Friday, July 3, 2015

challenging lesson is challenging...

So we rode the struggle bus right up into our lesson w Dan this week.... Our flat work was, well, not inspiring. I think Isabel was a tad pissy (quite literally - she stopped to pee as soon as we left the arena. mare - nothing was stopping you before!!! c'mon now!), and we just weren't really in sync. 

laughing bc apparently isabel's tense and retracted neck is hilarious?
We continued to focus on getting the mare in front of my leg - but I have a hard time discerning the feel for it. Meaning - Isabel's primary evasion is to get fast, tricking me into taking my leg off bc she's so reactive to it. But that leg needs to stay ON dammit. And I need to revisit the smaller and smaller circles - always feeling like I can ADD leg and let the circle do the rest.

we spent a good bit of the lesson running around semi-aimlessly trying to establish the proper gait...
Another big focus this evening: emma stop pulling for the love of all things holy!!!!! Because yea... I really need to stop pulling. Dan spent the whole evening telling me my hands were too far back, or that I needed less hand and more leg, or that Isabel was in too short of a frame...

yep still pulling!
This theme continued into the jump work. We started by cantering a single on a circle on a super collected canter with the aim of always fitting in one more stride. I got this done just fine bc hey, pulling to the base for a chip is my specialty. 

not sure about the actual distances in the lines... 
But that approach really did not work for this bending line exercise. In fact the very first time through Isabel tried to run out at the third element... Anyone who has watched any of our jumping videos will be familiar with our left drift issue... and my failure to do anything about it. Well... that kind of caught up with me during this ride. Oops!

wherein Isabel tries to exit stage left
Then we got through it a couple times, but kinda messy. Dan wanted me to start opening Isabel's stride up a little bit and jump the first element out of stride. So naturally we continued to chip in. And then add through the lines, which were supposed to be done in a collected three and yet somehow I kept fitting four?


Finally got the three in both sections, even though our first in jump wasn't really what he wanted... Then we moved on to a single on the diagonal, complete with the "V" poles Isabel and I first encountered last winter at OF. We didn't fail quite so spectacularly in this lesson, tho I had to ride quite strongly to get her over them the first time. 

she was pretty careful not to touch anything. this time, at least
I just really struggled to open up Isabel's stride and move up to the fence. She was simultaneously stuck behind my leg and running running running. So I just pulled pulled pulled. And of course what I really needed was more leg, less hand... Always and forever amen.

isabel still found a way to drift left over the placing poles.
We turned the exercise around and it didn't really materially improve. In fact, we kinda regressed a little and crashed through the "V" jump after totally whiffing the distance... Then Isabel went to her angry place wherein she's totally and completely curled under and gnashing at her bit. Dan kept telling me to let go and not touch her face... but of course it was a little late by then. In retrospect I should have just kicked her forward rather than soften up and back off when she was that curled under.... but next time I'll know better?

this wasn't actually our last round, just the last round on video. note that i'm still pulling....

Finally Dan just told me to ride her like a hunter - get up in half seat and LET GO for christs sake. So I dutifully hooked a finger through the neck strap. And whadya know mare jumped it pretty nicely, and actually landed in the same canter we jumped from, rather than speeding off like a maniac. I guess that only happens when I'm pulling too much? 

When I did everything Dan said everything was peachy keen (sorta), but I was frustrated bc without him talking me through step by step things would have stayed shitty. I commented after the ride that it would have been easier if we had just done it right the first time. And he reminded me that his lessons are designed to challenge us. Kinda a 'duh' comment, but reassuring all the same. 

I left the lesson feeling good about working through some of Isabel's blahs (which can be expected to arrive every 3-4 weeks for this mare), don't get me wrong. Of all my many shortcomings, beating myself up about slow progress is very thankfully not among them. Sometimes I just need a rough lesson to force myself to fix one problem or another (like pulling...). And at least our flat school the next day was quite surprisingly lovely - phew. So far we appear to be retaining the lesson!

20 comments:

  1. If I had a dollar for every time my trainer said "STOP moving you hands"...

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    1. lol right? we'd be able to afford endless more lessons wherein the trainer says.... "stop pulling"

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  2. Oh hey hi Identical Twin. Story of my life!!! A good little tidbit my trainer uses when my pony is hiding behind the bit and I want to follow him back with my hands is "Push him out to the bit!" I so admire you for not getting frustrated at all the little bumps in the road!

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    1. my trainers say the same thing - and it's such a great visual and reminder to push my hands forward. isabel doesn't follow the contact around yet (we're working on it) but i still need to remember to push those hands forward!

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  3. That double bender (just came up with that one) looks tough. You look so awesome doing it! It does sound like a tough lesson, but good since it was very productive!
    I love your gifs, they are addictive to watch.

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    1. thanks haha - and glad you love the gifs, they may actually be my favorite! and that bending line was seriously tricky - esp trying to smooth it out, which we never quite accomplished!

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  4. Letting go is the hardest thing to learn!

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    1. tell me about it!! maybe one day haha

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  5. I have a horse that tricks you into pulling and removing your leg too. Been working on it for years, still working on it. They don't make it any easier to do right. Sounds like a productive lesson.

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    1. they really don't make it any easier, do they? i guess this is definitely one of those mind over matter parts of riding

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  6. I swear Issy is saying "just let me run rookie, I got this" lol.

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    1. lol you might be right about that - she wants to be freeeeeee!

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  7. twister was a hot head today. it's a chestnut horse thing. try and pull your arms out all. day. long.

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    1. gotta love that feeling when you get off and your arms feel 2" longer haha

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  8. I swear these tricky mares are all like "wheeee let's go fast you can take your leg off PSYCH." Goofy little beasts.

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    1. haha that's exactly what it feels like! tricksy tricksy mares!

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  9. "Of all my many shortcomings, beating myself up about slow progress is very thankfully not among them. Sometimes I just need a rough lesson to force myself to fix one problem or another (like pulling...)" YOU HAVE THE BEST ATTITUDE EVER. I need to do more of that in my life.

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    1. haha thanks - i'm not sure the 'no fucks given' attitude is appropriate for everything, but in this instance it serves me well :)

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  10. I totally know how you feel. I used to ride this horse that was an explosion (seriously ALWAYS tried to dump me) and he wanted to be SO reactive at my leg it was frustrating.

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    1. frustrating is a good word for it. esp bc the horses in my past who were so reactive would really benefit from a quick break to gallop around a little and take the edge off. whereas isabel doesn't get tired from that and just gets more wound up. so i need to properly channel her energy - not always an easy task!

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