Tuesday, March 16, 2021

in which we trot circles -- with PICTURES!

Naturally it figures that the little dressage schooling show we planned to enter was postponed to the weekend right after Charlie's latest round of joint injections. We proooobably could have gotten away with doing a test while still considering it "light work"... But, eh, nah. 

my handsome overgrown pony <3
I opted to just do a super simple flat ride, putting Charlie through his paces just to see how he's feeling. In a way it was kinda nice bc he could see the field full of parked trailers for the show --- plus obvi we were sharing our normal home court with riders warming up for their tests. 

just doin his charlie thing in the middle of warm-up ring chaos lol
So Charlie had the sense of heightened atmosphere. But.... Still only just had a lowkey ride for himself. 

Another benefit from being show-adjacent was all our barn friends milling around after their own tests. Meaning --- one friend was right there on hand to grab a couple minutes of footage of the end of our ride (video link here and below).

yep, that's a charlie canter!
I haven't seen video of me trying to ride this horse on the flat since August 2020.... Which, lol, is kiiiinda a long time. Plenty long enough to worry that what you feel may not match what you think it looks like, ya know? 

feeling a little less clingy with my legs
We also haven't really had a proper dressage lesson in.... Hm. Wow. Our last Fix-a-Test clinic in March of 2020, right before shut down? Again, plenty of time to let all those bad habits and sloppy styles regain the upper hand....

it's nice to see that charlie can be so beautiful even when i ride the way i do LOL
So. Yes. Video is super helpful lol. 

Y'all have also heard me drone on and on about "kinda giving up on dressage." Which, is really just shorthand for kinda leaving my horse the F alone while I try to work on myself. 

four off the floor! also, what even is a right seat bone?!
This whole past winter, I've barely ridden the horse in a proper bridle at all -- virtually all of our rides have been in the hackamore with no contact. I just ask Charlie to keep moving forward in his gaits in balance and rhythm, and otherwise let him do as he will. 

why do we always look like we're about to topple over?! lol
And for my part, this has meant diverting all my energy into how I'm riding. Specifically: I've tried really had to take my legs *OFF* the horse: no more nudging, nagging, clinging, curling... Just longer looser legs with heel (more or less) down. 

i don't always sit up, but when i do, my hands flee the scene
Basically, I'm trying to get my leg off so I stop blocking Charlie's efforts to come forward from his hind end. And? I think he likes it lol. Plus, this may or may not be the first winter where I have not rubbed little spots onto his ribcage from my nudging lol.

good boy charlie <3
In tandem with releasing the death grip of my legs around Charlie's sides -- I've been trying to realign how I actually sit on him. Less perching, more full seat. But like, not driving seat. Balanced, soft, but still seated. 

i know virtually all of these pictures look the same, but this type of media is so rare for us obvi gotta grab as much as i can!
This is where it kinda gets complicated for me, tho, bc.... Well. I'm not one of those naturally gifted riders who have nice independent body parts. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time, I can't pat my head and rub circles on my belly simultaneously. 

more tipping over lol
So when I start trying to change one body part, another body part flies out of whack. Generally --- it's whatever comes next up or down my spinal column. So if I change the orientation of my pelvis or how I'm sitting, it's like my shoulders straight up don't know how to cope and my arms go haywire LOL.

pictured: what it looks like to ride an actual literal freight train
Not coincidentally --- My arms are also an area requiring a not insignificant amount of my attention. The resistance band lessons we did last summer were very helpful in giving me a good feeling with how to hang my arms from my shoulders. But. Somehow, when I focus heavily on my arm and hand position, I end up perching in my seat again.

that's better, sir!! <3
And of course... All of that is completely independent of whatever Charlie might be doing. One benefit of the hackamore is that I don't really need to think about what he's doing. Esp if he tries to brace or pull against me, or go running off on his forehand into the sunset ---- Well, the hackamore provides excellent brakes that Charlie simply just accepts. 

He doesn't pull or fuss against the hackamore. He just... Slows down. It's nice, I like it LOL.

already so bored of trotting circles lol
Not so, in the snaffle, tho. Sir will just dive down into the bridle and tonka truck his way around. Which, naturally, I take the bait every single time and let him pull me right out of that position I'd been trying to fix. 

who knows, maybe 2021 will be the year we get back into dressage lessons? 
So it's nice to see this whole dynamic play out in video. It's especially useful to see whether the areas I feel are better are actually better. 

