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.