only time I'd improve because I was forced to get out of my comfort zone AND told I was doing things correctly!
    Such a conundrum!

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    1. totally! i feel like we've done reasonably well with just continuing to work on the same stuff outside of lessons, and usually after the fact i can review footage or reflect on how things went to better understand how to improve next time. but nothing beats getting yelled at in real time haha!

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  5. Sounds like a fun lesson. I need to do some related distance work, I'm embarrassed to say I don't even sure what Cupid's natural stride is!

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    1. definitely super fun!! i honestly kinda love combinations and grids and stuff, even if sometimes they can be tricky ;)

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  6. lessons are too helpful in getting things moving and then staying on course. Your lesson sounds like a great butt kicking. :)

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    1. It was such a perfect butt kicking lol - esp bc it was so reaffirming too!!

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  7. Glad you got back on her schedule. Sounds like she was right there with you on what you felt you needed work on.

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    1. Definitely! We don’t get lucky enough to school over actual competition courses very often so the timing here with the event the night before was perfect!!

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  8. Sounds like the perfect lesson! I absolutely love lessons because it’s hard for me to set up the things we suck at at home and then make myself school them. Much easier when someone else is handing your butt to ya. Though at least at the barn there’s someone to video- private lessons not so much!

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    1. Definitely agreed! Lately so much of my jumping has been xc honestly but it’s the same issues in all phases basically lol, so I definitely appreciated having someone there to actually coach me through!

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  9. I love when you can build on lessons and really get those solid take-aways on things to work on.

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  10. I am so happy you got a lesson! I would give a lot of money to have good jump lessons right now. Hopefully it sticks with you and you can work on the homework which will get you to where you need to be. Forward and balanced!

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    1. i'd give a lot of money too haha, unfortunately that doesn't seem to hold as much sway as i'd expect!

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  11. Lovely photos!
    ANd loving that you were able to get yourself into some lessons again - it's so tough when you have to take an unscheduled break from regular instruction. I get 1-2 lessons a month and sometimes I feel lost a week or so out from our next lesson, haha.

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  12. Yay I'm glad you were able to squeeze into someone's schedule and take a lesson!

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  13. I've had two lessons this year... lol, so I feel you! This one sounds like a great one though!

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    1. oh man, yea you know all about it! it's frustrating but hopefully just temporary i guess lol.... but yea this one was definitely useful!

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  14. Well, if it makes you feel more accomplished, my goal for the year was a whopping 3 lessons/clinics and I have gotten to exactly ZERO (not having a horse makes it harder). So 13 sounds pretty good to me!

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    1. honestly yea i'm grateful to have even gotten those 13 lessons, and am also grateful that the horse is doing so well and is healthy and feels ready and primed for a challenge. it's definitely a better place to be vs quite a few other alternatives!

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