Thursday, January 18, 2018

cavalleti time!

For a variety of reasons, this month has been really tough for our standard Saturday lessons with trainer P. She had to cancel two weeks ago, I had to cancel last week. She'll have to cancel this weekend, and I'm not going to be there the week after. That's just how it goes sometimes, I guess. Maybe by the time we get back on track, the outdoor will be thawed??

Anyway, it's been useful to keep up our weekly lessons with K in the meantime too. This week marked our fourth lesson - with another variation on grids.

turns out we *can* actually balance a more forward canter in the indoor. who knew!
This time, she set three elements on a bending line around one short end of the arena. You can see the full exercise pretty easily in the gif and video below, but it was essentially: two adjustable jumps (ie: standards and pole) as the outside elements, and a cavalleti in the middle. All spread about 21' apart on a bending line (basically an arc of a 20m circle).

i find this acceptable lol
We started by cantering through with the two outside elements as just ground poles, with the cavaletti between. In retrospect..... I probably should have trotted through my first time. Or, uh, maybe even walked. Because adding the bend to the grid was kinda a mind fuck for Charlie lol.

tho.... we had some funny moments too.....
It turns out steering is hard, yo! Charlie met the first ground pole ok, but then kinda had a major "WTF" moment at the cavelleti (below, and in the gif haha) then almost nailed a standard on our way out. Uh, whoops?

"oh no :( " - charlie
After that unexpected moment of fuckery, things smoothed out a little bit. This is one of those exercises that seems REALLY simple in construction, but actually is kinda mind melting to ride. Not least because it actually wants a bit more of a forward and open canter than I typically ride in the indoor.

via GIPHY

But when I actually did allow Charlie to canter forward? Suddenly the distances started working for us (they definitely did not want to work from trot either). And actually it got easier as the two outside elements grew too.

looking a little more confident here!
First the final element became just one rail of a cross rail, then a full cross rail. Then the first element also became a cross rail. Then they all became verticals. All the while taking turns to run through on both leads (although for some reason most of my pictures are on the right lead, oops).

it doesn't look like much, but this is a thinking, balanced horse. also, kinda a chunky horse. i likey.
For my part, I needed to keep thinking about riding Charlie forward - and holding my hands a little wider so my inside hand could be more open. And more leg. Always more leg. It was supposed to be one smooth bend instead of "jump - turn - jump - turn - jump!" so my eyes had to be looking through the entire exercise from the very beginning.

"yea i'm kinda a big deal" - charlie
I think the coolest feeling was when it *clicked* for Charlie. He was kinda backed off and confused at first, and then started rushing a little bit (esp when it was just ground poles). But after one or two smooth trips through it was like.... he just got it.


In fact, toward the end I kinda botched a few of my turns (like I do) and Charlie still just carried on easily. It was kinda like I could just close my leg as if to say "Uh, sorry bro, figure it out!" and he would respond "Yep, totes got this! Hang on!"

trying to make sure trainer K also recognizes that he is, in fact, kinda a big deal.
I definitely like getting that feeling from Charlie haha. So it was a good exercise for that. Actually REALLY reminiscent of the cavalleti warm up exercise Boyd Martin used in the clinic I audited two winters ago. The major difference here being: this was the full ride, whereas Boyd just used it as a warm up.

My guess is that's more a function of dealing with the limited options in the indoor, but it would have been nice to finish the ride with maybe a real jump or two. All the same tho, I'm excited to work over these exercises that really encourage Charlie to think more deeply about the path ahead of him, and learn how to get through it even when I mess up.

he's not spoiled, you're spoiled
I esp appreciate the cavalleti exercises bc you can really dial up the intensity pretty significantly, while still keeping the exercise relatively low impact and safe for the horse. Charlie learned a lot this lesson - even when we had some really messy moments. But the forgiving nature of cavelleti exercises allowed him to keep learning without getting worried or backed off. Definitely something to try again!

And hopefully we'll have some fun opportunities to jump some bigger stuff - maybe this weekend?!?! All crossables crossed on that front haha.

Do you like to do highly technical ground pole or cavalleti exercises? Have you tried this one? Or other similar variations or configurations? Adjustability is big on my mind lately so I'm always looking for easy-to-set-up ideas!

19 comments:

  1. What a neat exercise. I have done the poles on a circle and I love it.

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    1. oooh the circle of death??? i still haven't done the full thing with charlie, only like half at a time. in some ways, the above exercise is kinda easier than that bc you only have to hold the bend for half a circle instead of a full. both fun/challenging tho!

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  2. This looks hard but SO good and so cool. Griffin is gonna hate all of the things I've accumulated for him to try when we get back to a steady schedule.

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    1. hahaha tuff stuff, Grif! i kinda love stock piling exercise ideas for that eventual day when the ground will be good again!

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  3. Loves these exercises with Batty at the trot (with ground poles)!

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    1. trotting poles on a bending line is SUCH a good exercise too -- really keeps ya honest about balance and rhythm!

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  4. Bending lines rock my world. It totally messed with me last weekend when my trainer had us jump a bending line. Especially since we hadn't jumped in awhile! I don't love highly technical exercises like this (because my automatic reaction is that P will stop), which just means we have to do it more!

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    1. ugh yea bending is hard. charlie kinda figured out a longer distance in bending lines last season (we practiced a lot at 3-4+ strides), but this one stride business.... phew, tough! i think for me, the hardest part about it was that my habit is to try to shorten and compress (ie pull) charlie into a smaller canter to make it easier to steer him.... but even tho 21' is still technically a compressed one stride distance, it rides more open in a 20x40m indoor. so i actually needed to ride him FORWARD into the exercise, which .... is not really what i'm naturally wanting to do lol. but yup. more practice, always more!

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  5. Grid. on a bend. awhellno. You rode that so well! and ya, Charlie is definitely a big deal :D

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    1. dude it was challenging, and... honestly kinda embarrassing to struggle bus so hard through it when it was just ground poles and a single cavalleti. like.... why is it always the smallest jumps that screw us up the most? thanks tho - fortunately charlie picked up the slack for us!!!

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  6. Haha Charlie is absolutely a big deal! That is such a good exercise. My very first jump lesson was a bit like this one - vertical, pole, vertical, pole and just on an endless circle. It was such a good exercise to keep me focused on the circle and hitting every jump with a good stride, but then really getting me there with making me push forward forward because then the striding would actually happen lol. But this is only a one stride and like bending while you're jumping. But damn, Charlie got it! He is right to think he's a big deal ;)

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    1. yea these exercises are so great bc they really do force the rider to allow the exercise to "speak" to the horse, as it were, while the rider just focuses on getting the horse set up to ride forward through it. and i think charlie enjoys it! it almost feels a little bit like he's trying to solve a puzzle. and once he's got it, he's super excited about how clever he thinks he is lolol

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  7. i may or may not have watched that gif a few times too many of him going huh at the third element. LOVE CHARLIE :) HA i am so glad he is so amazing though :) he really did FIGURE SHIT OUT. Such a thinker our Charles :) thanks for sharing!!

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    1. lol yea the gif is mesmerizing, no? but actually so is the full video - i love how clearly you can see the wheels turning in his head!

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  8. Hot damn is he looking like a pro.

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    1. he's pretty convinced he's the greatest ever lol

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  9. Steering is legit hard. I love watching his ears - he's so game!

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    1. he's such a good boy, really truly wants to figure it out and get the answer right!

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  10. I love when you can see his brain start to slowly pick up each element of the exercise. He's such a good boy.

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