Thursday, June 11, 2015

catching up (again)

Phew I feel like the week after a horse show is one big mess of trying to catch up. So many things happened before Waredaca - including xc schooling, fun fun! (but that post is still to come) - and even more has happened since. 

So I'm squishing two lessons into this post: our lesson at OF right before the event (from which I have loads of media) and our lesson with Dan earlier this week (from which I have zero media).


isabel loves the barn rats. they understand how to treat a princess - and are shown here catering to her voracious appetite for hay
Tho if we're being honest - I occasionally wonder where this drive to document everything comes from. Like, will the world end if I fail to write about one lesson? Do I think readers are waiting with bated breath to hear that we went somewhere and jumped something? Probably not. But I think there's more to it than that. 

The thing is, I really like horses. Like reeeally like them - like whoa. And my life is generally better with horses around. I'm probably preachin' to the choir here lol. But every now and then this little voice creeps in telling me to appreciate what I've got. 


See - my current equestrian situation is unlike anything I've ever experienced, especially as someone who has never owned a horse. And all these things we're doing right now? All these lessons and shows, and traveling around wherever whenever? It's a fulfillment of so many childhood hopes and dreams. And it feels GOOD. And the possibilities seem endless. 

But we know better - we know that there's no such thing as endless, and especially with horses it's foolish to think a good thing will last forever. It's my goal to keep riding at this level and beyond and to keep Isabel as my partner for as long as I can - but someday things will be different. And that's ok. But a major motivation for this blog is to document it so I can look back later and remember these moments.

There is a secondary motivation too, tho. I don't have to tell you that lessons are expensive. And it's not just the fee itself - it's all the time and the effort and all the other related costs. I'm fine with that - but I also want to squeeze as much value from each lesson as humanly possible. Thus, by writing every detail and tidbit, I hope to reinforce the knowledge in myself and create a 'repository' for future reference. 

Thus - all the nitty gritty lesson details haha. So. Um. In case you were curious - there's a little insight into the 'why' behind 'Fraidy Cat Eventing!


Anyway... slight diversion aside, the OF lesson was a good one for assessing where we were, but not great for doing much about it. The day before a show is not really my favorite day for rocking the boat... so even tho our flat work was very weak and trainer P urged me again and again to get Isabel stretching her nose down and out and lifting through her belly and back... we just never really got there. 

I maybe wasn't trying too hard either, perhaps bc I thought we could 'fake it' through our test the next day (haha oh BOY was I wrong...) and then schedule a lesson with C from TM pronto to figure things out. I also just thought Izzy was a little off her game from being in season. 


As it was, the flat work was not inspiring in the slightest but I was somewhat in denial about it. Perhaps that's another pitfall of riding with different trainers - I just think 'eh, I'll work on that later with C' when really I should be confident in each of my trainers' professionalism and expertise and ability to help us. Hopefully that lesson is learned!


The jumping was a whole different matter tho. We warmed up over a couple smaller fences but kept it to an absolute minimum. Isabel was fine. Then P set up a long-ish competition size course for us. Isabel NAILED it. Ate it right up. We moved up to almost all of the distances and just felt very in sync.


I mean, sure - there were some issues. We knocked the rail over the liverpool for no reason I can ascertain, and could not for the life of me find a nice line to the coop (which required a few re-dos that still didn't really fix it). But I felt really good about it going into the show.



And of course you already read about how stadium went at Waredaca (and I will hopefully have some awesome pics to share soon!!!). Good stuff. 

Moving on to our lesson with Dan, we continued riding the struggle bus during our flat work. The same issues with getting too deep and curling under were present. Dan diagnosed it as Isabel just not 'using' herself and said to keep working on it without changing bits/equipment/etc. (tho he did point out moments when a dressage whip would be appropriate... and I typically have a whip and spurs in dressage lessons, just not otherwise. maybe that should change?)

He wanted me changing things up while we trotted. Don't just get stuck in a certain trot - mess with it. Open it up. Collect it. Keep Isabel with me. He said that if I just get so stuck on rhythm alone we'll run into problems when something like a 10m turn crops up on a test. It is disruptive if I don't already have Isabel present with me. 

