diaryofarider: (Default)
Really good lesson today - points to think about were 1. keeping the shoulders straight and the neck between the reins- basically, no bulging. Think about the line I want to ride and keep the shoulders on it (one on each side of my line). 2. Rolling canter.
We had a challenging but fun exercise- example- tracking right, start going across the diagonal, but at X, circle left 10 meters, and then, instead of continuing on the diagonal, head to the opposite corner (so that your figure would sort of look like a V with a circle at the point of the V) and keep tracking right. Letter-wise it goes K to X, circle at X, X to H. That way you get right bend through the corner and off the track to the diagonal, left bend for the circle, then right bend back onto the track and through the corner. Then to make it more bendalicious, we did circle right 10m in the corner, then start across the diagonal, circle left 10 m, on to opposite corner, circle right 10m. Then, to add the final twist, after that we did canter, circle right 20 m, then back to trot, and repeat the whole sequence in the next corner.
Red mare was pretty awesome at this- she was really interested in it but not stressed (attention without tension!). It gave us some awesome balance and evenness- she was balanced laterally and longitudinally. We also did some nice downwards, where we rode into the trot, instead of just breaking from the canter.
After that I did some so-so lateral work- she was good, I was a little stuck someplace so that it wasn't quite where it could have been. Cantered right- not bad, though not as quality as while we were doing all the circles. Canter left- very good, she gave me her back and was soft, unhurried, and quiet. Right again- and trainer calls out "Think of a rolling canter" and something clicked and we had a rolling canter. It was pretty big, and a little fast, but very very good quality- it started at her hind legs, rolled up over a raised back, through her body, and cycled right back through to start again.
diaryofarider: (Default)
Good ride again last night- rode inside since it's been raining and it was kind of chilly- 58 degrees. Wish I could have several days of 70 degrees, I'm not ready for chilly yet.
Trudi was good right away, again at the walk did bending all sorts of ways, S/I, counter S/I, travers and renvers (ish), interspersed with stretches of just trying to be straight. Then for a twist we did the same thing at the trot, and the stuff with the haunches is generally harder, as is getting bend in her body when moving the haunches. She is at least willing to move her butt over a little, but she can't seem to really relax enough in her body to bend while doing it. I think it will come eventually though as we get more comfortable.
Canter was not super, but not terrible. I think there were 2 things going on- 1. she was a bit tired because the walk/trot work was actually pretty tough and 2. I wasn't being as vigilant as I needed to about keeping her back up and keeping her through in the trot prior to the canter, or, I realized, in the canter.
It's funny how you can miss the forest for the trees- I have been spending all this time working on working her with her back up, thinking how I wanted her back to get stronger so that she can move that way all the time, and I sort of forgot WHY I wanted her to be able to work with her back up. It's to improve the gait, and that is for a lot of reasons- yes, it looks nice, but it also makes it easier to RIDE. It makes the horse sittable, transitions easier and improves the balance- it makes the horse overall more rideable. Durrr.....
So it became apparent I need to school more sitting trot and insist on her back being up and the throughness- if she can do 20 - 30 min with her back up and through at walk and posting trot I think she can handle some sitting- she's not a baby and I just haven't really focused on it. I let "somewhat relaxed, slow, and not hollow" be enough, and it's not anymore.
So I flubbed the last canter transition and it wasn't crisp because I didn't prepare it and didn't cue it cleanly, but I had gotten her back up and the trot through, so the canter (to the right, our hard way) was slower, and more balanced, and more rideable and adjustable. And I screwed up the downward too (ha, my focus is apparently limited and I am unable to keep other things in my head) but still her back was up and she was through at the trot. So good on her, and hope for both of us.
diaryofarider: (Default)
Worked hard tonight. Pony was good- still rather subdued, I'm sure because of the work yesterday. Walk work was very good- she was asking to stretch early on after doing some nice bending and the leg yields were unhurried- she didn't try to get quick at all.
At the trot, she was stiffer than I would have suspected- I think a lot of it was just feeling a little tired. We started out left for a change- my easy way, her hard way- and I had to keep asking, keep pushing, keep bending- hard work, especially to keep my legs under me and my shoulders back and sitting down on her butt to lower her croup. I did remember when she got quick and came up to shorten my rein to keep the contact and not bring my hands in my lap, and to not get frustrated or worried. Instead, check that I am "sitting heavy", keep my leg under me and my shoulders back, and those lower legs need to be on the horse. And release the outside rein, and give a pat when she is good, and ask again, and don't let her lean, and don't lean forward, don't collapse, don't worry, just wait...
Eventually the trot got very good- managed to "slip in and out of a half halt" - push a bit into the half halt, give, ask for a bit more forward, get it, push a bit more into another half halt, give- it's really neat.
We switched and went right, which is definitely harder for me- I much prefer "getting it out of the way" first. :)
But we got through it ok. Just feels really wierd and hard for me at first when we are warming up, especially when she velcros herself to the wall and almost takes out my left leg. :P
She wanted to do a slow trot right from the start, so the transition was lovely, but I had to work for a more active trot so that she was still forward and through. I was kind of twisted and didn't get the nice gliding half halts, but the trot was still good.
