Friday, February 9, 2018

about that lesson....

Thanks all for your kind words and wishes for a speedy recovery after Charlie's nail-impalement mishap. It's hard to believe.... but he seems.... fine.

me, when my horse keeps finding new and inventive ways to maim himself
Idk how he does this. Like, he seems to toe right up onto the edge of catastrophe, maybe even sticking his nose ever so slightly over the line... And yet manages to walk away relatively unscathed. I know in my gut that one day, Sir, those wax wings of yours will melt. But today does not appear to be that day.

Vet's orders are to remain vigilant for a potential abscess. Barring that, tho, the horse is sound and cleared for duty. Crazy, I know. But that's Charlie for ya.

aaaaand.... how i cope.
I, on the other hand, might need a few more days to emerge from my cocoon of slightly muted panic. Bc a giant nail in my horse's hoof can have that effect, ya know? But seeing Charlie feeling healthy and happy (and SOUND), with his standard dopey expression really helps!

So in the meantime, while I try to pull myself and my tangled nerves out of the puddle we melted into... In the meantime, let's talk about that how that lesson went before Charlie discovered that nail in a manner exactly opposite of conquering heroes from days past.

flashback to that time my horse did cool things like arena eventing at loch moy
The lesson was kinda fraught with disaster from the start - since we had an overnight ice storm and I needed to reshuffle my work schedule to move the lesson to the afternoon. It was still rainy and icy tho, and the walk up to the arena was slightly harrowing.

Then as we got started, Charlie was moving out a little stiffly. Probably from having stood on literal ice for the past few hours (tho at least his new Mio sheet kept him AND his medium weight blanket nice and dry!!). He loosened up quickly tho, esp with some open cantering on each lead.

oh he also won a year end award too!!
New upper level event trainer K had promised we'd do something other than grids this week, and she did not disappoint. Plus she'd already set everything up - since Charlie and I were her third back to back lesson in a row (and yet Charlie had to be the one to find the nail... grrr).

It was pretty simple stuff, and all starting nice and low to help Charlie ease into the exercises and tune in. We started by trotting up the center line to a single blue vertical at the far end, repeating and changing directions as the jump grew slightly with each pass. Then turned around to do the same exercise, but taking the short turn down the center line to the vertical (coming from A instead of C) and focusing on landing straight in canter.

somehow we pulled 3rd in the BN rankings despite only completing one BN for 4th place lol
This was all well and fine for Charlie, so we quickly moved on to the panel jump with placing poles on either side at E. It started as a panel cross rail and grew every couple of passes, and we circled from each direction cantering in.

My biggest focus here was the turn: Turning early enough with outside knee and open inside hand, and sitting my ass down in the saddle through the turn to encourage Charlie to step up and carry himself forward on his hind legs.

anyway, more interesting things: this lesson's course diagram. plain vertical on center line. vertical at E with placing poles. hog's back oxer at B. 4" mother fucking nail at H.
I also needed to focus on keeping the canter coming forward. My tendency is to try to micromanage Charlie a little too much, to ride him in too quiet of a canter, where we then have to make big last minute moves to get to where we want to be at the jump. And as such, we had a couple misses where I kinda just threw the reins at him and let him find his own way through lol.

Mostly tho, the whole art of this particular exercise was the turn. Given that the arena is 40x20m, and the jump was set on the E-B line, if I got my turn right, we'd then have 3 forward strides after finishing the turn to reach the placing pole. If I didn't get the turn right? Getting through the whole mini gymnastic was a bit trickier.

photographic representation of the same.
After repeating that for a while, I expected the hog's back oxer to ride just fine. And we treated it in the same manner: approaching at canter off both leads, with it going up every couple of passes. Turns out tho, it only really rode easily if I executed the turn well. In this size arena, there really isn't a lot of forgiveness for being sloppy turning down the center or quarter lines. Go figure.

Trainer K wanted to see me be a little more disciplined in both my upper body (sitting up taller and deeper in the saddle in turns to the jumps) and legs (lower legs forward over the fence). And wanted to see me ride a more forward canter, but still keeping Charlie's attention and softness, moving the bit in his mouth if he was getting away from me.

charlie, looking bored by ground poles one evening earlier this week
The final exercise was to be: come down over the mini gymnastic on our right lead, find somewhere to change directions, then come down over the hog's back on our left lead. But... Charlie picked up that nasty little giant nail just as we were picking up our canter.

So. Ya know. That was kinda that.


It was otherwise a good lesson tho, lots to think about for me as rider. I need to commit to memory this feeling of a more forward but still balanced canter. While also being more accountable (ie, less sloppy) in our turns and straightness to fences. When those pieces check out, then it's just a matter of making sure my body parts are all where they belong lol.

It was also yet another lesson making me wish we had more options when it comes to conditioning right now. Private jumping lessons are.... a lot more intense than group lessons haha. And Charlie was constantly trying to drop anchor at every passing standard to catch a little break. As if he couldn't figure out why it was always "his turn" and nobody else was going in between our trips to give us a breather lol.

