Friday, November 12, 2010

Horse Camp, report

Horse camp was wonderful, from the food to the facilities to the camaraderie to the instruction to the riding. If I had a complaint it would only be that it wasn't intensive enough, and that is simply because I am capable of more intensity than most of the world. Other people were already overwhelmed while I was still at "bring it on!" And I would gladly "camp" for nine months, or a weekend every month, or all I possibly could.

We started with a wine and cheese party and introduction to what would be happening. The text was The Simplicity of Dressage which has beautiful photos and some interesting text that I've skimmed but not actually read yet. Andre also provided a notebook with more articles, and he lectured and I took copious notes. We rode twice a day but for only 45 minutes each time, in groups of four (or sometimes five). When we weren't on or tacking or cooling out, we were observing. And the auditors obviously observed all the time. Anyone watching at any time heard a lot more from Andre than anyone on a horse did. We started each day with breakfast and a lecture, then a ride, then lunch and a lecture, then a ride, then supper then more lecture which was usually mostly observing and commenting on videos which this year were mostly from WEG.

So that's the overview. Blow by blow? I don't have much from the first night except riding group assignments. I'm pretty impatient with slow lectures and won't write what I don't find useful so it is hard telling what else went on then. Friday morning we started by going over the bottom three elements of the training scale. Now, an interesting thing about the training scale to me is that either it wasn't yet developed 30 years ago, or MM didn't go over it with us 30 years ago (and most of our riding education was on board horses, not in a classroom), or MM did go over it and I in my immaturity totally spaced out on it. I don't know. But perspective on and intellectual understanding of the training scale is something I've been hungry for more of. So, rhythm, relaxation and connection. I've got lots of good notes on these, things to think about and try to apply.

The second part of the morning's lecture was on position. Without hesitation Andre said that position is the most important aid. Which I agree with (even as I struggle with position) but I find in taking and observing Andre lessons, he rarely comments at all on position.

In the first lesson he asked us to develop the habit of using the long walk warming up to ride with stirrups dropped and to concentrate here on our positions (with the hope that this will carry over to other work I assume). Sit on the triangle of the pelvis, rotate legs inward, unclench buttocks, let thigh hang down with lower leg bending back from there. And then we looked at and worked on rhythm, relaxation and connection. It was in this session that I got highest praise and I record it so I will remember it: In individual canter work, Rol did her usual "exuberant" canter take-off and on second stride, when I had confirmed her going forward, I loosed my inside rein and Andre said, "That was exactly the right thing to do." (I find it interesting that I'm always more relaxed and willing to ride my own ride with Andre than with Lisa but I hope that I'm getting better even at that)

All afternoon work focused on quadrille, the "specialty" of this camp. I happen to agree with Andre that quadrille work is exceedingly valuable for horse and rider, having done a good bit of this sort of work at MM (we rode in a LOT of single file for dressage days, especially when Kay taught all the English sections which combined us all into one arena). So we had the lectures about what riders have to accomplish in quadrille work, and went over the various maneuvers. Then we went out and performed them on horseback. For the afternoon we were in different groups supposedly geographically related. This put horses of vastly different levels and qualities together, which was great! Well, you might really want to avoid that in a quadrille but if you really want to learn to ride it, dealing with all the difficulties magnified is a great way to learn it! I wanted to push the closeness and the speed but this was the part of the experience where I was more intense than another group member and it was waaay less than pleasant for me, so much so that I will avoid more group work unless I'm sure each member has the same commitment to it.

Saturday morning's lecture continued our training scale discussions -- impulsion, straightness, and collection, obviously more advanced and building upon the previous elements. Also, no matter the level, one does begin to introduce these things -- the idea of collection, correction of the crookedness that is (because we are all crooked horse and rider alike) -- and so we went out and began playing with these ideas with the horses.

In the afternoon we went over a few more quadrille figures, and received our assignment to create a quadrille to ride on Sunday morning. The rest of the lecture was taken up with discussion of warming up, particularly at shows, and how to do it effectively. I think that the focus on effectiveness is one of the things I like a lot about riding -- correct is always effective, incorrect is always less effective: It isn't right or wrong in the traditional sense. It reminds me of Jamie's saying -- choose your method, choose your results.

Sunday we performed our quadrilles -- and they all came off! It was great. There will be video somewhere, eventually. After the three teams performed their quadrilles, all twelve horses got into the dressage arena and did figures as they were called. It was something! Totally awesome.

The setting for this camp is a humongous girls camp, and we stay in the nurses quarters. With heat, kitchen and unlimited hot water, it is in no way roughing it. It is, however, camp-like. The beds are a fairly thin and narrow mattress on a board. I am not a naturally very social person although I do know how to pretend to be one but certain behaviors did try my patience. Can you imagine what it would have been like without the hot water?

Breakfast and lunch were provided. We went out to dinner en mass at night (except the first night when we had wine and cheese and actually quite the spread of hor'dourves courtesy of Mrs. Andre). There was plenty of coffee and tea. Everyone got up in the mornings and went to the barn by about 7 and fed, watered, cleaned stalls, did some initial grooming, etc. I thought that was a wonderful experience -- real horsemen always want to care for their horses, not have someone else do it, and that was truly the case here. It was also fun to see how quickly people learned how to work with each other, sharing tools and tasks. After dinner, everyone stopped at the barn for the final check of the night.

At night, after dinner, we came back to the lodge and mostly watched videos. Most striking to me was the fact that Totilas, in winning at WEG, outshone his competitors because of his relaxation (on the bottom of the pyramid) despite some shortcomings (his extensions particularly).

I have thought about listing the things that I learned. One would definitely be that I'd rather ride in a $3K saddle than a $900 saddle. The saddle doesn't make the rider but I was not comfortable. One is that I felt at camp that it was easy to be my real self, the one that isn't subservient and is just as competent as anyone else, one that isn't so aware of hierarchy and (my own lower) social status: I love riding horses! And I would have gotten on any horse there and given it a go. I was surprised at the range of riding ability/experience and at the range of horses (from plain to fancy) at such an expensive clinic. But it absolutely makes sense in that dressage is the basis, what all else is (or should be) built upon, and dressage can improve every horse and every rider.

And did I forget to mention the voodoo dolls?

Oh, yeah, the t-shirt! I'm so happy to have the t-shirt!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Horse Camp

How cool is that? And bigger than I can even fathom. Three and a half days, with a horse and eleven other horse/rider combos, doing thinking living and breathing pretty much nothing but dressage and horsemanship.

And to have that given to me, out of the blue.

I am overwhelmed, I am speechless, I am grateful. It brings tears to my eyes and butterflies to my stomach.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

epilog to prolog

Working backwards, I guess, I had a mahvelous time in the costume contest. But that was very little in the way of riding.

I was well pleased with Rolinette, my ride in the show, and the progress we've made. Our score was 63.2 and I was .8 out of first (got second -- strangely my first red ribbon in the newest collection). Got 7 in both canter circles and an 8 in one trot circle. Canter transitions up were prompt and obedient but not forward until the second stride ever. Canter transitions down tend to be a bit against the hand and we'll be working on that -- hopefully with some lesson help there. I'd determined to push the free walk, did, got a jig step -- you pays your money you takes your chances -- that's fine. I did what I wanted to do and am well pleased.

The stretchy circle is something else again. I mean, it is better than it was. But it. is. not. good. I think I will work this winter in the fields (because she seeks out the contact best there) and then try to bring that into the arena. The Friesian propensity to get behind the bit is quite difficult to know how to correct. She's got some lengthening . . . she could move up.

Before the show I rode as I said I would . . . Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Friday was very windy so we didn't even approach the judge's stand -- one doesn't want to create issues. I don't specifically remember now the others.

This is, I think, the end of documenting every ride. For now anyway.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

yeah yeah yeah

I did ride another time that didn't make it on here. Am I tired of the chronicling? (that's how you spell that? really?) Maybe. I'll take it to the last horse show and then we'll see. Maybe I'm just tired as it has been -- not full, not busy, but relentless time sucks -- lately.

I did a typical arena ride, with the ladies, had fun, Rol was good. I'm just not gonna worry too much about the show -- it will be what it will be. This coming week I will try to ride Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

And evidently I rode twice since I posted here, Wednesday and Thursday. We did take Friday off. Wednesday was windy and she was strong and we tried like crazy to relax. Our stretchy circle isn't likely to be much better than last time I'm afraid. But hopefully canter will be better, and I'll be more aggressive at the free walk.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

rode, finally

We didn't really, totally, take two weeks completely off. Last Tuesday I hopped on bareback and we walked (mostly, trotted enough for me to know that I can't trot bareback on that horse for long at all, and cantered enough for me to be happy but mostly walked -- there is so much you can to at a walk). She was a lot of fun bareback in that I could just almost audibly hear her thinking, "umm, hey, did you realize you forgot the saddle? Are you sure you won't fall off?" But once she got used to it (and assured herself that I wasn't going to fall off), she was fine.

Today I finally made it on again. Saddled during the sunshine, got to the trot serpentines and it rained. Not hard but it was chilly and not my saddle so we went inside where we waited the short drizzle out then finished the work out. She was great considering how long she's been off. A few almost really good upward canter transitions. One almost decent stretchy circle. She's really just a lot of fun to ride.

A bit less than two weeks to the show. T3. And costume, bareback.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

after a week off

After we had a week off, we rode yesterday. She was a tiny bit hot but she's always so very willing and I do so love that. She didn't really want to do the whole shoulder fore thing but she had some nice moments. And some of the canter transitions, up, were half nice in that we had a nice and I think clean jump into it but forward took two or three strides for me to get. But she did keep the canter nicely, gave me a little lengthen and a little come back.

