Showing posts with label Lesson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lesson. Show all posts

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Head in The Game

No brain, no rider.

I had a really good lesson on Indy yesterday.

Miss Priss

Yes, I realize that opening line sounds like another boring dressage lesson recap of the basics covered when riding a green horse. Rhythm, connection, behavior, excercises ...blah, blah, blah. Bear with me because this isn't that type of recap and it wasn't THAT type of a good lesson. My horse wasn't perfect. It wasn't a repeat of our last lesson where little Miss Priss was so good from the very beginning that I spent the rest of the day in complete awe of her sudden awesomeness.

No, it definitely wasn't that type of a good lesson.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lessons Are The Best

I took my first lesson with J, my new trainer, today. It. Was. AWESOME!

*Sorry, no pics or video. I'll try to fill the void with random pictures of Indy and Winn.

Okay, so Indy's four and still very, very green. A detailed recap of the lesson would probably bore most of you, even the most devout dressage riders, to tears. I'll try to keep it short. You're welcome.

Indy was SOOOOOOOOO good! She went into the arena and was pretty relaxed from the second I got on her (BTW, I even climbed on from the mounting block that the little heathen was striking at just two days ago). We walked on a loose rein and Indy was stretching down into a very relaxed/swinging walk. It usually takes quite a bit of work to get her to that point, so I was obviously ecstatic to start out like that.

J came in and she asked me to warm up how I normally would. Confession of the day: we don't really have much of a warm up routine. A large part of our rides has been just doing whatever the hell I needed to get Indy to the point she that she was starting out at today. So I kind of just kept that idea of doing what I felt she needed at the moment to be prepared for what we would do next. Not much of a warm up routine huh? J seemed okay with it, so I guess it's alright.

Okay, so I promised to keep this short.

What we need to work on:

1. Keeping a steady connection on the outside rein to support her outside shoulder and turn her shoulders.

2. Turning the shoulders so that the hind end is following the path of her shoulders.

3. Serpentines-keeping her through during the change of bend.

4. Keeping Indy straight and through across the diagonal, using my legs and an even connection. This is hard/good for me as I am still sitting crooked in the saddle

5. Use circles to get her relaxed, focused, and through. Move the circles to different parts of the arena, but use them as a form of a comfortable place when Indy needs it.

6. Make sure that I let the connection become elastic when Indy is going correctly.

Hopefully, I didn't forget anything....

I know this is all basic stuff, but sometimes the basics are damn hard on a greenie. Everything J told me made perfect sense. I completely understood what she was saying and what we were aiming for.

What we did well:

1. Indy was relaxed and very focused for her (about 85% compared to her usual 50-60% of the ride).

2. Indy started off wanting to be a little quick, but I corrected her and J said I did a good job of getting her into a good tempo. *JL had me really work on this in Hellbuquerque and I think he'd be happy that we did this well :)

3. There were moments where Indy was really using herself well and they were happening a lot more and a lot longer than normal. J even said there were times that the work was show quality. Obviously, we're a long ways from showing, but it was still nice to hear.

4. Even when Indy was distracted, she wasn't reactive. A pickup and horse trailer even drove right next to the arena, behind us, and Indy didn't care at all. A month ago that would have been enough to cause a meltdown.

5. I made good and smart corrections and didn't get frustrated.

6. I felt a lot more in tune with Indy and she wasn't hardly resistant at all today.

Thoughts on the new trainer:

I'm really excited to ride with J more! She is patient and understanding, only asking us to do what we were capable of. She tells you what to fix, but is very good about pointing out the positives. I felt very comfortable riding with J and already have full trust in her expertise. I really liked that she didn't have that "Well your horse is this age, so it should be at this level." mentality. 

Other than Indy being so good, one of the best parts of my lesson was when J told me that I've done a good job with Indy. Even writing this now, it still makes me so happy that I could about cry.  I got on today feeling like I had been a failure with my horse and got off feeling like maybe I hadn't done such a horrible job with her training after all. Today felt like we were working on what we needed to get better instead of having to go back and fix all of my mistakes, which I was honestly kind of anticipating. It's always nice to know that you haven't screwed your horse up.