That's fine tho. More fitness will help. And esp when we're outside more consistently (or when summer rolls around and Brita's school is out) I expect we'll get more group or semi-private lessons too. Which, honestly, tends to be my preference for jumping lessons anyway.

Ya know. Assuming Charlie doesn't get himself killed between now and then. Always a big "if" there, apparently.... Sigh. Do you like private jumping lessons? Or do you prefer groups? Or do you just kinda roll with what you can get?

32 comments:

  1. I much prefer private or semi-private (not jumping though). I think this training is going to make everything so much easier when you show.

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    1. Yea private is definitely my preferred for flat work too. Over fences I find that there's a lot to be learned from watching other riders execute exercises too.

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  2. I’m glad things were going well before that stupid nail was picked up. I’ve always done private lessons mostly because I’m not at a point equal to anyone else who lessons with trainer right now. If I ever catch up to her other students I may try to sneak in a group lesson. Also all her other students can ride in the day and I’m stuck to after work, so timing becomes an issue too.

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    1. I hope you do get to try a group lesson sometime! Actually my current trainer is a lot more relaxed about mixing levels in her jump lessons and I think everyone has something to gain from it. Lower level horses might make some potential mistakes in a more obvious way so that more advanced riders can be more aware of correcting those issues for themselves. And more novice riders get the opportunity of seeing a lot of examples over maybe larger or more complicated exercises in a way that maybe makes them seem more accessible and worth a shot. Win win. Plus I just love riding with friends and enjoy creating camaraderie with new lesson mates haha. The scheduling tho... That definitely makes it tricky.

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  3. I'm SO glad Charlie isn't much worse for wear from his encounter with the nail! That sounds like a great lesson though, and definitely like something my own trainer would devise to torture me with. Overall I prefer private lessons, but absolutely agree with you that group lessons provide a nice built in rest period when everyone is lacking fitness! And CONGRATS on that lovely year end award! :D

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    1. Yea these exercises were definitely a little more tortuous than I expected lol! And it's interesting, I really liked my private lessons with Dan a few summers ago, but Isabel was also a different kind of horse than Charlie and would just keep powering through. I like these lessons with K a lot but am finding myself looking forward to having group mates.

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  4. with a baby horse i prefer private lessons. I like the flexibility of drilling an exercise a couple times if he needs it, or jumping one jump on a circle, or or or... I find myself getting frustrated when im trying to work through something and I have to stop to give someone else a go.

    as the horse gets more broke i much prefer semiprivate or group lessons for jumping. it helps to watch other people, gives your horse a natural break, and its honestly more fun.

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    1. yea that's definitely important to have flexibility with the young'uns! i'm lucky that my trainer P, who started me and charlie over fences, doesn't really adhere to the "hour lesson" format lol. we're her last lesson of the day (all boarders) and we go as long as we need to go. and she's pretty serious about a horse working through an exercise until they're getting it or doing what they need to be doing. with a different trainer or a more strict, limiting time frame, it might be a very different story. but with her? the group format works for even very individualized needs. bc yea i agree completely that the groups (esp with friends!) are definitely more fun haha

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  5. My lessons are always private or semi-private cause we're the only two students who jump. Or ride hunt seat at all haha. I like the mix of both - I enjoy the camaraderie of having two of us (we're also both named Holly so that's SUPER fun for my poor trainer), I enjoy watching and I definitely enjoy having some breaks lol. On the flip side, it's also really nice to have one on one attention, to be able to go do something again right away and having more space in the indoor! That course looks fun! I like when you post what you have setup in your indoor since ours are similar sizes.

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    1. ha yea i honestly try to document as much as i can about interesting exercises - whether they're interesting bc of technicality or complexity, or interesting bc of how they make use of limited resources like space or equipment. ya never know when you're gonna want inspo for something like this!

      and also that's hilarious that the only two of you at your barn who jump are both hollys lol. very cool that you're able to ride together! i like semi privates a lot, or groups of 2-3 too.

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  6. I tend to really prefer private lessons, but I've started to really love semi-private lessons lately. There is not as much wait time as a group lesson, but you still get the added bonus of watching someone else do the exercise and maybe learn something from how they do it.

    I am also in a place where I am needing to focus on the feeling of the forward, balanced canter. I feel like I can only have one or the other (which is obviously not true, and I've ridden a forward balanced canter on Charmer so many times).

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    1. ugh i feel ya on having only one or the other. i think i spent so much time feeling like charlie was just charging away with me, long and flat and totally out of control (with a very limited education about what to do when he actually reached the jumps) that i'm kinda over-correcting now with riding him too quiet and collected. he's schooled enough now to carry himself more forward tho, i just need to trust it! awesome that you're liking your semi-privates now too - there's definitely something to be gained from watching others work.

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    2. That is exactly how I feel about the canter! Charmer used to be so on the forehand if I let him open up, that it felt like he was going to fall on his face. Now he is way more balanced when going forward, but for some reason I still struggle trusting him & that forward motion!

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    3. darn these green beans always changing and evolving and improving on us lol. i'm constantly dealing with trying to ride charlie of yesterday while charlie of today is all like "da fuq you doin up there, keep up with me lady!"