And the strangest thing was that I felt back enough, not tippy. Would like to keep that part.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

two rides

Two rides this week -- I haven't figured out quite how to ride Wednesdays with the farrier there. I mean, I do KNOW how -- just do it -- but still. We did the usual arena work both rides, except concentrated a bit on the canter work going for lots of transitions, and lots of changes of bend, and lots of stretchy circles!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


That's what we did Tuesday; we walked the hills. That's all. She was hot when we came back.

But here is what I'm thinking. Due to circumstances, I didn't ride today so I thought about it. A lot. I mean, it isn't like I don't do that anyway. But I don't think we can use the "better shape physically" mantra anymore. We've simply got to improve, do the work, and that means primarily arena work. I need to quit playing and see how much improvement I can get in the next month.

I think this is what I want: clean canter transitions; a decent stretchy circle; and to get that free walk better. Now, I should be able to get clean canter transitions . . . if I can. What I mean is, that is a matter of training and riding. The stretchy circle is more iffy because I'm more iffy on it so I just have to try and get her to try, and so what if it isn't perfect but to be better. And the walk, in some ways I can't do much about how she walks, but then again, when I first get on her, she has the best walk so I just have to figure out how to get that walk in the middle of working her instead of just after I get on in warm up. It isn't going to be an 8 walk, but it can be better than it has been in tests.

Of course, we've also got to work on that change of bend thing. And lots of shoulder fore in everything. And in front of let canter (and trot and walk).

I need to incorporate at least two different canter sessions into the workout, probably something like walk-trot-canter-trot-walk-trot-canter-trot-walk. I also need to think, constantly, half halt half halt ask.

So those are things I was thinking about today.

Monday, September 6, 2010


With the ladies. Pretty regular ride. Rol was up about something (at least one neighbor was mowing his hay and she was suspicious that others were also doing . . . stuff). It had been a week since our last ride (should I preface that sentence with, "forgive Epona for I have sinned"?).

I concentrated on getting her "straight" with lots of shoulder fore. We did not do a lot of transitions to and from canter (and the four we did do were not good) but we held the canter for the circle, the long side and another circle at least. On the long side I thought of shoulder fore even at canter because I could feel the crookedness, the haunches falling in. So I think the info I got from the show a very good thing indeed. Also asked for more canter down the long side, which she responded with. What she doesn't know is how to pull back from that -- the thinks a downward transition from canter means to trot, so we've got to work through that.

After the work, the ladies and I played "follow the leader", walking (mostly) and trotting serpentines, circles and diagonals.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I did ride

although I was about to forget to record it. Not Sunday, yes Monday, not Tuesday. I walked a hill in the back then went to the flat front field and trotted and cantered some. I don't think either one of us got anything out of it. But it was a try. Back to shoulder fores and canter transitions in the arena. And hopefully review the video of the test today.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

that was fine (the way Heather says it)

Fine. Not good, not bad. Adequate. A sixty. I am not particularly disappointed in that I am very pleased with the progress Rol has made. She is fit, she is much steadier in the bridle. I still can't get a decent canter transition up though. And her hind end is falling in. Lots of shoulder fore the judge said. Yes ma'am.

I was not particularly pleased with my ride today. It was fine in that I did do some things that I meant to do, like keep her relatively straight on center line and in halt, and keep her from jigging in that medium walk before the very quick trot/canter transition at C. Both things involve what feels to me like leg off. That was my finesse thing. But riding her I never quite felt in sync. Like I was riding on top of her instead of inside of her.

And like I was tipping. And I so hate that.

And there was the BEAUTIFUL rider there, something like 21 and gorgeous but way more important to me, a gorgeous rider. I so want to be there.

I am so not there. But I have a good feel. I need the seat. I need the seat.

And I did not let her go forward enough at canter. What is that about? I am not afraid so why am I holding her? I need to not do that, period. What I want to do is take up the whole large arena and canter her around on a loose rein until both she and I feel it. That probably won't exactly happen. Like so many things.

I want to find someone who rides (or has ridden) themselves beautifully and who has students who she/he has taught to ride beautifully and say, "Transform me! I'll work, I'll work hard, I won't complain."

I didn't bring the test home because Lisa hasn't seen it yet but I want to study it some more, for sure. And to see the video. And to ride some more. One more show this season.

Friday, August 27, 2010

that which you manifest is before you

The day before horse show day. A day for hanging out at the barn, having that last prep ride, bathing the horse, cleaning all the tack, polishing the boots, making sure all the equipment is gathered, doing whatever else around the barn/show grounds needs to be done, stuff.

I did pretty much what I said I would do in the last post and everything went so well, so smoothly, I was rather "done" in just, maybe 30 minutes. I had sworn I wouldn't ride the test again but the dressage arena was freshly dragged and no one was out and about and Rol was fresh and I went for it. Much better. Most trouble today was holding that canter -- she hits those long sides and thinks she's supposed to trot.

The biggest thing is me -- be quiet and subtle but definite. Always ride the current movement, not the last one. Enjoy this magnificent steed. All that combined would equal a very good ride indeed.

Kind of ironically, I'm thinking I like the pattern of T3. We'll see. Breathe.


Rode three times and none of them ideal, just in distractions, which, ironically, is fine, maybe even perfect. Sunday it had been very wet and I didn’t ride until the last thing before evening chores. I started on some hills but not my usual ones because the back gate of the back arena was closed and I didn’t want to dismount to open it. They were a bit slick, so we just did a few and went to the back arena and did a few things, the laterals and trying to work (without a lot of success I must say) on that stretchy circle thing. And we didn’t buck into canter.

Monday I was getting on first thing after morning feeding and as I walked into the arena, lawn mower guy drove in. Rolinette hates pretty much anything motorized. We were able to school just fine as he worked a little ways away from the arena but when he got to mowing right around it, she wanted to scoot. So having had a fine work already, we quit. I had wanted to ride the test again just to feel how it flows. It still seems to be a really fast moving test.

Tuesday the lawn mower guy was finishing up the weed eating early and I didn’t get on until he left. So as soon as I got in the arena, the next door tractor started up. Which isn’t as bad as the lawn mower guy but still created some tension in that end of the arena. Nonetheless, I did a regular sort of warm up, about twenty minutes, and then rode the test. Three times. She’s in really amazingly good shape. Of course, it wasn’t as hot as it has been, but she wasn’t huffing at all really. She was sweaty and I think at the end tired (she stumbles when she is tired, and sometimes when she isn’t but more when she is), but not in bad shape at all.

I am unlikely to ride the test again so from here on it is seeing it clearly in my mind. Ride serpentines to practice changing that bend. Ride specific canter transitions. Practice walk-trot-canter in a short period instead of “I’m gonna trot until I get it together and then canter.” Stretchy trot stretchytrotstretchytrot. And lots of halts and all other transitions of course. In the walk series, I have to keep her energized in that first medium walk to free, but when we come back to medium, legs almost off or she’ll jig. Ask her to relax AND do the work. And hold that canter.

And so a VI girl came back from her summer the other day and informed me, while I was cleaning a stall, that cleaning stalls was what Mexicans were for. I kid you not. Such a position of privilege and self-importance overlaid with complete cluelessness. But there is also the how small a peon she was talking to in her estimation. That would be me and pretty much everyone else at the barn too. I’m sure this is not a politically acceptable response but we’ve all got our “Mexican” names now: Juan, Julio, Lupa, Taco, Carlita, Margarita, Corona, Pedro.

But in all seriousness, wouldn’t we all like to ride more? I’d asked someone I’d run into who has seven or eight horses if he needed any of them ridden and boss asked if I didn’t have enough riding opportunities with her. My response was in the form of a question: “Do you have enough riding opportunities?” “Not that people want to pay me for.” Well, bingo. What if I could ride his horses and get paid? Would that be so bad?

Someone observed the other day that I was doing what was perhaps my “dream” job. Well, it isn’t my dream job. It is, perhaps, my ideal job, the job I can actually do and be good at and LOVE and progress and still be multifaceted as a person. My actual dream job is probably something I either don’t have the skills for or would take me entirely away from my real life, the stuff that really matters to me. But I’m always looking at how to move toward that ideal without ruining my real life. I’m not sure how much of that is possible, but I’m real sure that more of it is possible than is currently manifested. I would prefer to get there through my friends moving toward their ideals too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The old girl looks pretty good, and Rolinette doesn’t look bad either

It rained, blessed rain. But then again, it’s race week so it has to rain. It rained a lot, to where the arena was essentially floating. Lessons were moved to McPherson’s Quarter Horse Arena. Rolinette hadn’t been off property for years (except for Friesian inspections) but was perfectly fine of course.

I just had two lessons with Lisa this week, and now a lesson with Andre. I would love to do this more often, or probably more like one lesson a week anyway. I would love to commit to something like 12 weekly lessons with Lisa Moose focusing on position using a lot of lunge work. Oh well. I’m glad for these lessons as I’ve had weeks, maybe months, without a lesson at all. Which had been fine too. I feel like we’d made lots of progress on our own, Rolinette and I, but we need help too.

So, lesson with Andre. I’m never sure if I should talk more in a lesson, or less. Is what I understand important, or should I just do what I’m told and understand later? So when we start in walk and do shoulder fore, I tell him my experience with her increasing lateralness. And he helps me in that he says that yes, sometimes she cheats by bending but just moving her hindquarters over too. But she also does it correctly too. So we of course work toward more correctness. She does rather consistently lose forward when she gets it right, probably because it is still difficult for her.

We worked on halt. He said twenty halts a session was minimal or you weren’t working on halt at all. From both walk and trot through walk. My key in that transition is to allow because it is in the softening, in the allowance, that she squares up.

