Monday, June 9, 2014

Busy week!

So we'll start with the beginning of last week, since I had some good rides and not enough time to write about them on here (I did steal the log book from my truck and hijack several pages to write notes on).

So after work last Tuesday (6/3/14), I went out to the barn, hooked up, and hauled Mikey to a clinic with a trainer from Germany that was being held at a farm nearby. I rode with this trainer last time he visited, and his ideas mesh well with my regular trainer's instruction. Not that I'm opposed to a completely different viewpoint, but I don't like doing a complete overhaul with a new trainer I've never met. I came home last time with a good introduction to flying changes and a bunch of exercises to help Mikey (and me) learn.

The goal this time out was not working on flying changes, I wanted to work on perfecting my second level work for the horse show I was going to the next weekend, while keeping in mind the very sticky horse I had two days before at my last show, so I could hopefully get my second level scores for my bronze medal.

These are the highlights:
-Keep my warm-up moving and varied. Don't just let him trot around. Don't go more than a short side, long side or circle without doing something lateral, changing gaits, or changing within the gait. Be smart about the transitions I do and when I do them, and do more thinking and planning.
-My horse tends to lean and motorcycle corners, so do a transition in/before/directly after the corner.
-Use the counter canter to my advantage. Mikey has a good, balanced counter canter that really helps him use himself. So take advantage of it and mix it in.
-Make the last few transitions easy and mix in a stretchy canter or trot.

He really made me think about 'what next' for my warm up and when I'm done. I found I had a much more responsive and supple horse. I know this is something I should have known, but I find I just mill around in my warm up because I find it uninteresting. We moved on to working through 2nd test 3 and breaking it down, mixing in the same ideas from warm up- even if the test calls for one gait, think a lateral movement in a corner or longside every now and then to get him thinking that I'm going to ask for something different soon.

-Enter left no matter what. I always entered right because he was softer, but the trainer had me change that because he's better balanced left.
-Ride a good trot. Don't worry about collected or whatever, this horse needs to find the swing in the trot more than he needs to find the collected. Collected will come soon after the swing is more natural.
-Right shoulder in- less angle, add more angle near E, change to renvers.
-Left shoulder in- less neck bend, more angle, add more angle near B, change to renvers and pay attention to bend.
-After each renvers, make sure to be straight by the time I reach the letter that ends the movement, so I can push him forward and into almost shoulder fore into the corner. Don't push the horse past the halt at C. If he's offering it a little early, take the excellent halt and go with it instead of pushing for halting at the letter and having something ugly.
-PAUSE in the halt. I have 3 seconds to move. Use it! Then rein back.
-Let turn on the haunches wander a little bit. They can be up to a meter in diameter at this level.
-Ask for more in the free walk to change the 7 into an 8. Collect up the walk and think shoulder fore to make him think about doing something else besides turn on the haunch, then near the letter push forward and straight, canter.
-Add leg to the 10m canter circles, ask for walk in the last step of the circle, then canter on in the counter canter. Make the 20m half circle, push forward out of the circle and down the diagonal.
-Go forward on short sides to help with swing.

I was super happy with the lesson, and my trainer has said similar things. A good ride!

I had to run out to the barn the next night, and it was raining. It takes me 45 minutes to get there and we don't have an indoor arena. I decided to dig out my rain coat, brush the stink bugs off and go for a short walk/hack in the rain. We had a lovely relaxed ride and it was good for both of us.

I saw my trainer the next day (we're at Thursday now), and we worked on similar ideas as the clinic on Tuesday. She added that I need to keep the jump in the canter, and a little less bend in the counter canter to help him come through. Also I needed to pay attention to my left hand/arm. I tend to lock it, and then Mikey tends to brace against it, and it's all downhill from there. I found wiggling my fingers keeps it soft.

We worked on rein back because usually I get a 4 or so on it because it is reluctant, braced, hollow and crooked. She had me halt, then ask for rein back. When I asked, she would tap his front legs with the whip so he'd be more inclined to go backwards. He got it after a few tries and then I got the whip back. She had me ask again and tap his shoulder or front legs if I could reach. Eventually he figured out how to be soft and go backwards. Now we're only left with crooked! Without an arena wall it'll be harder to fix but it wasn't going to be all fixed in the next few days. We moved on to trot-halt-trot, and mixed in shoulder in and renvers to keep him thinking. Good ride!

I rode again myself the next day, reviewed the shoulder in to renvers and halt-rein back. I tried to pay extra attention to halt and no rein back. He's been thinking too backwards in the halt and we're losing our square halts unless I am painfully accurate in riding the halt. Who knew stopping was so hard? We also had the atmosphere from a neighbor target shooting and mowing the fields with a large mower that was behind the treeline. No excuses at a quiet horse show!

We went for a walk after working- we were leaving for a horse show the following day and he was going to see more than enough work!

A walk in the grass is all you need at the end of a good ride!

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