Thursday 3/16: Rough but back to work.
I wasn't feeling like riding (time change, cold, poor weather), but I hadn't ridden since lessons with GP rider and I needed to do something with Penn before the obstacle clinic. I started right off with SI/renvers/SI in walk. Penn was not pleased and lost a lot of energy. Eventually we moved on to trot and did that down each long side. He started anticipating the change, so I made the change happen later on the long side. Once I did that, the changes in bend became very smooth. After working it both directions, I went on to left lead canter. Nothing really spectacular to write home about, I just struggled with getting the correct lead (my timing was way off), but he was happy to hold the canter, but was kind of faking the sitting. I mixed in some simple changes on the diagonal but he anticipated those a small amount and they were not very crisp. The right lead work was OK, I lost a good bit of the connection and never really found it, but it's simple changes were still better than the left to right. I ended up finishing by doing tear drops on the left lead back to the wall of increasing size to get the left to right simple change to step down into walk from increasingly bigger turns. As we progressed through the canter work, his head tilt started coming back.
|Wee, he's been head tilting for a long time.|
Sunday 3/19: Playing with leg yield for some interesting moments.
I started with the ground work LM assigned me for homework. If I can mange to do it right, he should start thinking more about his feet and stepping under more. I didn't get the lick and chew he was giving the day before, but I did have his full (if tired) attention. I figure it certainly can't hurt and should mix nicely with GP Trainer's work.
I hopped on and walked around, trying to come up with a good warm up. LM had me do a bit of leg yielding to shift his weight onto his outside shoulder before transitions. The only thing that worries me about this is the fact we're trying to develop straightness and sit (she had me give and he lowered his neck more than I'd like). I decided to go for: we'll leg yield until you give in your jaw and poll, then straighten and do whatever I wanted to do next. I eventually turned that into bouncing him back and forth between the aids when he'd disconnect from one of my reins. I tried to make the bouncing back and forth smaller and smaller each time so that if I lost it in a test, I could bounce one step each way and have him back. Mixing that with SI/renvers/SI and he was getting to be a pretty solid walk/trot citizen. I tossed in some walk/halt/walk and a hair more forward in walk to help my timing, and he started picking up a halfway solid left lead canter. Anytime I felt him shift onto the inside shoulder (it's almost a dead feeling that makes me want to pull my left rein, and I didn't really notice until LM pointed it out), I'd think about leg yielding him back out and releasing my inside rein. I rode the inside track to give me space to actually shift out if I wanted to (I don't want to). This really made him work a bit harder and we had fewer breaks in the canter while still maintaining a slower rhythm.
I started mixing the simple changes back in: shift him on the curved line before straightening on the diagonal. Since he was off the inside shoulder, I could really sit and give my hand and leg on for some forward thinking sitting, and place the canter-walk transition ALMOST where I wanted it. I tried to pay extra attention to my timing for the walk/canter and in turn had very prompt walk/canters.
The right lead became very hoppy and easy to canter/walk, and the left lead was just less work, so on the final change I did I set him up as if I was going to canter/walk right to left, but instead of cuing walk, I asked for left lead. He gave me a lifted back, mostly through, and I'm fairly sure clean flying change and then cantered off to the left like NBD. I didn't even have to ask very hard. I gave him big pats and let him be done.
|Aforementioned new rope halter than I never got a picture of.|
Tuesday 3/21: Shitful everything with a side of super half pass.
The title pretty much sums up Tuesday. I am going to scrap the ground work after this ride until I can ask LM or the other lady who went with us to the clinic about it. I am getting ZERO lick and chew from the work, so I must be doing something wrong, but I really have no clue what that is. He's being respectful of my space and moving away, but if anything, he jaw is getting tighter and tighter.
Penn does have a funny lump on the right side of his neck- to be honest, it looks like an abscess from an injection, except he hasn't had any injections. It's super hard and he doesn't like when I push on it. He had something similar on his chest a few weeks ago that also had a pocket of fluid hanging between his legs, and the best we could figure was he got a tick bite. This lump is super smooth, no blood or marks, no bulls eye, but we just can't figure out what else it would be. If he's going to react like that, I'm going to have to look into those scary chemical treatments to keep the ticks off (an old COTH thread listed Ovitrol spray?)
Anyway, I'm going to chalk up the shitful ride to that bite. He fought me tooth and nail for no left bend. If the right side of his neck hurt, I can see how stretching the muscles on that side would hurt, so left bend would be terrible. I could not make him connect to my right rein and stay there for more than a step: leg yields or SI/renvers/SI. I did them all on a straight line, circle, etc. After a while he just started ignoring my left leg. Everything was very frustrating.