He watched her trot a bit and didn’t say a whole lot. He did remark that the rhythm was good. Then we worked primarily on the stretchy trot and I learned so much from him here. Stretchy trot I don’t remember ever learning in my before life, so it is new. And I’ve never felt fully instructed in it in this life, though I have asked. I read some helpful info in a book or two and mostly trial and errored it. I understood that it is easier if there is a good connection prior to asking for the stretch, but what about in the stretch, when she stretches then stops stretching and I’ve only got a 20M circle to get it? Andre’s instructions were basically to keep the connection on the outside rein steady (which amounts to adjusting it pretty constantly for her continually inconsistent stretch right now) and asking for bend (and round) with the inside rein, and then just keeping the leg there, not asking for too much but not abandoning her with the legs either, remind her to keep trucking. So, for this show I’ve got a week, three to five rides, to improve that. Wonder how far it can come?

At canter we ironically had issues with right canter more than left, exactly opposite of usual. And kicking out again, big time. His advice was to use the outside leg to cue but only by sliding it back, not by using it per se, and to use (squeeze) with the inside leg, and to maintain that outside leg back position, without squeeze, for the entire canter, and if she needs help keeping it, to use the inside leg for that. Our downward transitions during the lesson were not good and we definitely need to get there to work on those. The good news on this for the show is that she’s strong enough now to warm up several canter transitions, so hopefully she won’t be too excited by it, or resistant, or anything but round and willing.

I admire how Andre can give you actual insights into how to be a more effective and make you feel good about it at the same time.

He also said to me, several times and in several different contexts, "Ninety-five percent of the time when there is an evasion, the first part of solving that is more forward." If you've been paying attention, if you remember my last lesson with him, you might understand why this tickled me! I totally agree with him. This time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

tippy tippy tippy

That's what I am, riding. Tippy. I once had a cat named Tippy, well, not mine but my brother's at a time when we each had a tom cat. Mine was Midnight and another was Spike. Spike was white. Tippy was Tiger's son. We gave Tippy away and Tiger and all her other kittens went hunting and found some poison on a strip job or something, anyway, they all died. And Tippy came back home. After we went looking for him at the drag strip. See what an interesting childhood I had?

I rode today. Nice warm up in arena and then I went in the dressage arena to ride through the test for the first time ever. Since we had practiced a couple of canter transitions already, I walked the whole and entire pattern of the test in the arena before we actually rode it. Anyway, the test wasn't bad. It wasn't good but you wouldn't expect it to be. My main learning was that this test goes really fast. Start off with that trot figure eight which is the slowest part, but after that it is f.a.s.t. And anytime I felt rushed, my body position got tippy. And it is just about impossible to get a round transition when you are tipping. Got to sit back.

After that we went and walked hills which is the first time we've ever done a short work then hills. Then she got a bath.

And I'll tell you what else. DO NOT do divination if you don't plan on listening to and acting on the results. Because of that, I'm planning on riding under the instruction of not Pierre himself later in the week.

I also got two lessons, a short one on Saturday solo and one on Sunday with Dianne and Adonis. I am sorry, I think too much time has gone by for me to do a blow by blow. I was really glad Lisa got to see how Rol, her horse, is going. And Lisa's main lesson to me on Sunday was to stay in the moment, to ride the next stride not the last one, and not just in the test but all the time. There is time to think about it later.

Oh, and I think we did decide to ride T3.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

dream, show, ride

The alarm woke me up Monday morning, early, for work. It woke me up in the midst of a dream.

I was trotting up to a judge. It was actually up an incline in the dream. And looking back, from the waking state, I know what I was doing was piaffing and passaging but as far as I was concerned in the dream, it was just trotting. I noticed, in the dream, that it wasn't really going anywhere (piaffe) and when I thought forward, it went forward, and I could control how far by just thinking about it. And partway there I thought, oh, this is a lot of suspension and at that exact moment I knew the judge wrote on the test, "nice suspension" and I thought, oh, I have to think the right things! What I should think at the end of each movement is, "EIGHT!" Anyway, the alarm rang but the dream stayed.

At the barn, the boss and I both rode early. During the free walk warm up we were talking and I told her about the dream. She said, "Did the judge tell you you were over-achieving for training level?" I thought that was funny. My friend Dianne, she knows.

I had talked to her about whether to do T3 or T4. So, what I'm thinking now is that I'd really like to do both of them. I wonder if I can talk her into that. Last night I would wake up in the middle of one of those tests or the other. We're doing a lesson Saturday so I suppose we'll decide then. She'll pretend it is my decision. But what is she willing to do? What am I willing to ask for?

Another thing that is going on is that she's going to an A show in September when I will be otherwise engaged. She'll be showing one of her training horses. I want her to take Rolinette to show her too! I want her to know how far Rol has come, I want Rol to do great in a big, real show, and I think it would be totally cool for her to do well with someone else on her (and particularly her "mom"). And yes, I think it would speak well for my "training" of her. I mean, is there anything I would like more than the opportunity to do more of what I've been able to do with her? I'll let that go now.

So the rides were thus: Sunday we walked hills, did some lateral work in the back arena, did some hills, did some trot work in one of the fields. That was the first time to do trot work on uneven ground. Then I went to the front, sand, softer arena to do some canter transitions. Monday was an arena ride, did the usual all around. She's too often bucking into canter which I think is me not being subtle enough. More seat, more inside leg, don't take that outside leg back hardly at all -- that's what I'm thinking I need to do. Or something in that direction anyway. I also desperately need to SIT BACK. Oh, the photos from the last show! Of course, I did shorten those stirrups and that would encourage a little more forwardness in the upper body and that's certainly what the photos look like. Ugh. Anyway, I also went into the dressage arena and practiced the figure eight trot circles and the canter pattern from T3 and the loop de loop from T4.

Did not ride Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August already

Rode as early as I could as it was already very hot and just got hotter. A usual arena ride starts out with a long free walk to get the juices flowing and the muscles warmed up and free. Then I put her together and begin asking her to work at the walk, doing circles, leg yields, shoulder fores/ins (she can mostly do ins at walk now, fores only at trot), sometimes some beginning pirouettes, all alternated with stretches and transitions.

Then the trot work begins. She no longer seems to require a lot of ugly trotting to get to the pretty trotting but goes into a real trot in the length of probably half a 20M circle. And then she's ready to work at trot. We start out at trot doing transitions, larger circles to smaller circles, some leg yields, shoulder fores, and intersperse these with stretchy trot circles which is the movement we have to learn to do T3. She will stretch, and she will circle, however, she rarely holds the stretch for an entire circle and her circle tends to fall in and get smaller. I need to figure out at least the keep the circle big part.

She is getting more lateral which is very good -- it will mean more step under, more engagement, more acceptance of the bit. She can do the quarter line to the track in by M/B now without losing rhythm or creating tension. She can hold the shoulder fore half the arena too, then do a 12M circle and continue the fore for the rest of the long side. Most times we do two circles in a long side instead of just the one, but still, she can hold it that long on occasion.

Also at trot I throw in transitions at different places, to different gaits. She almost has trot to halt (like two walk steps) but up is harder for her. Although she is wonderfully willing. But we do them at C/A sometimes, or on a diagonal, or long side, or quarter line, or circle. We try to maintain round and bend/straight.

We did the trot/canter circle thing but this time at a serpentine. That idea was somewhat complicated by the guy working on his shooting backstop which was freaking Rolinette out so we just did two circles at the other end/middle of the arena, not the full three loop serpentine. They are still not absolutely consistent but they are getting better. We were mostly doing transitions and very short canters but I did ask her to hold it one time, past a short end and down the long side and she thought that was a bit excessive -- although part of that opinion was influenced by the guy working on the backstop. I still have to work a bit much at canter -- remind her to not lean, to hold herself up, to keep going, because she will still try all that, but just a bump here or there gets it pretty much.

After we did that, we went in the set up dressage arena to test ride the figure 8 that is at the beginning of T3. One never, ever rides circles that intersect at X so it is a very odd figure. It will take us a good amount of riding those circles to get them right.

Shawna was able to tell me that the coefficients on T3 are on the free walk and the stretchy circle. Effectively they are on both canters too in that you get two different scores for each canter -- one for the transition, one for the canter & figure themselves. This test probably doesn't have the thing in it she's best at -- trotting a straight line. She tends to fiddle with her head more trotting a circle. Well, it is our challenge. I guess I need to ask Cheri what helpful hints Lisa & Andre give for this test. I need to ask Lisa if I can come get a lesson. But not this week.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Well, the first one wasn't a surprise -- it was Rolinette in the arena. The normal long walk warm up, lateral still getting better every day. Trot, which now really doesn't even start off ugly although I usually give it a few circles in each direction to loosen up the muscles before we pose many questions at trot. And those questions are, of course, leg yield, shoulder fore, circle large, circle a bit smaller, bend, on bit, steady rhythm, steady head, and maybe just a tiny inkling of lengthening on every other diagonal or maybe once on a long side. Oh, and slip in stretchy walk and stretchy trot in there too. Pretty much did canter just as previously reported, several on each side. To the right she's getting downright nice. Still some more work to the left but coming along.

The surprise was in the afternoon when Lisa was tacking up Nicole, she said, plan on taking the last ten minutes of my ride. Ok. I got to a stopping place in the barn and went to watch her, then got on, walked while she checked out a different horse's progress, then got some instruction. Nicole, when she's round, is SO beautiful. However, she resists round, a lot. So she resisted. But she didn't get hot. She resisted less when asked for shoulder fore because she had to think and can't use as many braincells for resistance. But we had some moments that were nice. Which was pretty good considering that Lisa pissed her off when cantering her before I got on.

However, that canter work gave me my next technique with Rolinette -- the trot-canter circle thingie but just one transition per circle, working consecutive circles in serpentine up the arena, then change rein and do it again which done once will give you three transitions in each direction.

