I had a lesson with Trainer on Friday, and I'm fairly sure she has very mixed feelings about the work GP Trainer had us doing. Trainer is 100% right that we don't want a 4 beat canter and that in trot, Penn is wobbling and having trouble being straight, and when he wobbles, his throat latch isn't open and relaxed (IE short neck). GP Trainer assured me it's a strength thing and will get better in time. Trainer doesn't want to let it go that long. Trainer knows Penn very well and is worrying about the "stuck" tantrums he has (the 4 beat in canter could devolve into that, which has been a worry for me), and he seems to get stuck in our indoor a good bit while cantering (it's 70'ish by 120' vs GP Trainer's 90' by 225' and Penn never felt stuck in there). GP Trainer has brought numerous horses to third, and then on past third and some on to GP that had Penn's same issues. Trainer is a 4* event rider who has brought 3 or 4 horses to third, but never past because that's not her focus.
Suffice it to say, I am completely torn. They are working at the top levels of their respective disciplines and at their respective star levels and both have excellent points.
Let me go over lesson though.
|Pretty picture since there isn't new media.|
I told Trainer about the walk work- most notably Penn's inability to walk in a straight line once we get moving. I told her about the things GP Trainer changed (me sitting up and tucking my butt under me much more), and we went off to work.
I worked a 4 loop serpentine for her, then she had me push him forward and bring him back within the trot because she didn't like the wobble he was getting. He did need to carry more step in general (also something GP Trainer had us do), but he was also carrying more tension than usual too... something about being bored with the home indoor, you know? I kept him off the track and went around the ring, go forward/come back. She liked the step and frame he carried right before he fell apart in the forward, so I need to figure out how to push him forward, but catch him at a "peak" point in the forward then bring him back before he falls. She also said he needed to go straighter (GP Trainer did the same).
I wanted to move on to canter before we over drilled him in trot, since I've found the canter is so hard, made harder by him wearing out. I did the left first, and she started by asking what I felt- I said it's 4 beating, but GP Trainer had said to let it be while he gains the strength to carry himself there, and that it was like starting over in canter, because Penn can't hold it very long. Trainer hated the 4 beat and said, "This is where I think we'll have to agree to disagree. Based on knowing his tantrums, I don't think letting him 4 beat is the way to go." Basically, she said his canter was very mechanical (I think his first canter is always that way, but I don't think it was by the end of our lessons with GP Trainer) and was concerned that we were shutting all the doors and he would eventually have a tantrum. That is a legit concern for me too- we went through that exact thing over the summer when we asked for an increased sit and he retaliated by hopping in the canter and in general getting stuck. She wants to leave the front door more open so he knows the way out, especially in a small indoor arena like ours where he may not feel as free to go anyway. Very valid points!
|I don't like outbursts.|
She had me pick up the canter again on a circle, uphill and sitting like we were, but then let him stretch his topline down a bit/let him go forward a hair to the point where the canter became a clear 3 beat, then bring him back up, where it in general held its 3 beats (yay!). The stretch and forward is very fractional, and I can lift him back up with my seat and thigh almost to where he was with GP Trainer. He relaxed a bit too, which is good! She nailed me for stiff elbows as I did this... ugh, I always need that reminder! This will be good practice for remembering how to collect from medium canter because I enjoy blocking with my elbows there too.
This is where we talked about his bulging left side in the walk. The wheels have fallen off at the walk since Penn anticipates the walk-canter transition so much now. She didn't think it was a horrible thing, "He's very in tune with what you want now, but isn't giving you a chance to ask him for something." She had me push him forward in the walk, then collect him to an almost halt, then push forward again, then collect again. Repeat until he stops jigging and bulging. She had me ask for halt from that very slow collected walk, but had me pick the foot I wanted to stop first. That's really interesting because that slowly progresses to timing the correct foot after the right number of prep steps at the letter to cue for walk-canter in a test (aka better accuracy than, "His shoulder is at the letter NOW."). That's one of the things I love about Trainer- she is huge on that kind of accuracy. Anyway, within a few minutes I could ask Penn for whatever I wanted and he waited for the question, which was awesome. I didn't have to mess with shoving the left side back in place, correcting the walk tempo, then trying to get the canter. Plus it's something I can work on after Penn is a bit tired and we have more time left.
We did similar work to the right lead canter. I really liked the relaxation Penn gave me- I felt he settled more into the work by changing frames. She got after me to let my right leg, most notably my upper calf, hang around Penn's side in canter. In working on my own, I've noticed that leg trying to creep up in a fetal position in canter. She said it hangs well in trot, but not in canter.
I like both things Trainer and GP Trainer has us working on. GP Trainer said there would be days that Penn just couldn't handle the work, and I think those are the days I need to do changing frame work. I can't just stretch him on those days, that will set him back I think. Then other days we'll do the more collected sitting work (hell, both days will have more collection than we had in October haha). I really value both trainers' instruction, so I need to make them mesh well with each other.
|From out last visit with GP Trainer.|
It's interesting to compare/contrast this pic with the one from champs- I like my position so much better in this pic, and I think his engagement is a bit better.
All she pretty much had to say was he was certainly more uphill, and he's not shuffling or taking trot steps into the walk-canter transition anymore. I don't know how to gauge that. I guess I was hoping for a better reaction than what she gave me, because I really think both Penn and I have made big progress.
Have any of you had conflicting points from various trainers? How did you weigh what they each told you?