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