I also got some terrific compliments on my riding from Lisa today. I want to mark that, and I wouldn't mind remembering what they are except I don't want to be immodest. And some of it was kidding. But then again, you don't kid like that if you don't mean it a little. And I talked with her some about the next show and what test to ride. She said to ride whatever test I wanted to but it is her horse and she is the coach. But I'm riding test 3. And hopefully next show I'll ride test 4. Of course, my hopes remain at 60. A score of 6, you know, is "satisfactory". One really hopes to be satisfactory rather than marginal!
  • 10 Excellent
  • 9 Very good
  • 8 Good
  • 7 Fairly good
  • 6 Satisfactory
  • 5 Marginal
  • 4 Insufficient
  • 3 Fairly Bad
  • 2 Bad
  • 1 Very bad
  • 0 Not performed

Friday, July 30, 2010

one ride, one observe

Rolinette, regular arena ride, in the dressage arena this time. She's giving me a bit more lateral it seems every day -- we actually trotted leg yields that I thought were ok today (just one each side) although the shoulder-ins (fores) aren't yet up to snuff IMO. Some nice transitions. Did the canter circle transition thing again -- a nice buck (think that leg was too far back?) the first one but then a couple nice to the right. Left less nice, more work, but coming. Also tried the canter pattern that is in Training Test 3 in case we decide we can ride that next show -- I haven't talked that decision over with Lisa yet but 3 only adds the stretchy circle and she's getting better at that -- doesn't hold it for the whole circle but does now stretch at trot. That test is a strange pattern but it doesn't add the loop and I think it best to add one thing at a time. The canter pattern itself will be a bit of an issue since there is a corner involved and, well, a 20 M circle is about as much of a corner as she can do at canter right now. However, she does a rather nice downward transition from canter and this pattern might well show that off since it happens on center line. Just thoughts I guess.

Cheri went up to VI and took a lesson with Lisa Moose on Vinnie which I observed. It was a blast to watch as it reminded me a lot more of riding lessons at MM -- rapid fire instructions (leg back, sit down, flex more, longer leg, bend your knee . . .) and lots about position, both of which are different from the Lisa/Andre lessons. Half of it was on a lunge line which looked really cool -- would love to do that until my position is rock solid! The horse was also very nice.

Best quote: "Riding is a weird thing -- you have to tighten your stomach and loosen your butt."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


yeah, it was three rides this time.

Sunday I rode Rolinette, a regular arena ride. Working a bit more on "baby shoulder-ins" and leg yields, and transitions remaining round (instead of getting hollow). It is like I can feel her giving me a little more lateral every day. Well, maybe not everyday, but it is coming along.

Monday I got to ride the incredible Sage again, this time with input from Lisa -- she rode another horse she has in training while I rode Sage and she'd do an exercise and then I'd do it (although we could walk together) and get her input. I had to work really hard just to get him to walk on, first of all. We did some decent walk-trot transitions, but only after reminding him that's what I expected . . . and reminding him every time (like every second transition was good . . . well, maybe a bit better than that).

The main trot exercise was just shoulder-in (well, fore) then circle asking him to step out. Now, riding him was a trick because he was really unresponsive so you had to ask really hard BUT the mandate is to not nag him (which is what his mom has taught him to expect -- nagging). And then Lisa says to out of breath me, if you are working that hard you are doing it wrong. Well, ok, tell me how to do it right then. Actually, that would just be riding him more, and getting him accustomed to a quieter rider. To me, he was very wiggly. Lisa described him as very responsive but I don't particularly experience him that way -- more like he's looking for incessant direction and reassurance and he's wiggly doing that and then resistant when you do ask him for something. But gosh, he's such a nice horse and of course you just want to ride him GOOD and make him look his best.

The canter exercise, which is where I failed, was just this: 20 M center circle, prelude with a few sharp walk-trot transitions, then trot forward, collect a few strides (like three), leg back ask for canter -- if you get it, canter; if you don't, reorganize and do it again. Right was fine -- managed a couple nice transitions that stayed round which is really the aim. Left was a different story. Epic fail. Lisa said, "Put your leg further back." I said, "I'm about to touch his hip! for godsakes." Which, I will point out that the good part of that is that evidently my seat and leg are VERY independent of each other since she couldn't tell from inside the circle that my outside leg was doing that gymnastic. Now, ole Sage knows what this is and is capable of it but just didn't, and riding that and not being able to cowgirl up a little and have him pick up the dang canter was frustrating . . . but perhaps needful to him. I would be tending toward asking him to reliably pick up canter without being in a frame probably as my default seems to be to ask the horse to move forward and then come back from there instead of go quietly and gradually try to incorporate forward (not that I'm supposed to say forward at all of course but hey). I'm certainly willing to watch and participate and learn new stuff.

We didn't ride until like noonthirty and it was blazing hot and the sun came out to boot, and when it is that hot I can't wear my sunglasses riding (because they fall off my face -- I need those glass holding thingies) and if I'm in the sun without my sunglasses OR if I severely overheat, I get monster headaches, so I was cooked after this one. But it was well worth it. I did manage to not get really sick from it though.

Today I rode Rolinette again of course. I went out back, did a few hills, used the back arena to do the trot exercises I'd done with Sage, then more walking of hills, then the trot-canter circle. Rol was far more willing than Sage had been and this is going to be a great exercise for her I think, to get her to start picking up the canter while staying round. She's actually been better with the down canter transition than with the up one, so this is great with her. She was so responsive and willing, and we even managed a couple roundish.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

one two three four

I've ridden four rides I haven't recorded here yet.

One was Friday, on Sage. Sage is a little Nakota horse who's been showing at T3 & T4. I remember the first time I saw him, how impressed I was. He moves like a big horse, but he's small. Oh how he moves. He's also quite personable and sensible and I like him a lot. Ok, I'd give my eye teeth to have a horse like him maybe. (I already don't have any eye teeth, just for the record) I'd been on his back once before for just a few minutes -- compared to the giants Friesians, he's downright skinny, almost not even there below your knee.

Just getting a ride or two on him, and no lesson or anything, I wasn't trying to accomplish anything except exercise him and give me the experience. He was waaaay lazier than I expected. And a bit more on the forehand than I expected. I don't think I got any actually prompt and forward upward transitions on him. Although he did seem perfectly willing. Which is a little confusing. His person had told me her latest thing to work on with him was for her not to cue him every stride because it was making him dull. He was sort of waiting every stride for you to tell him something.

I'll tell you, though, his canter was just smooooooth. Delicious. I did not find him pissy at all. He would be a great deal of fun to work with and/or to take a lesson or two on.

Two was Saturday. I rode Bart early. Bart's the biggest Friesian on the farm and the first horse I rode there. Not to mention the bounciest horse. He's recently had his hocks injected and should be feeling pretty good. He seemed very willing to me. He's also much more fluent laterally than his mother Rolinette is, so that was fun to play with and get a feeling for. His person has moved up to 1st 1 this year which involves a huge amount of sitting trot and one of the main things I thought riding him was, OMG I would never be able to sit that trot! and how brave Cheri is to go in and try to! I've seen Andre do it though and I'd also love for him to teach me how! He cantered both directions, he came back, he stretches beautifully . . . and I may get the chance to ride him for Andre this weekend.

Three was also Saturday. That afternoon, because I had my wonderful husband's help, I was able to fit in another ride, this time on Rolinette. I took her to the hills and walked one more time than we've been doing. I also ask her to halt on the downhill so she can have those back feet under her. We trotted some in the back arena in the middle of walking the hills, then at the end we cantered some. In that circumstance we canter with me primarily off her back and asking her just to relax and go with it. It hopefully develops her muscles, her wind, her fluidity cantering. I ask her to think about bend maybe just a little but round pretty much not at all.

Four was this morning, Ms. Rolinette again, since she is the one I have the most leeway with and responsibility for, it is most rewarding to ride her. We did an arena ride with Star and Cathy. I think she is working better with shoulder fore and leg yield but still trails some in the behind. Lack of bend there, but we're working on that. We did a LOT of transitions, working on holding round and bend through them, both up and down, and trying to hold straight at halt. We got a few good ones, some decent ones, and stopped before driving them into the ground but on some good notes. Then I went into the dressage arena and worked on the bendy shallow serpentine thing. It is weird. If I get a lesson on anyone I'll ask to work on that some just to know more about it and riding it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

not without honor save, try two

I've ridden twice, yesterday and today. Yesterday was hill work at a walk, plus some canter for strength and wind and relaxation in the back arena. Today was a "normal" arena ride. We've talked some about working more on stretchy trot circles and the shallow loop that T3&4 require. I went into the still set up dressage arena just to play with the loop because I've never ever ridden that, but serpentines instead. So the first thing I have to do is figure out the geometry of riding that, then we'll work on that change of bend. Of course, having bend to the left would be nice. But it will come.

But there are ten thousand other things I've been thinking of, pondering through, pretty much all related to ambition. I can't seem to get them out in any way that might not be offensive to someone somewhere who I need on my side. How do I get to be the best that I can be? How do I get to offer the most that I can offer? I am happy taking care of the barn. I am happy being a person to be relied upon. It does not stem from discontent but I am more than a shit shoveler and water tank filler. I can do more. I can be better. I have more to offer. I need and I want to take lessons, but I don't need or want to take lessons to get ready for a show but in order to be a better rider/horseman.

Also, damn I'm good.

At the end of the week, I work four days in a row. Four days in which three key people are out of town. Four days in which I have three really great horses to choose to ride at my convenience so long as the rest of the work gets done and I eventually get home.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


We won. With a SIXTY-SEVENpointFIVE! It was funny because I asked Rolinette for perfection, kidding on the square of course, and largely got it. There were certainly points in the test where I felt like, oh geez, I wish that were better (particularly the trot to working walk transition, and then the free walk was wandering but I didn't get badly busted on either of those things), and there are certainly things we've been working on that we'll continue to improve upon (bend at canter perhaps?), but all in all, for us, at this time, it was pretty well perfection. She was much steadier in the bridle and didn't curl a lot and that steadiness is a MAJOR thing. We still don't have it all the time but we had it today! For the test!