Did a walk break and sitting trot, and good transition, and good sitting for me. I discovered I can push my butt down to keep contact with her hindquarters and THEN give leg to get the hind leg more active, which is MUCH more comfortable than giving leg first and trying to sit later. Giving leg first gives more activity but also more rough bouncing because the hocks are not flexing as much. Sitting trotters, you can thank me with cash donations. ;) Canter transition was very soft and nice, canter not bad, still too quick and a little wild, but she came back for the last couple of strides and did a super downward transition right into the trot I wanted- yesssss.
Pony was tired at this point but I wanted to do a little left canter- so we walked a bit, then sitting trot, and to the left it seems harder for me to push my legs down and under me. Not sure if it is because of the way she travels that direction or because I was tired. Anyway. NOTE TO SELF- DO NOT LIFT ASS OUT OF SADDLE TO TRY TO BRING YOUR LEGS BACK. THANK YOU. You can bring your legs back with your butt in the saddle, in fact, you NEED to do this. End Note.
Left canter transition was ok- left canter was too quick but... circled, felt her get crooked, still sat heavy, still kept legs on, asked her to bend and thus straighten (Yes, we remember 2 lessons ago, shoulders in, haunches out) and hallelujah, the canter got better. And then I asked a bit and it got slower. And more balanced. And I said alrighty, good job- and we did a trot transition and did NOT get crooked, and then stretchy posting trot, which was good, but I let it fizzle out. Still, gave pats, then asked for a bit more stretchy trot, and walked when I actually asked for it- and done. Carrots and praise.
Pony was not the only tired one- as we were doing sitting trot to the left, some muscle deep in my left butt cheek started knotting and maybe spasming a bit. Not unbearable pain, but odd and uncomfortable. This whole rider as athlete thing is just wacky. Like Trudi is a total body gym or something.

Also, to put icing on the cake- I was walking to my car when Trudi, surely with visions of still MORE carrots dancing in her head, stood at the gate with her silly white blaze face, and big pricked ears, and whickered to me.
Of course I had to walk over and give her a handful of hay (since I was out of carrots).

She'll probably be a demon on Tuesday. :)
diaryofarider: (Default)
Lesson yesterday- my back was a little sore but not too bad. I was kind of a wuss about getting tired though. We worked on shoulder-in and haunches-in in trot, and trainer really got after me to keep the bend no matter what, and to half halt with my tummy (ack, so hard, but when it works, SO COOL). We talked about when I'm having trouble getting the bend and what to do about it- order of operations was basically inside leg first to insist on the bend, being quicker and more attentive with the outside rein to catch the shoulder, and then the outside leg to engage the outside hind. I asked about rein length as I have been worried about her getting too short in the neck, but if my reins are too long she just gets too off track and it takes a long time to fix it. Trainer said it's ok to shorten them some so long as I am really vigilant about the leg and allowing her to stretch whenever possible.
In the lateral work Trudi was generally honest but still resistant now and then- sometimes getting quick, lurching forward (this is the time when I have to pull my bellybutton in...ayeeeeee) or stopping. To the right, shoulder-in was more of a struggle than usual- trainer had us do haunches in and she amazed me by doing some really super haunches in. Back to shoulder-in and it was easier. Crazy. To the left, haunches-in was nowhere to be found, but the shoulder-in was good. Again, the new problem of a floating LEFT seatbone appeared, which again, is totally the same but opposite problem as before, but it's good to know, even if it is not fun to fix. Must learn to pay attention to BOTH seatbones now.
Overall I think Trudi was much better in her back and during the attempts to do haunches in on the left she really took the bit in a way she almost never does. I think she was struggling enough that she was looking for support, or maybe she was just really through. In any case, it was a nice change. It was espeically nice that she did not start out stiff on this ride, or at least not nearly as stiff as she has been starting out. Spooks were ignored for the most part, although the snow melting outside the ring caused a puddle to form at the far end. The puddle kept growing each time we made a circuit, till it extended halfway down the center line. So we went from shying around it to eventually forcing her to go through it, which was pretty entertaining (and challenging). The first time she was trotting along, she paused, and then did like one step of piaffe, and then trotted on. It wasn't even a halt, just this like exaggerated pause- so bizarre. The next time around, she jumped it and covered about 4 feet with her leap. It was a very nice jump but I wasn't really ready for it, so it was old-fashioned hunter-print style on my part. As we were cooling out, we finally walked up to it, and she stopped, and snorted at it, tentatively put out a foot, pulled it back, snorted some more, and finally just walked through it. Good job, silly pony.