I'm seriously proud of my girl! She was lovely to ride! We even went for a short walk outside of the arena on a loose rein and Indy was perfectly relaxed and calm. I've never really been able to trust her enough to ride her out of the confines of the arena before because she doesn't handle changes of scenery very well. I'm hoping that we can start going for rides on the track that goes through the cross country course soon. It would be so good for Indy. I thought about it today, but L (the BEST) was waiting on me to do thermal, laser therapy, and adjustments on Winn and Indy and it would have been kind of rude to make her wait longer. Plus, Indy was so good that she deserved to be done for the day. One step at a time.

More on the thermal, laser, and adjustments tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Improving Indy

*I didn't have anyone around to take pictures of my lesson, so you get pics of JL riding her. Of course no one was there to document it when she is going better than she ever has. You'll just have to trust me ;)

I mentioned about having JL get on Indy last week. In short, the ride started off pretty rocky. Indy was resistant and I watched, slightly humiliated, by how big of a witch she can be when she wants to. That's what trainer rides are there for though. JL patiently kept asking her and disciplined her when she needed it. He was insistent and he kept with her until she gave it up and expected her to go correctly, not just tolerating getting her around there (like I have a tendency to do). The corrections came from him doing what he needed to get her stepping underneath herself with impulsion in the hind end. Watching JL's responses to all of her antics gave me a lot of tools to use and a better idea of what I should be expecting from her. By the end of the ride she was beginning to understand, gave up fighting, and started to go really well!

    You can see that she wasn't quite where we wanted in the pictures, but she is starting to get there.

He has me putting draw reins on her, which I am not normally a big fan of. However, I trust him and we aren't using them to force the frame. They are there for those moments when she does grab the bit and pulls up while blindly drifting in the opposite direction that you want with her nose pointed to the sky or starts flipping her head, or does anything else to cause me to lose control. They're a back up when nothing else is working and I think I might die.

After JL rode her, I had two good rides on Indy in a row. Yeah, that's never happened before and I always dreaded riding her after the "good one". The first one she tried me, but I did what JL did with her and she gave up the fight pretty quickly. The second ride, there was even less resistance. We were actually working together and she was trying harder to understand what I wanted rather than spending all of her effort trying to avoid what I was asking (she definitely gets the fight from her dam, Winnetou's goal in life was to please his rider). I figured I better take a lesson on her while things were good.

I didn't lunge her. After his ride on her, JL said that my time would be better spent doing the ground excercises that he showed me with her. Fine with me, I absolutely hate lunging even if it does have it's uses. I did the ground work and got on. Indy walked off immediately and on the bit when I asked her to. Considering that she used to walk off half-assed in every direction but forward, this is a big deal. I won't go into every detail of the lesson, but here is what we focused on:

1. Creating impulsion in the hind end with my leg while keeping a good rhythm rather than me using it to send her running forward on her forehand. 

2. Bending around my inside leg and getting her to step under more with her inside hind.

3. Keeping her in a slight shoulder-fore for straightness.

4. Not letting my hands move and asking more with my leg when she gets fussy and resistant.

5. Keeping her stepping under herself and not coming above the bit in the halt.

6. Leg yielding back and forth between the quarter line and the rail.

7. Leg yielding from a 15-20 meter circle.

8. Slight lengthenings in the trot, focusing on keeping the rhythm while lengthening and coming back(Indy actually does this better than Beefheart).

9. JL and I also talked about knowing how far to push and when to stop so that she doesn't get sour. This shouldn't be a problem since I'm more likely to not push enough.