My plan will be (subject to change and input of course) to continue working on strength with the hills and freeness with the lateral work. Cantering more distance and more transitions. BEND. The circles and bends and lateral stuff and hills to work on the ability to step under herself. Transitions for the steadiness there. Maybe a touch of lengthening and shortening.

Friday, July 9, 2010

ride the horse you have today


I rode, perhaps a bit more than I had planned to, but there were things to work on. Canters weren't all smooth on depart, and there's work to do for sure, but they are improving. We get some but not all good transitions up and down without losing roundness. I think we're getting somewhere.

I did not ride the test today.

We have some nice moments but it isn't all consistent still so it is very hard to say how tomorrow will go. One can have hopes and yet, without that consistency, it is unlikely that it will all be good either. I think mostly I need to think about riding her more softly, with less half-halt "get ready" stuff going on. I think that increases her inconsistency as she starts trying to figure out what I'm about to ask for so that she can do it already. Be in the moment.

There is so much. In the end, we'll see how we do. We've improved, of that I'm sure. We still have much improvement to go. If I could ride everything perfectly, we'd be ok. Not much chance of that however. So I'll just ride as good as I can. Ride the horse you have today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

very hot prep

I went in with my slick little britches and my tall boots so I could adjust the stirrups for them. But no such lick. Since I share saddles, the primary one I use was being used at the same time so I rode in the secondary saddle today (and bless both hearts for letting me use them) but obviously that didn't do a think for me toward adjusting the stirrup length for my tall boots.

It was a nice enough ride though. I mostly just warmed up and rode the test once. We broke a bit early on the first canter but that was the only major mistake. She usually has stopped straight and square and suddenly yesterday and today she is wiggling her hips to the right and so after we rode the test we practiced stopping more. Used to she wanted to drift right when resuming the trot after the halt but thankfully she hasn't done that in awhile, knock wood.

Deep breath. One more prep day. I ride first. Hope the judge is feeling generous. Hope Rolinette is feeling good.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Rode the test twice today. With my primary competition no less! Love Dianne, she's outscored me before. There may be only one other person riding our test. We were wondering if everyone else had moved up except us! We really do have a very good time together.

Rolinette and I had a good time together too. We did a basic warm up and then I was just jonesing to ride the test but the boss's husband was there spraying some trees and weeds and Rol really doesn't like motorized things (he brought his gator with him) we we just walked until he was done. Then we did the test, the first time a little cold. She was a little sticky in the trot but otherwise I think it was pretty good. The second time through I could not get a straight halt to save my life, and the second canter tried to break twice. I've got to be really strong on that. Let her go because she can do a really ok canter and it has a coefficient so we really need them to be nice!

Gosh but it was hot today. Rode early but worked the rest of it. Roasted.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I do not sing the blues!

Whew! Only one not correct lead this morning and we did lots of canter and lots of transitions. Of course, I'm still knocking on wood that this is it. And of course, nothing is it because, well, it just isn't. There are always the next things to work on, improvements to make, tests to perfect (ha!), and of course, the next horses or the next students and everything else. So it is never done and I love that about it, while I also love the testing to see where you are right here in this moment thing, which is what a show is at least partly about.

Anyway. Mostly the usual. Except I did leave the stirrups one hole higher than where I usually ride with them. I need to wear my tall boots to see where the stirrup goes then . . . but I've got no spare britches really. Ok, I do, I can wear the tan ones. I sure as heck am not putting the white ones on except for the show. (Speaking of, where IS that hat? Again.) Lots of walk warm up. The usual transitions, circles, shoulder fores, leg yields, stretches, contractions. Some trot. Then canter. I probably did three right transitions and 6 left ones. The one slip up was all. She was funny a few times, like once she got really heavy in the bridle cantering, but it is just like we are figuring each other out here I think, and she's playing.

The only bad? When I told Lisa why I'd had a much better ride, or at least that it had come after I shortened my stirrups, she said, "So when you are not so off balance, it works." Gee thanks. Just to clarify, I've no doubt that I was somewhat off balance. I think the cross-canter attests to that. But I also think a large part of it is due to her being green and me not taking that enough into account. She is so giving, so beautiful, and so old that you just think she's done more than she's done. I would also attest that no teacher had made any such suggestion to me and that I worked it out, thank you very much (grin).

I have hope.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gloom, despair and agony on me

I hope you watched Hee Haw. Oh, come on, who besides me ever watched Hee Haw and does dressage? They are sort of antithetical aren't they? But I'm a cowgirl so I can get away with it. Besides, it was at my grandparents' house.

I rode this morning. It was not pretty. I mean, it started out fine and if a show weren't coming up I'd have been fine with it too but I kinda need canter at this point and I wasn't having this much trouble with it last time for heavens sakes. Last time I figured out that I could bend her, set her up fast, ask fast and pretty much get it every time. This time I can't. Yet. Figure. It. Out.

And she bucked. I mean kicked pretty high one time. But she got the correct lead. Because what happened that time was that she was beginning to pick up the correct lead and was hesitating and going about her thing that changes it into the wrong one and I had the whip and used it (not harshly) and by gawd she cantered but she kicked like hell. I just kept her going. She even kicked on the right lead once, when we were a bit wide and about to canter right into a letter (the chains defining the arena are not up yet) and I asked her with that outside leg to move over (she wanted to trot and go around instead) and, again, she did it but registered her objection.

I have two opposing things going on here. I hear Kay Meredith saying, "Make the work easier than the resistance," and I do think a good part of this is just about resistance. But it isn't all about that. So the other part is about being very gentle and refining my asking and her understanding. My gut says this is not a one or the other thing but that I have to do both. It isn't about punishment but about work, so if we kick into canter, we still canter and don't get sidetracked by the kick.

I do feel very sidetracked by the canter at the moment though. I'm like, oh shit, should I scratch this whole thing? How bad could it be? Do you reckon we can counter-canter, cross-canter, and canter on the correct lead (I didn't say correctly canter!) all within half of one long side and one twenty meter circle? I have never even asked her for a canter on a long side and if I miss the first one, that's where it will be! Ach!


I'm thinking about shortening the stirrups and doing it from a dressage forward seat position! I mean, really, if I could get her correct from that . . . it would be worth a low score for effectiveness (how ironic would that be?). That's about the first thing I've thought to try that seems possible. Hmmm. That would be so unorthodox . . .

And what I forgot to write the first time was that we'd work on the canter thing and then we'd walk, you know. Then we'd try again. With me trying to hear what it is that is wrong. And finally I said, you know, girl, just one good transition. And she gave me the most relaxed canter transition left ever. Not a beautiful canter but a great up transition. So we did a stretchy trot (sort of) and quit.

Now I'm like saying to her, honey, we need one good test day of show. And I could use decent rides this week building up to it too. Please. Although if I fall on my face, well, that's what I do. Sometimes that's the way of things. I'll probably cry. It is the week of crying in the cycle.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

extra ride

well, not really extra since I didn't get to ride Tuesday. But the show is coming up and I've got like five more possible rides if nothing goes wrong. To be perfect. hahaha.

So we left the kids at home and went in and while I rode, he did stocking. Then when I was finished I did stocking with him. Then the whole family spent the rest of the day at the lake.

But first the ride. When I got there the ladies were in a lesson then Susan had a lesson so I didn't get to ride in the dressage arena so we didn't practice the actual test yet. Which may be good. I'm always in between on that riding the test so you know what you have issues with and not riding it but riding all the movements and working on it that way.

So we started out with just the usual, free walk, working walk, transitions, shoulder fore/in, circle, free walk, etc. I think after the first trot I added a few 1/4 pirouettes at walk. I would need someone watching the back end to make sure I still had the movement but that girl can do walk pirouettes now I'm pretty sure. Shoulder in not so much. I basically forgot to alternate off with leg yields and so I'll remember it next time. Then we trotted for a little warm up, transitions, shoulder fore, circle. Then I went ahead and asked for right lead canter so that I could come back to more walk and trot work then do the other lead, etc. First ask and got a cross canter, which had happened before. What is that? Is that me being off balance or something? Anyway. Second ask and it was the most beautiful canter, almost but not quite right from the beginning. She relaxed right into it. The downward transition was a little rough but I took that for that beautiful canter. It was so nice Lisa actually stopped what she was doing and watched it!

So then we walked some, then some more trot and walk work. Then left lead canter. Still had problems with that upward transition, getting the correct lead. But we did, and it was ok. We did that transition several times but didn't hold the canter but for about half a circle.

Then stretchy trot the other way (I'd done one after the other canter already) and we quit. She wasn't even hot but I felt like I'd gotten good work out of her. There's really so much more to do.

If I had a goal for this show it would just be to score 60 but I don't know if we can, honestly. The walk and the canter have coefficients and they are not our strong points. But still, if I can ride accurately enough and if she'll cooperate in the transitions especially, it should be possible. Just possible.

I am fine if I don't get a lesson at all before this one. I'm fine if I do too (although I do not want it to be the last ride before the show!). But I have this depth of trusting myself in this process. I mean, you need coaching, you need lessons, but less, I think, FOR a show. That is sort of like teaching to the test. It really helps to have someone see that your circles are all too small and point it out so that you can be mindful of that. But, well, I guess I just also trust the me and the horse thing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

two rides

Sunday I had a regular ride, in which we did pretty much the normal, expected things. She's very much in season and we still had issues in the canter departs, especially left. But we're doing much better on the stretches. I think.