I tried to finish on something good and we haven't worked half pass in a while, so I pulled the SI-10m-half pass out and he was thrilled. Seriously, the horse loves doing half pass. After I got control of his shoulder so that I had some input into the line we rode, he found a new trot gear and lifted his back way up and whooshed sideways with reach and steady flow and rhythm with virtually zero cue from me. It was super fun and gave me a great place to quit.
|Lump. By the end of this past weekend, it had gone down significantly.|
Wednesday 3/22: Well That's Interesting
I googled "dressage head tilt" during the day because I was so frustrated by it. It's something I've never been able to fix, only create (Mikey did it too because who is the common factor here? ME), and to be perfectly honest, I don't really understand how to fix it.
I found this, a magical Jane Savoie tutorial.
Armed with a poll suppling exercise and the determination to try canter half pass (because when everything goes to shit, why not, esp since Penn seems to enjoy trot half pass), I went to the barn. I skipped ground work because I can't seem to do it right, and had to borrow half chaps because my right tall boot zipper has given up, yet again. I find it frustrating that it continues to give up 2" into zipping the boot. It didn't even have the decency to get to the meaty part of my leg. It's off to the shoemaker who can hopefully fix it yet again.
Anyway, I put Penn on the rail and worked Jane's exercise at the halt, as instructed. It made me very aware of how I hold my hands... I tend to hold them at 45 degrees, pointed in (opposite as the suppling direction in the exercise). The exercise made me put my thumbs up and really pay attention to neutral and indirect rein. Penn was happy to flex the poll right, but not happy to flex it left- he wanted to bend the neck badly. A few reps each way and I did her suppleness check. No problem, he held each flexion on his own.
I warmed up continuing Jane's exercise and halting/walking and SI/renvers/SI, and eventually moved off to trot. Penn came out swinging at the trot- a big bold trot I haven't seen in a while. He felt really super. Any time he got iffy in the bridle, I would repeat the poll suppling exercise in each direction within the trot. We ran through SI/renvers/SI, SI/10m/half pass, trot/halt/rein back/trot, and anything else I could think to do. He did it all easily and without a fuss.
Off to the canter! His left lead canter was a bit erratic in rhythm and felt a bit broken under my seat. I tried to flex his poll and he was having none of that- he quit instead. I said fine, haunches in instead. That threw him for a loop- he struggled to do it left as I struggled to not brace on him and interrupt what little rhythm he found. When I brought it around to half pass left in canter (wall to centerline), he absolutely couldn't do it. He'd break, I'd put him back together, and then try again. Each time he got a bit rounder and steadier with his feet, but he rarely got even 3 strides into the half pass before breaking... so I made him trot to finish it- no quitting.
I did the same to the right- he was able to carry that much better (go figure, that direction is stronger now). He got so good at the right canter half pass so quickly (shout out to GP Trainer for teaching me to look up, pick a line, and stick to it!) that he'd reach a point of no return on that line: we either change leads and carry on to the left or I figure out how to turn right again. So naturally, I asked him to do a flying change. The first round wasn't good- he wasn't properly set up for it because I decided to do it about 2 strides before I asked. No worries. I did the left again and a simple change back to the right. I brought him straight onto the diagonal, asked for half pass around the quarterline, asked for straight again at the next quarterline, then asked for a flying change. He answered with some huge leaping motion that caught both of us off guard. I was laughing because he gave me such a big, uphill, through answer, albeit large and leapy, and he was discombobulated because his legs were everywhere. I have no idea if he actually changed, but I gave him a pat for the effort anyway because I know there was zero buck in there. I came around and repeated the exercise and he answered this time by a since clean change (I think), and immediately wanting to collapse in the left lead. I made him lift back up and let him trot and be done.
Excellent effort all around. His canter became much more rhythmical when I applied half pass to it, even if the canter fizzled out. I really like that poll suppling exercise- it really helped put his head on straight (pun intended, lol). I'm going to continue haunches in on the rail at canter- no recognized second or third until the left lead can do haunches in/half pass.
|Need this in canter.|
Thursday 3/23: Quick Ride
My goal was to work the haunches in and half pass again, but I quickly realized I wasn't going to have the indoor to myself for long (the vaulters were getting ready to vault). Normally NBD, but the vaulters use so much whip cracking to keep their horse going that I find it very unproductive to ride while they're working.
I structured my ride the same as Wednesday's, but hurried through the warm up. Lesson learned. He never really settled into the work and his canter stayed a bit more erratic than usual.
By this point, I was really struggling with my leg. There's a reason I ride in tall boots- they give my leg a certain level of stiffness which gives me a base to sit on. With the cloth half chaps, I really struggled to sit the trot adequately, and I felt like I needed to lengthen my stirrups 2 or 3 holes because I was jamming my leg down and it kept creeping back up. Sitting properly in the canter? Ha!
Anyway, I had the vaulters grab a quick video that I shared in my last post, and then let Penn be done. He started anticipating the diagonals, and without the proper warm up or time to break it back down, I had to stop and let it go. I am not going to mess with his flying changes for a while- it's neat to see they're still in there, and that's good enough for now. Once he can reliably sit, I'm sure GP Trainer will tell us when we can start doing them again.
|Leaping late. Still fun.|