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  7. I much prefer group lessons; so many benefits besides the physical break (but that's a big one because my horse and I are never fit enough). I find watching someone else being taught helps me take in concepts better than I might while riding and trying to do what a coach is asking. Also I love the moral support it can provide not just myself, but for a green horse. And, honestly it is just more fun to have company :)

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    1. agree 1000% about learning from watching the others. esp bc a different rider and horse might run into issues very different from what i'm currently experiencing - but that getting to watch them tackle those issues gives me the opportunity to learn what to do when those issues arise. very useful. also, yea i love the moral support and cheer leading lol

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  8. I love private lessons though I'll do semi privates if necessary. I hate group lessons and won't do them anymore but have in my past life. My extreme hatred was more that they were "one size fits all" and I usually was riding up with people better than me. It was fine when I wanted to jump bigger but I often felt over faced (Subi was fine). Subi tended to stress in large groups at times too (more cantering in large groups though we did fine in our adult lessons rather than riding in the teen lessons). When I was riding made horses before I bought Subi, I was fine in groups, even riding up, as the horses pretty much just carted me around. But, I prefer to do things perfectly and to analyze and privates allow me the time to discuss. Groups just...don't.

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    1. yea i can definitely see where that would be problematic. mostly, i would honestly put the onus on the trainer for ensuring that each member of the group is getting what they need from the lesson - that nobody is over faced or falling behind, while everyone is still challenged appropriately for their level.

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    2. It's more my old trainer... I'm sure things would be different with current trainer but since she doesn't do too many groups, it's a non issues.

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    3. yea i mean, so much of what goes into a successful training program relies heavily on chemistry with the trainer, right? they all have their own styles and own ways of either "survival of the fittest" (ie, keep up or get left behind) or a heavy one-on-one focus, tho most fall somewhere in between and can balance individual and group needs with reasonable success.

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  9. I do private with Emily (dressage) and whatever I get with Sally (Jumping, usually one other person shares with me in these lessons but last time I was by myself and it was EXHAUSTING No down time) HA! I dont want to ever ride with more than 3 people again though. I dont think you get enough bang for your buck honestly. (caveat except for cc schooling with sally even with up to 5 i get plenty of buck for my bang (See what i did there LOL)

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    1. idk i still think you should come down for one of our saturday afternoon lessons with trainer P this summer - they routinely run around 2hrs long haha. lately it's been me and brita, plus two other boarders, with a third other boarder who recently joined too. and our friend rachael occasionally comes too. and yup, there's plenty of buck for your bang to be found here too ;)

      srsly tho, you should totally come. even if it's for xc schooling instead of a standard arena lesson!

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    2. i would love to do that. (Oh and congrats on your year end!!). Where is your barn located again let me map it). Would love to see Brita and Racheal again too! :) HA HAHA

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    3. we'd all love that! i'll email you details but suspect it'd be about a 40-45 min drive for you

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  10. Sounds like a good lesson before the nail of death lol. Right now Trainer G only has private lessons since I think I'm one of her only students at the moment lol. It's definitely intense because we only break for a bit, but I'd be happy to be in a group of 2-3 (myself included) riders. I'll take video for them and they can get video for me! Haha if it would work that way for me lol. Poor Charlie was probably like OMG GUYS. GOTTA REST lol. I'm SO SO SO GLAD he didn't hurt himself worse with that nail. WOW. I understand taking it slow and being careful. I agree with you - abscesses you can deal with!

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    1. yea a small group of 2-3 always seems like a good size to me, esp when it's my friends! the mutual videographer work never hurts either haha!! maybe one of these days you'll find an opportunity for a group ride too?

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  11. Boootiful ribbon!!!!! :D The first year end award is always exciting (and every year end award after that too). Sorry the weather is suck and that Charlie had to go impale himself to catch a break! Sounds like a good lesson and I hope you guys get back out there soon.

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    1. i'm hopeful we'll be able to get back out there again soon... i'm like 80% sure that charlie will eventually abscess from the nail puncture (and it'll probably be horrifying bc i'm going to be paranoid and then he's going to be catastrophically crippled but then it'll just ((hopefully)) be an abscess....) but for now i'm just keeping my eyes up and looking forward to spring!

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  12. Congrats on the ribbon!!

    For lessons, I prefer privates but when jumping I don't mind 1-2 extra people.

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    1. yea private is definitely my jam for flat work. my former trainer dan used to be able to do a reasonable balance for flat work in a group setting - he'd just focus really heavily on one rider for like 10 minutes while the others mostly walked or worked on their own, then he'd change focus to someone else. mostly tho it's hard on the flat. over fences seems easier bc usually only one person is jumping at a time anyway.

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  13. I'm so glad there seems to be no damage from the nail! I'd be freaking out, too. My dressage trainer just does private lessons, which is good because she's a bit intense and it's hard to be shouting instructions at a group doing flat work/dressage. My jump trainer has legit clinic groupies because apparently he gives great clinics, but I do privates with him as well.

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