diaryofarider: (Default)
So I got on last night, and Trudi was like "OMG, the tackroom light is on! Dude, there is snow on the ground outside over there! There are sacks of feed in the aisle!!!". I was like "Uh-huh, we are working now." I got very focused and sat well, and Trudi put on her thinking cap and really went to work very well. And then I noticed that she didn't feel quite right. To the right - mostly ok- to the left- something odd. Canter made it really obvious- canter to the right was fine, but to the left something very wonky. I cooled her out and the walk was fine, totally ok both directions. I got off and had her trot, and watched from the ground. Something is wrong- I can't completely say for sure but I think her right hind is sore. I think it is from her clipping a bench (they use it for a mounting block) when I turned her out the other night- it was too cold to ride so I had turned her loose in the indoor and sent her around. She clipped the bench and I thought she was ok, but she was definitely off last night. No marks, bumps, heat or swelling that I could find though, so I'm not sure where the problem is. *Sigh*. It so figures. I feel like we're really getting it, and then my horse is like "Btw I am lame." So we'll give it a few days and see. Now I have to figure out if I should call now to cancel the saddle fitting I have scheduled for Saturday, or if I should wait and check her tonight. My guess is that she will be still gimpy tonight but ok this weekend, but if I'm wrong they'll charge me anyway for not canceling soon enough. Damnit, I don't want to have to reschedule...also I want my horsie to be sound...*wanders off grumbling*.

ETA- in spite of the crappy lame thing, I managed to have a couple of lightbulb moments.
1. When I don't keep my upper body upright (aka relax too much or get tired and slouch) my pelvis and hips rotate and my seat bones no longer press down into the saddle/horse, and that means I no longer have seat aids. Very bad. It was very important for me to become aware of this though, especially since I'm learning to use my seat more and trying to sit more centered.
2. The long neck. I finally felt the real difference in how a step can travel through the body, along the back, and to the neck, in its entirity and in real time, in a way that felt much more complete and comprehensive than it ever has before. I finally felt what happens when she takes a short step behind and hollows her back and raises her head, as a complete sequence, and it made total sense. I have always heard of the neck as a balancing rod, but last night I finally felt immediately how she looses her balance as soon as a foot doesn't step through, and how she throws her neck and head up to compensate (which throws me backward and causes me to use the reins for some support, and brings my hands back into my lap). This is where trainer telling me "ride with your hands right over her withers" clicks into place as making complete sense. I had found conciously pushing my hands forward would help stretch her back down and forward toward the bit when she would get hollow and quick, but I also started feeling how at almost the same time, I can also push the hind leg forward and generate more energy to send through her body so that she's not just stretching her neck and rebalancing (which actually does help some just on its own- lowering and stretching her neck does seem to give her better balance and does not PREVENT her from stepping through- it also changes MY balance when I sit up and push my hands forward so that I'm not staying too far behind the motion), but pushing the hind leg and fixing my balance and giving her a place to go forward and down to the bit is THE WHOLE PACKAGE and fixes everything in one shot instead of several strides.
Which isn't to say that this is easy and that I can catch the issue, immediately, and fix it perfectly every time, but it was very important to feel it, understand it, and correct it even once (and I think I managed a couple times at least. ^_^).
diaryofarider: (Default)
So we rode outside this weekend and I totally sunburned the side of my neck. It was sunny and warm and really beautiful. The work was really hard- I set up our cone arena and we did lots of "OMG we're outside hurry be crooked losing my balance what do you mean rhythm." It was really challenging- Trudi wasn't bad but she wasn't herself. Forward, through, stretching, rhythmic and relaxed were simply all missing at some point to one degree or another. We did lots of hollow-backed trotting, stiff, uneven, and either plodding or rushing, and dang me for allowing it for the canter transitions, which of course were mediocre, and the canter which was much more unbalanced than it's been, though not completely insane- and considering this is still a very new thing in the outdoor I'm not going to fret a lot- but I am going to get our butts back into shape in the evenings when we have to ride inside. I fought with my body, and Trudi was all hyped up about the canter "We cantered wanna canter now? We're cantering now right? Well I think we're cantering now...". We did get to a point each day where she was focusing more on me than on the surroundings, and I focused more on working than on being nervous, so that was good. Even though it's much harder for her to balance and relax outside, this is really crucial milage and it's really nice to have a very long side to learn to deal with, not to mention a side with no wall. On Saturday I really worked my legs, and kinda went "Hell yeah" when my muscles started burning and just pushed harder.
On Sunday I thought Trudi might be a screwball because it was kind of cool and breezy, but in spite of her snorting and pricked ears she wasn't spooky or too hot. We still struggled with hollow/rushing/unrhythmic/crooked. I tried bringing her shoulders in, tried bending her around my inside leg, tried tapping her hindquarters with the whip. It all worked, kind of, but I finally realized that she kept getting crooked because we weren't forward, and straight without forward is pretty difficult. So I decided we were going to go forward, and we were going to trot, and I was going to sit, and by God I was going to ride straight to that point in the distance. So we walked and trotted forward and got straighter, and I stopped trying so hard with everything else and let my seat and my back work on steering. I thought about how I wanted every step to be looooonger, and to reach farthur forward, and that helped a TON at the walk, and when we trotted I bounced and BOUNCED and Trudi stayed hollow, and so I jammed my butt down in the saddle and went "Screw it anyway, I am sitting this trot, give me your BACK" and Trudi went "FINE" and suddenly,
Medium Trot.
Unexpected progress, but I'll take it.
Man, I hope we can do it again sometime. It was frigging AWESOME. ^_^


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