JL said that Indy is becoming much more balanced (we actually did some pretty good serpentines where she didn't fall out or start fussing when I changed the bend) and that he liked that she showed more suspension when we asked for the trot lengthenings. He seemed pleased with her and I was ecstatic! I finally feel like we are getting somewhere instead of just getting around. I'm spending more time worrying about the actual training than wondering if today will be the day that she kills me. Finally, a relationship is building and we are starting to trust each other. Indy is starting to focus more, not gawking at everything in sight (she still looks some, but is a lot less reactive). The improvement in the last week alone has been pretty remarkable! I am truly beginning to enjoy riding her!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

FINALLY! A lesson!

*huge sigh of contentment and relief*

So after whining about trying to find a trainer at my constantly changing areas of residence, I decided I just needed to grow a pair (not literally of course) and make a serious effort to find a trainer. I was fortunate in that a friend from home, that rides dressage, had moved to the area and gave me a recommendation. I called 'A', the trainer, and set up a lesson. Hoping to get one within two or three days of calling, I was a little surprised when she couldn't fit me in until six days later. This was perfectly fine, I am just going to have to be a little more organized when planning my lessons. Me trying to have an organized schedule....that's a new concept.

Finally finished pulling his mane. He wasn't nearly as happy about it as I was.

I was totally on schedule to get to my lesson on time. I had everything packed and ready, Beefs was groomed and good to load, and then security decided to be a pain in the ass. Before I go on, I should mention that Beefs absolutely hates the trailer. He loads pretty well usually, but not because he wants to. He doesn't throw too much of a fit when we're moving. It's another story when we're not. When we stopped at security, they wanted to check his tattoo (apparently it is a new policy). Fiancé told them he is a saddle/pony horse, not a racehorse. They insisted on seeing it. Beefs insisted on not showing them and threatened to completely freak out if the issue was pushed any further. Fiancé tells security it isn't happening. Security tells the fiancé that they won't make him unload Beefs to check the tattoo THIS time. My ass, we're going to unload him so they can check his tattoo! The horse was already pissed and if we had to unload him, he would have flown out of the trailer at a hundred miles an hour onto the gravel and then completely lost it. On top of that, I would probably have ended up getting fined for loosing it on security. I'm pretty laid back, but don't screw with my horses' well being.

Anyway, we got to the facility about five minutes before my lesson. We unloaded Beefs, who had fortunately calmed down, and I speed tacked and wrapped him. Um, hello new trainer. My name is Jodi and apparently I'm the inconsiderate jack ass that shows up late to put you behind schedule. Nice to meet you...

Love my boy

'A' was really tolerant of my tardiness. I got on and we started the lesson. Beefs was a little tense at first. He didn't like all of the commotion outside the ends of the arena (this is a super busy place). Even so, he didn't do anything bad and relaxed a lot quicker than I expected he would. He had a couple of very small spooks. The only thing that came close to setting him off was when the lady in the outdoor arena started chasing horses around with the lunge whip. It's a good thing I took Beefs, because if I'd been on Indy, I'd probably be in the hospital right now.


So, instead of going into every boring dressage detail, I'll say that it was a really good lesson. 'A' has a lot of experience with OTTBs. She gets how different they can be from warmbloods. She noticed the very slight stiffness in Beefs right hind and gave me excercises to help loosen and strengthen him. 'A' is more of a fix them through finesse than muscle them type and didn't try to make me do anything through force. She recognized his work ethic, that he is really trying to understand what we want from him and encouraged lots of rewarding. She noticed the problem with my left leg, which still isn't listening to me no matter how much I tell it to work.  I really liked her and am looking forward to my next lesson.

Such a good guy!

Starting to get better

He tries so hard to please :)

1. Riding squares at the walk with turns on the forehand to get Beefs crossing better and more manuverable in the hind end.

2. Trotting squares, lengthening going straight and collecting before the corners to get him sitting more.

3. Spiraling in and out on the circle to get him bending and stretching through the outside of his body better.

4. Keep working on getting him to reach down and forward to the bit.

5. Keeping my left leg working.*sigh

6. Make sure that I don't break in my right wrist. Yeah, that's a new habit I recently picked up. Figures. 

7. Lots of shoulder fore.