Today we rode just walking the hills. I remind myself not to "work" on anything else by not even putting my half-chaps on for these. And I didn't lower the stirrups (since I use the boss's saddle, I usually put the stirrups down a hole and a half . . . but only a half-hole if I've got on my tall boots). And we had fun. It is this sort of work I think will be best for her actually, where she can stretch her nose out in front of her a bit and not curl herself into a ball, etc. I've begun asking her to stop on the downhills, just a thing to help that idea of getting her hind legs under herself. And after the hills we did pick up canter in both directions, in almost a forward seat, in the back arena . . . with no problems I might note. Reins fairly loose, head low and nose forward. She trotted a bit fast especially into left lead but *that's how horses start doing it when they are learning it* and I've almost decided that that is where she is. Really green in other words. I should perhaps treat her like a youngster in what I expect from her and also in how I ask her for things. A very stiff and somewhat weak youngster, but hey.

Show the 10th. T-2 again. So I'm working mostly on the strength hoping that will improve the quality of the gaits, thinking rhythm steady, big accurate circles, and for the show I will think forward. In fact, I think forward will be the key to getting the canter transitions.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

easy ride

It has been so hot, and she's a black horse. The tractor was hooked up to the bushhog and the manure spreader was full(ish). And so I brought horses in, fed, threw the only two day turn-out horses out, and rode. And even at that, I didn't ride too hard. I didn't even ask for a canter. We concentrated on the slightly lateral work we've been doing at walk and trot interspersed with stretches and transitions. Then we left the arena and walked the hill a couple of times.

On our way out of the arena, a horse and rider fell down. It was, well, odd. He, the horse, just lost focus and fell down. No one was hurt. But it was interesting. It was funny how we didn't mention it for the most part the rest of the day -- one doesn't want the insecure riders being more insecure because then they are more likely to fall, not less. And yet you have to understand that it is always a possibility. And the best thing, the very best thing, would be to have each and every rider practice falling, learning how to fall well. Which the woman who was on the horse did by the way -- she handled herself quite well. Anyway.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


off for a week. Stuff happened, including a foal death and lots of thunder too. So I went in this morning to ride. I could tell we'd both been off a week. It wasn't bad. Still trying to be very deliberate and plodding, while maybe asking for just a touch of lengthening occasionally? I've been reading Riding Through by Debbie McDonald and so had her ideas in mind too. I spent a lot of time at walk, transitioning from walk to shoulder fore to circle to stretch to walk to stop to walk etc. Then some of the same at trot. I'm still thinking her rear end isn't reaching across but just trailing behind in the lateral work at trot . . . but I don't know that. At trot I worked several times (not just at the end of the ride) to get her to stretch (this mostly came out of Debbie's book, the ideas for it -- shoulder fore to get her on the bit then ask for the stretch after she's securely on the bit) -- which she did some. Still some problems with the canter, particularly left lead. Today I think she cross-cantered that lead once. Dianne pulled in right as she was doing it and I asked her if she was bucking or cross-cantering because it felt downright weird. Very up and down like bucking and yet different. Except if she has an issue with the hind end, why would she do the correct lead behind and wrong up front? Am I so unbalanced asking for this? What is going on? So I asked Dianne, not really joking, can I please ride your horse one day, just so I can feel a different horse. Friesians are so . . . Friesian. They are not straightforward to ride. At all. There is not a more beautiful horse in the world than Rolinette but she's interesting. So anyway, I did several canter transitions in each direction, interspersed with more walk work. She felt very strong in the canter but not relaxed. Sigh.

Coming up on a horse show. I'll try T2 again I'm sure. I would hope to score a 60 but who the heck knows. Remember those coefficients. Ride accurately. Do our best. See what happens.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

not much

I didn't sleep well last night and was very tired today. I knew Cathy planned to come by to ride and I decided that if she did, I would ride with her, and if she didn't, I wouldn't ride. Well, here I am writing so she did!

Now, this is three days in a row for Rolinette so I didn't want to do too much. I think the canter weirdness the other day was her heat cycle again as she definitely was winking today. So I mostly worked slowly and laterally. I need eyes on the trot shoulder fores/leg yields as I can tell when her fore is crossing over but I'm entirely unsure what is happening behind. I miss shoulder-in-ing toward a mirror! I felt like she curled a little worse today (should I say lack of forward?) I didn't really ride her very long at all -- as hot as it was she was barely hot but did get a cold shower anyway.

Cathy is a blast and I think Julie and I will be going to FENCE at the end of the month to visit with Andre and Kay and watch all the fancy horses!

Monday, June 7, 2010

ride with ladies

Rol and I took a spin with the ladies and Star and Adonis today. I tried my best to plod along (just kidding although I really did concentrate on rhythm and not once on forward . . . well, maybe I did ride a diagonal a little, um, steadily). We did a good bit of mini-lateral work (shoulder fore, leg yield) in walk and trot. I had some trouble picking up canter leads again today which is somewhat unusual when I'm not in a class. But especially that left lead -- it felt like if I had the bend, that that was when she picked up the wrong lead which makes no sense at all. Well, next time. We also tried to ask for a little bit of bend often. The bend asks her to step under herself and that may be just exactly what she's objecting to in canter.

And the ladies and I had fun. And I think the horses too. We enjoy our little Monday romps.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

not a blank slate

I guess sometimes it is how something is worded. “What did you learn in your lesson?” If I’d answered that question, I would have said “nothing” but I took a clue from my brilliant son and answered a different question instead, with basically what I said on this blog about the lesson. It was a great lesson but I can't say I "learned" something because, to me, it takes more than that to learn something.

Then I was told that Andre had said privately, “I wish people wouldn’t use the term ‘forward‘ at all.” Well, since I’m the only one on the farm who ever talks about forward, I’m feeling a bit defensive about that one.

I don’t come to this thing tabula rasa, I have knowledge and experience and opinions and biases already, and one of the things I really really think is, you have to go forward. I know rhythm and regularity are at the base of the training scale, but I also know that you have to go forward to BE rhythmic and regular. I’m not a blithering idiot; I know that “forward” does not mean “faster tempo”. But people, a gate cannot be “pure” if it lacks forwardness (like a four beat canter); people cannot learn to post on a horse who is jogging; etc.

Ok, now that I’ve got that off my chest. I’m sure I shouldn’t take it personally. I'm sure I shouldn't take it personally but I swear I am the only one on that farm who ever says that word.

So, I rode today. I just saddled quickly and went out back and walked that hill three times. Then I cantered in the back ring. My thoughts were on fitness today, and relaxation, and doing something different.

I will ride this out, in Andre and Lisa's way. I recognize that I am riding by grace and that I am not autonomous. I'm afraid sometimes of wanting too much. I afraid sometimes of wanting too much to be good.

I will ride their way and take my own lessons from it.

But I am good, damn it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mr. not Pierre

Finally the day came to ride under Andre's instruction. In some ways it has been a long time coming -- I think Andre has wondered if I really ride at all! In others, I think it is a miracle that it can happen at all.

Andre is very different. My previous teachers were students primarily of Germans, or those of the German school. Andre is of the French school. German is strength; French is finesse, to oversimplify a lot.

Also, what he told me was in some ways very different than what I was doing. What is funny about that is that it doesn't make me feel like I've been wrong but like there is more than one way to skin a cat as it were. I suppose that goes back to horses being the one thing that I'm not apologetic about.

His emphasis was on rhythm. Not so much forward. He said big horses feel slow. So at times today Rol felt plodding. He says, rhythm first, then bend, and in that bend (and with fitness), we ask her to step more under herself with her hind end.

And that was sort of it. He corrected my inside leg position saying it was just a smidge (like half an inch) further back than it should be -- that little bit more forward gives her the post around which to bend. He said it was an unusual fault. He didn't once tell me to sit back and when I remarked on that at the end of the lesson, he said, no, your position is pretty good, and besides, where she is right now, you have to be forward a tiny bit.

In the finesse, he did say to sit back consciously when asking for upward transitions and to not sit back when asking for downward transitions.

We did a lot of riding the corners, deeper into the corners, and asking her to bend, and consciously and consistently riding through the corners. Oh, that is so much something I remember from my old MM days, those corners were so important! I have probably been slopping through them, and I've known I haven't been neat in them on Rol but I've focused on other things. So ride the corners.

We did some shoulder fore. He didn't use it with me as I've seen him do with others as almost an idea of shoulder fore (almost a way to be straight) but with me he did it more an only a slightly less intense shoulder-in. Rol is not very lateral (understatement). Lateral work asks her to step under herself.

Also, don't lean. I didn't even realize I was doing that and that is so bad!

After the lesson, when I was off somewhere else walking Rol out (she was quite hot and huffing a bit although I'd been so transported with concentration I hardly felt like we'd worked at all -- I was so concentrated that I literally felt like I was in a different world, a world that was just horses, just riding, just being perfect and in perfect partnership), Andre said to Lisa (reported later by Lisa); "She's a good partner for Rolinette; she's not too busy." You know what? I'm good with that! I know how to be quiet on a horse. I like that a lot.

Of course, I got off wanting to do it again tomorrow, wanting to do it again everyday for a week, wanting to do it every day period.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

just a ride

Just a ride and a preparation for the Andre lesson tomorrow. And a shirking of my farm duties too probably. And make no mistake, "just a ride" is a magnificent thing.

I can't think of anything spectacular to report about this ride though. She didn't buck into canter. Lisa had said that was probably about her being in heat. We did everything usual except we didn't go walk the hill because I don't want her to be sore tomorrow. She was nicely forward, for her, I think. I try to think forward when she tries to curl which seems to work better for me than more uphill. I struggle with shoulder fore with her and I know Andre will ask for lots of that tomorrow so we just might find out I've got it all wrong or something -- like maybe I'm making more than it is. Andre loves shoulder fore. I worked in 10M circles at walk and 15M circles at trot then asking for lengthenings -- today I think the lengthenings also involved quickening which isn't so good but she also lowers that head and stretches out some which is good. I tried to keep it mixed up so that I wasn't always asking for things in the same pattern because she's so smart, if I do the same thing twice, she anticipates it the second time. She stretched at trot ok.

