Thursday, February 27, 2020

the anti-grid grid

After a few days of gorgeous and DRY weather after what felt like weeks of rain, the morning of our most recent lesson dawned gray and soggy. Womp haha. At least the footing was pretty much perfect tho after the dry spell!

pics today are mostly unrelated. just random snaps from my phone! here, i can't tell if he's trying to optimize his head height for scritches, or if his head is just plain ol' too heavy haha
This was my first chance to fill in the gaps for resident upper level event rider K about what, specifically, Sally had said about Charlie's uphill balance during our clinic a couple weeks ago. And to start thinking about ways to continue developing the horse's canter in that direction.

And true to form, trainer K had a great exercise for us to try. We warmed up with a figure 8 pattern over two simple verticals first. Wherein we pretty effectively demonstrated the whole "little short here, little long there" pattern haha - especially off the R lead. Then it was on to the exercise!
the grid in its final form
from L to R: a set of low verticals 1 stride apart with placing pole between, left side of placing pole raised slightly. 4 strides to oxer, with plank placed along the left side of the line of travel to discourage drift. V-poles placed on oxer to improve straightness.
It was a grid, but also kinda not a grid at the same time, if that makes sense. Or, rather, still a gymnastic exercise - but spread out over slightly longer distances.

Often when I think of a grid or gymnastic, I'm imagining a combination of elements that flow fairly smoothly across short distances (bounces or 1 or 2 strides) from one to the next without requiring a lot of adjustments from the rider. Like, it's the rider's job to arrive at the first element at the appropriate speed / balance / straightness / etc, and to stay straight down the line. But generally that's kinda it - there isn't usually a whole lot of room for much else.

charlie looking at me like i just interrupted a moment here
This line was a little different bc the final element was spaced just shy of 60' from the start of the grid. That's..... plenty of room for stuff to happen LOL. Plenty of room to get in trouble ;)

charlie creepin on the new barn cat
The line started by two relatively low verticals with a placing pole between them. I didn't ask the exact measurements here, but knowing trainer K's focus on improving our balance on a 12' stride, I'm guessing the verticals were north of 20' apart. 

This one stride grid, combined with the bounce pole in between, was intended to get Charlie lifting and using his shoulders. As you all may be perfectly aware, he kinda likes to jump a little flat and across, without necessarily a whole lot of lifting up. Theoretically, these first few elements would help set the tone for Charlie.

tho no cat could ever compare to chatty cat from isabel's barn, who i saw over the weekend while building the standards!!
But then.... We had 4 strides (on a sliiiightly shorter than true distance, not quite 60') to actually try to hold that together. So, in other words, we had to actually kinda work for it lol, instead of letting the grid do the work for us. Does that sorta make sense? 

out wanderin the farm. they finally filled in the massively eroded canyon on this sweet uphill path!
It was actually pretty interesting, too. Like. I'm almost positive that I've ridden very similar jump configurations before. The part of the T show jumping course at the Aloha HT that we actually completed before I fell off had almost the same line, but backwards (so a long line into a one stride).

And I bet if I dug around long enough I'd find examples of something similar with trainer P, who adores grids and gymnastics of all stripes. Tho, she sets almost everything on a shorter compressed stride.

wanderin the fields with lesson kiddos. i wonder if these kids realize how lucky they are haha #kindajealous
That's all well and fine and dandy for practicing, but what I've learned with Charlie is that the balance he holds on a shorter stride doesn't necessarily translate when I go to ride him on a true 12' stride. And.... our competition courses are all set on 12' strides sooooooo, we probably need to fix that haha.

Thus explaining why we've been doing so much work on making Charlie adjustable and rideable in a more forward and 'true' canter. And why, even tho this exercise kinda looks familiar to me, it rode quite a bit harder.

another day, another rain storm.... charlie makin new friends in a temporary paddock while waiting for the farrier!
Charlie, for his part, wanted to drift a little left. No doubt some symptom of codependent compensation between our mutual crookedness haha. Also possibly a way for him to add back in that extra distance to make the oxer easier on himself haha. So trainer K added some features to the exercise to help with that.

Actually it was mildly hilarious bc I saw her put the plank on the ground, but did *not* see her raise one end of the bounce pole. So when we got into the exercise we were both like, "OH!" and then had to scramble a little to keep moving down the line (Charlie legit stepped on the plank too, whoops!).

and, naturally, charlie not even bothering to wait for me to leave before getting himself all up close and personal with that wire fencing.... ugh
It worked out tho. We just kept cycling through off each lead, usually beginning each turn with some rideability exercises via transitions between walk-trot-canter to get Charlie up immediately in front of my leg.

It was hard tho, way more work through a grid than I expected lol. We were both huffing and puffing by the end. There were some really good efforts in there, tho. Trainer K is trying to help us find a different "sweet spot" for our takeoff distance, since I tend to want to get Charlie a little close. And this really seemed to help with that - esp as it relates to helping *me* get more comfortable with that distance .

We'll see tho. It seems like every winter we get back into "Grid Bootcamp" -- especially when we're confined to the tiny indoor. But with this crazy mild winter, the outdoor has stayed usable and so we've continued on coursework and whatnot. So it's kinda nice to practice grids again. Actually, if all goes to plan, we'll be doing some more gymnastics this weekend -- with Martin again!! So stay tuned for that.


  1. That looks like a deceptively tricky exercise.

    1. lol it was such a workout - i totally just assumed we were finished after what seemed like a "last" set of trips and started putting charlie's quarter sheet back on.... and trainer K was like, "not so fast! i'm not done with you yet!!" lol -- and that's when she put the V-poles up. it was good tho!

  2. This is similar, but more complex to what Trainer M had me working on with June. I totally agree this is a bit deceptive in its simplicity. It's amazing how hard something can be when it is out of the norm. I feel ya on that!

    1. totally agreed! it's easy to feel like these exercises have to be crazy complicated with a million elements to be effective.... but honestly sometimes simpler is better!

  3. I had to do an exercise like this a while ago with Banner and it's tough! I love your wording of "anti-grid grid" because it makes perfect sense to me. You can't just cruise down it like a typical grid but it also is still kind of set up for you? It gives me just enough time to do something stupid before the final jump haha

    1. lol EXACTLY. my trainer kept reminding me that we had to "work" for this one -- not just let it always be so easy for me or the horse

  4. Great that you are able to still ride outside - gives you so much more room for grids or anti-grid grids if you are feeling adventurous! lol Anti-grid grid does make sense, even for someone who doesn't jump. ;-)

    1. i basically avoid our indoor at home at all costs haha. like, sure, we're lucky to have one that exists. but.... it is really not a good arena lol, esp after some footing changes they made this year. outside is much better!

  5. glad you guys have been getting some good weather to be riding outside!

  6. Sounds like a really useful exercise!

  7. Fun! Was the grid set up down the center, so you can get it from both leads?

  8. I call it rider amnesia! When you fail to notice what said trainer is doing. I watched my instructor one day reconstruct a jump on a bend and didn't realize that she had set it higher and even more on an angle till i got to it and Remus and i both were like ummm.....rolling eyes. I think i am supposed to be the smart one of the pair right (Between me and Remus it may be a toss up)!!

    Glad you and Charlie are still getting it done, rain or not. SO TIRED OF is gross.

  9. That's a great exercise! It really sets you up properly, so if you just do what you're supposed to, everything should be fine! But then, horses. So it's like the lesson and the test all in one line.


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