Same story as always for the canter too. Dan didn't want me cantering very long - just working hard to get organized, nice transitions (up and down - no fast trotting in between!) and only a few strides of canter at a time. Oh, and pretty much no hand ever. This is always hard for us... but was especially so during this lesson. 


striding to the diagonal jumps was variable based on our line, but Dan preferred that we came out of the poles very straight (no turning early!) and did the add stride
The jumping exercise was really a flat work exercise. Dan actually referred to jumping as a litmus test for flat work - saying that you might think everything is peachy while flatting around. But then you start jumping and chip in here, get a leaper there, and it's all bc of weakness in the flat work. (which for him always seems to mean weakness in the canter).

We slowly built it up - starting with two canter poles, then three, then raising the vertical and adding another pole on either side with each pass. Then adding in the turns to the diagonal fences. Then finally putting the whole figure 8 together. 

He wanted our canter organized and compressed for the 9' distances - and said we'd know when the canter was right when the first pole came up perfectly in stride. And upon reaching the first pole we were to soften our hands and allow the horse freedom through the line. 

Each individual pass was pretty easy with the right canter (and it was always obvious whether I had that 'right' canter or not). The real challenge was putting it all together and staying on the figure 8 until Dan told us to stop. That shit was HARD! It took soooo much leg. 

Our first laps in each direction went fine, but then I got tired and wasn't squeezing as much with my legs and Isabel got strung out and we kept missing the poles. But we were still going and going so I had to dig deep to really keep my leg ON and keep the horse together. Finally we got it and he let us stop and I kinda wanted to die. 

An interesting note tho - Isabel got her leads each and EVERY time, both directions. And I FELT it - and felt like I was actually influencing it. That's a first for me, and was pretty exciting. But yea I still kinda wanted to die after finishing. 

But don't let that deter you from trying this at home haha! It was actually pretty fun and fairly easy to set up, all things considered :P

20 comments:

  1. Aha! Now I see what you mean about the canter poles- that does indeed look tricky!

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    1. it was tricky but good. and actually having that center pole be an actual jump helped to 'reset' the horse if we whiffed our distance to the first pole.

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  2. I love blogging because it lets you see how far you've come. Like, for instance, since I started following you a few months ago until now- WOAH what a transformation! You guys are looking like ballers!

    One of my favorite exercises to make a horse use themselves is working different trots- super collected, working, stretchy, and lengthened- so what your trainer recommended! I just mix it up between those 4, throw in a few leg yields, shoulder ins, and haunches in if the horse gets too strung out or flat. When I do this, I try to dictate the collection 90% from my seat alone. Candy loved contact, so I had a firm connection with his mouth, but Sawyer I rode 99% from my seat and legs. Usually 10-15 minutes of just varying collection, direction, and bend helps the horse really reach up under themselves. It'll get there! Keep working at it!

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    1. haha thanks! it's certainly been a journey with isabel - and i finally feel like i'm back to where things were before taking a few years off riding lol. and that's a great approach to flat work. i always *think* i will ride that way... but then i end up getting conservative, worried that i'll piss of the mare or something lol...

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  3. I think it's funny that you should mention some of your reasons for blogging in this post - it's actually really timely for me since I've been having a weird week and have been questioning why I'm blogging. It's really nice to know that other people have this off drive to document thing a too though. A lot of our reasons are very similar! So thanks for that :)

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    1. haha sounds like yet another thing in common! it's been a weird week here too in the personal non-horsey realm and i almost didn't get some posts up that i wanted up and thought 'well who really cares?' except, the answer is me. i care. so i did it. and it actually felt like a good little mental exercise to go through - writing down the reasons etc :)

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    2. (Sorry for the typos above - typing on my phone...)

      I'm slowly coming to realization again to.. I care. And even if I'm the only one who cares then it's still important enough for me to do it. Hoping to resume my regular post schedule next week...