Like.... Have you ever ridden around knowing you're being recorded, feeling like you're sitting up like an actual queen? But then looked at the footage only to realize you're still all crumpled and slumped?? Don't tell me I'm the only one haha....
 

Honestly, tho, I admit to being a bit relieved to see that things kinda look more or less like I expected in the video. No, none of my bad habits magically resolved themselves. I still kinda ride the way I've always ridden lol... But a couple areas do look a little better, at least to me. 

I still don't feel particularly inspired in the realm of dressage, and it's never going to be Charlie's favorite task either. But, eh, who knows, maybe we'll start taking a lesson here or there again after all? 



26 comments:

  1. Have 100% felt like I am sitting up and dressaging so well, only to look at pictures and realize I am still perched. Then I wonder in horror what I would have looked like before I felt like I was sitting back.

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    1. lol right??? i'm pretty sure most of the time i just sit up there like a friggin potato, if we're being honest haha....

      also -- just clicked through and found your blog, excited to follow along!

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    2. Thanks! Hopefully someday it will involve some riding. I'll share my own potato pictures!

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    3. excellent!! fingers crossed ;)

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  2. Hang on hang on, are all of the trees behind you evergreens? Because I'm really confused how that can be MARCH over there lol.

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    1. lol yes --- the driveway is lined with these big gigantic evergreen trees with shaggy bark, idk what they are. but yea, i kinda had the same moment of 'wtf?' when reviewing the pictures haha

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  3. I can't believe you could ride in tee shirt and today it was 20 when I rode Pammon. March is so fickle...
    But yay for new media! I think you and Charlie are looking great!

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    1. fickle march is right... we were literally in the 70s for a couple days, and now it's rainy in the 40s....

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  4. T shirt weather! Videos are awesome for picking yourself apart. You both look great!

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    1. omgosh it was soooooo nice this weekend!! and yea, i love being able to pore over video to connect a feeling to its appearance lol

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  5. I feel like my head is on my horse's rump when I'm "sitting up" only to see media and, nope! Definitely still out here slouching!

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    1. i am 100% with you there, that's for sure. i feel like it's harder for me bc i'm already kinda top heavy on a proportionally short torso, so it's like even the least little bit of slouch is super super obvious bleh

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  6. I, er, may also be guilty of a certain amount of hair wear-n-tear where my heel might nudge the horse. I've been working on it and it IS better this year, but only because the worn-hair spots are so embarrassing. *sigh* Also, what with our snow cover this winter, my horse is dad bod and seriously unfit so we are doing very careful re-fitting now that the snow has melted. Marching walk with small trot/jog sets. It's thrilling.

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    1. lol the little heel-worn spots are like a badge of dishonor.... i totally get why all those pro riders leave little squares of hair on their clipped horses!

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  7. I think you are too hard on yourself!!
    There will always be "bad habits" and things to work on but you guys are looking really great!

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    1. lol it's so hard to convey tone in written words, but this is a happy post haha. i LOVE getting new media of ourselves bc i LOVE poring over it to connect what i feel in the saddle with what it looks like from the ground. sometimes that means identifying mistakes i'm making that i don't feel, or identifying things i feel that do or don't 'look' the way i expect. overall, it's a very useful exercise!!

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  8. I can't even take a bath and chew gum at the same time, so 100% feel you about the struggle for independent body parts lol

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  9. I struggle with separation of body parts. It’s like a bunch of evil minions taking advantage when my mind is elsewhere. That said I’ve notice a difference since I started with the yoga. I think you both look happy together.

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    1. Thanks!! And yea the physical side of things is a big part of my problem. I legit feel like I’m calcifying into a rigid position at this point LOL

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  10. I'm always SUPER surprised by how different videos of me flatting looks from what I'm feeling (never in a good way either).

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    1. Ugh right???? Luckily I’ve seen a lot of video generally so feel ok-ish about connecting a look with a feel... but it’s never quite perfect

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  11. As a mid-level dressage rider/coach - I have never seen you two looking so great on the flat!!

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