I was looking forward to the lesson tomorrow with almost no dread until I got the ride times. I am so funny with that, that nervousness, that overwhelming desire to be good that is almost paralyzing and so you either overcome it or you can never be any good. I'm still looking forward to it.

But I think she is improving. I really do.

Monday, May 31, 2010


I rode Rol today. I probably should have ridden yesterday but the heat whipped me. So today I rode right after feeding and turning out. It was threatening to sprinkle rain and completely overcast and still cool and very very nice. We went out and walked the hill. We trotted maybe less that usual and cantered maybe a bit more than usual, trying to get her to relax into that left lead, not lean. She started out funny on that side (we’d cantered right first then took a walk break then trotted some more) in that as soon as I slid my right leg back, she sorta kicked at the leg and sorta bucked and as she usually does tried to turn inside out. I get the lead so long as I don’t let her turn inside out. But she was all funny about everything by that time so I just tried to bump her a little with the inside leg, remembering Andre talking about not bullying with it, guiding with outside rein, up off her back, trying to get her to relax, and when she did relax just barely ask for the idea of inside bend. That one little sequence was really the only thing out of the ordinary. We took it easy but we did walk the hill.

I was bad in that I could have ridden Bart too, in that I had permission and time, but when I had time the sun was shining and it was hot and I just didn’t want to make myself sick from the heat.

The latest thinking on Rol's soundness is the possibility of a stifle issue, which makes some sense since several of her offspring have stifle issues and her stifle is pretty straight. But she’s always, since Lisa has had her, been sound in the stifle. They may ex-ray it but I think that might require a clinic trip.

I’m tentatively scheduled to ride Rolinette for you, Mr. not Pierre, Saturday. I’m looking forward to it. It also scares me although scare is not really the right word. I want, you know, to be a brilliant rider. I am, you know, not. Not exactly. I guess I still harbor the belief that I can be. Maybe not brilliant but good in my own right, with my own special strengths. You will help me in that and this little lesson is a step in that journey. And I would give anything to see me with your eyes. At the same time, it unnerves me to be seen by those eyes. I would like to know what Lisa sees too and at the same time the thought that she would see me clearly unnerves me. I’m not expressing this well because it is all smushed up like a balled up piece of white bread inside me. I always want more. I think I have things to offer in many directions. I always enjoy the stretch. I need the stretch too because without it cleaning stalls just isn’t that much fun. It isn’t bad but it isn’t the thing. I like taking care of the horses, I like noticing stuff, I like reading them, knowing what is going on, I like trying to communicate what I think is going on and what I think will help, I like riding and whenever I’m on a horse I’m pretty much having fun, I like watching people ride (even if I try to keep my mouth shut when I want to say, try this, or, I think this is what is happening), I like the intellectual challenges, I like the camaraderie, I like pretty much everything but I need the stability and the change too.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lesson with the Ladies

Before I left the barn Monday, I asked the ladies if they were taking a lesson this week, mentioning that I'd be in town Thursday . . . .

And so a lesson was kindly scheduled for the three of us for Thursday afternoon. That means this week I rode Monday, harrowed Tuesday and Wednesday, and had a riding lesson Thursday. That is a very good week.

So, in the lesson we did a lot of neat and cool things. Two poles on the ground, walking then trotting over them. Rol has some issues with her hind end: pushed a bit she has no trouble not adding a step in the trot poles with her front end but the hind end is pushing it to make it. Once she stepped ON the pole and just darn near fell completely down. That made her less bold, more cautious on her next attempts but that is a good thing. She was still able to make the striding when both of us were concentrating on it.

Then we did turns on the forehand and I got kudos for that! It is always nice to get kudos. I got them because I didn't get her excited doing the turn -- I'd ask for a movement and give when she gave it to me. She did it very well.

Then we tried something I'd not been introduced to, at least not in this way, before. The ladies and Cheri had tried to explain it to me last year I think but I didn't understand from the explanations: Square corners. What it really is is the beginning of pirouette: Keep the bend, collect a bit, ask for the turn with the outside leg so that the forehand comes around. We were doing 90 degree turns, which reminds me humorously of quarter turns in beauty pageants. Maybe it was the squares we rode that did that reminding. Anyway, Rol and I didn't have any problem getting this or doing this. My main thing was to take my outside leg off BEFORE we were finished with the turn and add more inside leg for forward at that point so that we didn't lose momentum and rhythm in the walk.

Next was one at a time work: trot in a large circle a good forward working trot, sit and collect for a few strides, post and working again, several times, then when that felt a little developed change the rein across the diagonal asking for lengthening in the trot, then repeat in other direction. First of all, Rolinette is not the easiest horse in the world to sit, and second of all, I haven't really practiced sitting trot in, say, 30 years? And third, I tend to tilt forward; I'd say that is probably my worst form fault. So it was sit back sit back sit BACK and it was good in that when I really did get back far enough, I could feel the difference. I couldn't necessarily hold it for long but you got the momentary feel and if you could do that enough, you could have it. I'm not sure her stride changed much though, not in the collection. I don't think she's really strong enough yet to really do much in collection. Every time I sat her head came up which concerned me some that my poor sitting was hurting her but Lisa said that that too was just her lack of strength.

The lengthening, though, that was nice. I had asked her for a bit of that in some of our other rides which probably helped some. You know, a horse can't really collect until he is going forward and she is certainly willing to. Her lengthening wasn't brilliant (and it isn't likely to be brilliant) but it was there, and if it is there, more collection can be there too, eventually. It all goes together.

We repeated the sit/collect exercise adding asking for canter on the circle, then a nice downward transition, important for Rol since she can get excited about cantering. Ah, but her first downward transition was beautiful into a relaxed trot so we went into the lengthening then repeating all on the other end. It took me twice on both sides to get the canter so for some reason (thinking too much? afraid of making a mistake?) I seem to have more problems with that in a lesson than riding on my own. We're still really just playing with bend -- if I ask for bend too much, she gets fussy and curly with her head, so with her on a whole lot of issues there is very light give and take and let alone.

I had a whole lot of fun in this lesson. The vet is looking at her again Friday to see if they can figure out if something is truly wrong with her hind end or not.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday ride

The ladies came by, plus LB, and we all rode. I concentrated mostly on forward and for the majority of the ride my impression was that she was in front of the bit rather than curled; I left her there. Tried to ask for little bits of bend. We walked, we trotted, we did lots of transitions, we cantered a bit. She laughed with me at the canter depart (enthusiastic). She even stretched at the trot more than she ever has with me. Ever.

Then we walked the hill once.

Then we came in and she had a mini-bath.

I think she missed riding honestly.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

‘til the river runs dry

Rol did not trot off crippled from her flexions. Everyone agreed she wasn’t quite right but no idea what was wrong. X-rays of her hocks were amazingly clear. So I have tentative riding privileges again.

Except I didn’t ride today. I don’t change horses in midstream well. It really threw me to be thrown off of her last week (literally just told plz don’t ride this week until we get flexions done not actually thrown off except internally). I’m glad she isn’t crippled but then, I didn’t think she was to begin with. So, if I ride her this week, what about next week? I suppose I shouldn’t need that continuity. And truthfully I’m pretty sure I’ll ride tomorrow without that continuity. But that’s how I am and I think a bias toward stability is a good thing generally.

I didn’t say it out loud, ever, that her back wasn’t even a little sore so I didn’t think her hocks would be bad. Every time someone said, “She’s getting her hocks injected next week; she’ll be a lot better,” I just said, “mmmm,” or “Which day is the vet coming?” or something else non-committal. But I have consistently said, “I think when she is fitter, she’ll feel better.” I truly think she is an old mare who has had a lot of babies and not ever been really riding fit, and I think she gets stiff sometimes like many of us older folks do, and I think moving is better than not moving just about 100% of the time.

Now, if I can just have the latitude to get her fitter. Or not. I wouldn’t mind getting Gabby going. Or about a hundred thousand other possibilities out there somewhere.

Or maybe there is nothing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

change o' plans

I about cried when I walked into the barn ready to work and ride four days in a row and found a note telling me to not ride. "Rolinette is stiffer."

It is not that I doubt she is more stiff. It is that I think the very thing that will be most helpful is more work and more fitness. A vet will examine her for soundness later in the week, which mostly means flexion tests and maybe ex-rays. It is expected that she will show hock lameness and get her hocks injected. And she very well may. But her back isn't sore and hock and back problems almost always go together.

I don't know . . . It isn't that I doubt that she is sore, or that I wouldn't if it were within my power mitigate that soreness with injections or anything else that worked. I don't want her to hurt, and I certainly don't want to hurt her.

Every now and again "you need your own damn horse" (to do with as you please and quite possibly show what I can do) screams at me. But it also screams at me that I don't have the financial resources to do any of the stuff I get to do now, even if I had my own horse. Whatever I get to do is a gift, and everything that I don't get to do is my own damn fault. And there ya go; that's where I live.

It has been a real honor and privilege to get to largely be responsible for Rolinette for this time. It is very different from just catching a ride on whoever you can and it has done wonders for my confidence in myself. I hope we get to keep going but if we don't, she's still the most beautiful and deep horse ever.

So today I did get to ride Bart. It has been a long time since I've been on him. Rolinette's son but very different. First, lots more movement, but mostly waaaay heavier. Not a light horse in any way whatsoever. So heavy in the hands that I, well, I was very much wanting a lesson because I felt like I could not see what he looked like. I didn't do a whole heck of a lot with him. Leg yields at walk (he's also a much more lateral horse than Rol). Trot trying to ask him to be forward, circles, serpentines, transitions. He was very willing. He very willingly picked up canter, almost too willingly, like doing it on cue instead of from aids. But I did not get a single decent downward transition from canter.