      I've really enjoyed following yours and Izy's progress though! You've really come leaps and bounds and it's so cool to see

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    3. thank you! it's really crazy the difference from when i started riding her (and routinely referred to her as 'useless'). re: blogging, i think it's good to care - each of us for ourselves. i like blog traffic and comments and all that a LOT, but if that's the only reward for posting i'm bound to end up disappointed (esp when my favorite posts are never as popular as some rando filler. wtf ppl really? lol).

      at the same time tho, i'm all about reducing pressure on myself - and i'll be damned if i ever want to feel overwhelmed by my blog haha. if that means taking a little (or big) break from blogging, so be it!

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    4. ^ Totally with you here! I wrote this awesome (I think) post on my reaction to watching American Pharaoh win the Belmont and was so so proud of that post...and it's had all of two comments. WTF. But the people I care about the most read and communicated with me directly about how moved they had been by it, including the people I mention in that post. I guess maybe a reader has to know me personally to get it? I dunno.

      So I'm very much with you about posting because *I* care, about blogging for me first. I started my blog as a way to record Lily's training because typing is so much easier than journaling by hand (what I used to do) and the blog format allows for the insertion of photos to illustrate what happened. I would have had to take up scrapbooking to create something similar IRL and that is beyond time-consuming! ;)

      And I always love your lesson recaps. I don't always comment but they always leave me thinking. Thank you for sharing!

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    5. ok so first of all now i have to go back and read that post again! but yea - i also used to keep actual physical journals (that were maybe a bit scrap-booky in nature) and while i loved them, this blog is WAY easier haha. esp with phone cameras being what they are it's SO easy to just snap away, upload, and hit publish. can't really beat that! (esp bc i love looking at pics, which may or may not be obvious by this blog lol). glad also to hear the recaps are occasionally useful!

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  4. That is so many canter poles! Very cool exercise.

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    1. omg so many poles! they rode really well tho, esp bc isabel doesn't have much work in compressing down to a 9' stride. might be harder for a horse with a little more step? but that vertical in the center really helped haha

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  5. Hooray my internet is letting me comment again!!! First of all, I've been loving all of your posts lately. You and Iz are so much fun to follow along with :)
    Second of all, you just perfectly articulated so much that I can relate to- wanting to appreciate and enjoy everything now because leasing can be uncertain, blogging to get the most value out of every ride, and the joy of doing all these different amazing things. Just the other day my friend mentioned that when she reads my lesson reviews she realizes all this stuff we worked on in our lesson that she hadn't considered. It really does help! This all resonated so much :)

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    1. haha i love it when our internet cooperates! and thanks - glad this post resonated. leasing is both amazing for all the access we get to the horse at a reduced cost (not to mention safety from financial catastrophe) but uncertain is a good word for it...

      and yes i absolutely learn from writing it out - it jogs the memory too! (tho i end up kicking myself when i'm writing the same things week after week bc i apparently still haven't learned my lessons)

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  6. I hope you can stick with Izzy for a while, because you make a great team and I've enjoyed watching your progress together.

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    1. thank you! that is my hope too, and there's no real reason to believe anything is changing any time soon. while it would be lying to say i'm not overly attached, i do try to keep things in perspective... sorta lol

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  7. I love your blog, although it does make me miss my chestnut arab mare. Now I have a black arab and I'm horrifying all the eventers with our snorking!

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    1. thanks so much for commenting - just clicked over to your blog (which i hadn't seen before) and am dying over Stella's cuteness! snorking arabs ftw haha

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  8. I too feel the need to document everything! It's fun to go back later on and read though. I've been able to relive Rico's progress from fourth to GP and even my posts on TC from December demonstrate how hilariously bad he used to be.

    You guys look amazing! Sounds like you guys keep getting thrown more and more complicated exercises and keep dominating them. Yay!

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    1. oh man it's such a great way to look back and see that there IS progress, esp after a crappy ride lol. and while i don't expect to take a horse to GP i can imagine how great it is to relive some of those moments and memories!

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