Cathy and I were riding together so we started playing with riding pas de deux. Couldn't be on two more different horses! We did some side by side and some mirror, at trot and walk, having fun. The we walked the hill once . . . or Bart and I walk while Star cantered up!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday ride

Nice day all in all at the barn. Rode in the afternoon, after chores and before starting dinner chores. She was really very good. I'm thinking her head is a bit more stable but she is still curling some of course. I think she was motoring for the most part pretty well. We cantered a couple times in both directions, not too long but I want to work in more transitions there. Thought a lot about outside rein, inside bend.

Then went to back field and did, by ourselves, down and up the hill twice. I think I'll be sore from it so I told Rolinette not to worry too much if she was a little sore from it. She's very careful downhill, a bit more willing uphill; a little uncomfortable with the whole idea of being out of the arena but I think she'll learn to enjoy it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

first hill

Rode Rolinette today, with Cathy and Star. Thought some about more uphill and her not curling and I think it improved but really not for sure. She was nicely forward and probably a bit quick which is the way Andre rode her. But she even started today very forward in her walk (for her). I worked in a few slightly smaller circles at trot and asked for some lengthening on the long sides interspersed with a big circle sometimes (and lengthening some on the diagonals too sometimes, and sometimes a downward transition there -- that is the trick to NOT always do the same thing). We cantered big (not circling) then asked for a big circle after a bit. Transitions. Thought shoulder fore a lot but most of the time it doesn't feel right. Did some leg yields at walk of course but none at trot. Serpentines to play with bend. Not too much of any one thing but a decent workout for both of us on this nice cool day.

Then we all went to the gently sloping back field and walked down and back up one time. She was beautiful doing this. Brave, went first. Very cautious downhill but stretched that neck and engaged her back very nicely coming back uphill. I think this work may be exactly what she needs. Her mom is concerned that she may have hock problems and if she doesn't pass her flexion tests she may get hock injections. And you know what? She very well may. She's old, she's not been fit in many years, she's never been ridden much, and she's had umpteen babies pass through that pelvis. No wonder her back legs are a little strung out behind her. And if she doesn't pass her flexion tests, injections just may help her (oh man, they made a huge difference in Star and Romeo). But I think fitness will help her a lot too. And that part is my job which I love! I think the hills, walking the hills, will help a lot.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Not Pierre Himself

I watched Lisa take a lesson on Rolinette on Friday, and Andre ride Rol on Saturday. I was proud that Andre hit every point I did in helping to develop Rolinette -- circles, forward, hills, relaxed canter. Add that he rides her more uphill and considers her curling behind the bridle to be her biggest fault, or the fault that must be corrected before other good stuff can truly come to the fore. Also he observed that fitness, and muscling in her back, were just long term things in a horse that old. Strong outside rein, should fore when she curls (because she can't shoulder fore and curl at the same time).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

dressage means training

Dressage can improve every horse.

So I went over my test with Lisa today, then climbed on my steed, and listened hard to my gut. She needs to increase her step length and step up under herself in walk and trot. Now, part of that is who she is, her conformation, and that she's had lots of babies and is old. But it doesn't have to just stay there.

We spent a good amount of time walking. Circles make the inside hind come up under, so she needs to circle, and circle smaller to step under more. Then come off the circle and increase step length. And the combination of that just might help those things. And of course, I need to ride her ever more forward and keep her in rhythm. Also leg yields, shoulder fores, shoulder ins. I need some lessons there. And of course lots of transitions.

At canter it is different. I think she needs to relax. Up to this point in our canter work we've concentrated on just getting the canter, and pretty much just holding it although some on not falling inside. Well, we've got that fairly well and now we need to improve the canter work. I think riding her not on a circle at all for that but just asking her to go forward and enjoy it, and then working in a big circle with some bend and all without that blowing the relaxation . . . it doesn't sound to me like I'm describing this very well, but this is what I'm thinking. And more transitions into and out of canter too, but probably somewhat after working on the relaxation.

I also badly want to take her out and walk her up and down hills in the fields. I have to ask her mom if I can do this. This would help her fitness and her step under greatly. Walk for muscle.

I also need to work on getting her steady in the bridle and I don't really have a lot of ideas for that. Solid outside rein, and improve my position. Improve my position, improve my position, improve my position.

We had a great and fun ride. She was very forward and very willing, and we worked on some smaller circles and transitions and cantered big and I got the distinct feeling from her today that she likes this. It is rather new to her but she likes it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

the sound I had to follow

Lovely show. Lovely ride. Lovely horse. Lovely day.

Yeah, sure, we got busted by the judge for a number of things and only scored a 54 point something and placed fourth out of five. It was still good. And some of the things we got busted on can be improved by improving fitness. And some can be improved by improving riding. And some of those things are just who that horse is as a 21 year old retired broodmare who has had a lot of babies in her life (I know personally five of those babies).

I wish we had done better. I wish I could score 70! Laughing, but, sure, wouldn't that be grand.

But I also think we did really well. She *was* much more forward, the transitions weren't bad (except that last canter was sticky), and while her head is unsteady, it was much better than the last show. And while we've cantered better, we got it and we held it and that was our goal. Our walk was not good but our transition into it was very good. The judge was pretty critical in her comments, a tough cookie as it were. In watching the video I think there were lots of positive things she didn't happen to mention. And I think she was judging on the horse's raw talent a lot.

Of course, the whole show is a lot more of an experience than just the ride. Barry showed up, and took me to dinner. That was especially nice. Rowan stayed with me all day and helped whenever needed. Leafy won two duels at Yu-Gi-Oh. I had so much help all day in running the barn and getting ready and having fun. And Rolinette was extraordinary. The Moody Blues' "Wildest Dreams" played on the ipod as I pulled into the barn, my number was 21 (also the age of my horse), and a great blue heron flew low over as we watched the early part of the show.

Barry made a comment to husband as I rode my test: "She's really at home in the saddle." Husband countered: "The saddle is the only place she is at home." And that one has me thinking.

Skipping back to the ride, when we decided to ride T2 and I thought about what score was likely, I thought that 55 would probably be good for us at this point. That's what we scored. The winner of the class scored 61 and the next three were within a point of 55.

Friday, April 30, 2010

day before the horse show

The day before the horse show dawned bright and sunny blah blah blah. So packed my already tried on show clothes, and the clothes that will go over my show clothes while I braid, and my polished boots, into the van and headed out to the barn. Tomorrow I should only need to remember to take myself. Family will follow later. I'm working, so I'm going early to feed and get the ones that can go out turned out and those stalls cleaned so other horses can use those stalls for the day.

I took my time grooming as I think that helps get her muscles loose, lots of massaging. Then braided (it was tighter but uglier today, lumpy and bumpy). Rode. Nice ride. I just warmed up about like I hope to do tomorrow, not too much. A good amount of walk with circles and bends and leg yields and contractions and lengthenings, and enough trot that she can actually trot instead of whatever it is she does at first. Then I just asked for a few transitions to make sure she was listening and willing to go when asked and then I rode my test. It was probably better than the last time -- at least I got 20 meter circles. She doesn't like the judge's tent but nobody does or will and it only took three circles to hit the track on that end.

So then we went in and bathed. And then cleaned tack. And hung out a bit. And talked to the women who are helping me work the barn tomorrow. Etc. Wonderful day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Library day and lesson that was rained out the other day. Braided -- it was ok; passable. Did it fast too -- about 10 minutes. I was trying to work out the timing for not getting on too early day of show.

Lesson went very well. So wish I could have one a week . . . or four times a week! Except my thighs felt like jello about a half hour after I got off.

So, in general the things we've worked very hard on, the things that were the sketchiest, went very well when we rode the test today. The things that should be more established didn't go as well. That's ok. I did talk with Lisa some about wanting my mistakes to be forward mistakes. She also asked me some about my goals in my canter work -- I said it was to get the canter on the correct lead and to hold it until I was supposed to trot. I mean, that's really all we've worked up to so far. Luckily Rol is rather naturally round at canter and if I can keep her from falling in to the circle, she looks really nice.

I still have to think really forward I think on that trot. Really really forward. Sit back, sit down, push from behind.

I missed three of my four big circles today -- that is, they were more like 15 meter circles than 20. That's a big thing. Also, free walk zigzag has to seem to me to go past X to get there (if that makes sense).

So, let me just talk my way through this test.

(inside arena warm up, trot a couple circles at judges end, a few transitions so she'll come up from that halt for me later, remind her with whip to be forward)
-A, working trot (straight) up center line, X, halt (square), salute (relax, take your time, half halt to prepare), continue working trot.
-C, track right (forward, bend, shoulder fore, forward)
-B, 20 meter circle (make it to the track at B period, forward, play with bend a little, make sure inside leg is long, once I'm off the circle, continue with energy, sit back)
-KXM, change rein, working trot (really sit back, relax, forward, let her shine, straight between hands and legs, at M bend bend bend)
-between C & H, working canter, left lead (forward, bend, ask, GO, allow with hands, inside leg to keep her out, outside leg to remind her to canter, forward, it is powerful and better too big than too tight)
-E, circle left, 20 meters, (what I said above for canter)
-Between E & K, working trot (aim for V, think relaxed but forward, sit BACK)
-A, medium walk (swing into it, seat seat seat)
-FXM, free walk (1234, forward, seat, HIT X, gather reins before M)
-M-C, medium walk (1234, don't slow down)
-C, working trot (accurate and prompt and FORWARD, let her go, sit back)
-E, circle left, 20 meters (accurate BIG circle-hit the other track, forward, bend if she can handle it but she'll respond to the legs if I have any left)
-FXH, change rein, working trot (show off trot, forward and straight)
-Between C&M, canter, right lead (strike off, forward)
-B, circle right, 20 meters (nice big relaxed forward circle)
-Between B&F, working trot (transition just after B here to gather for next tight turn)
-A down center line (straight), X, halt salute, smile, pat, talk to judge on loose rein.

I just want so much to do well, to be pleased with my ride when I get off. I am having fun with all the prep stuff.