Saturday, July 25, 2015

7/22 Lesson

First, my trainer and I decided to get some alfalfa hay for Mikey to nom on (in moderation) at horse shows to keep his energy up. He has a tendency to fizzle out in our second test of the day and last year I got him some oats (essentially empty calories) to perk him up at shows. I bought an alfalfa bale from Tractor Supply to test it out this weekend at our schooling show. I may just continue to get it from there, it's easy for me to get (but is ultra expensive at $18.99 for 50lbs), and I don't need it all that often. I am also allergic to hay, grass, and most things outdoorsy, so not tromping around stacking hay is ideal.

My car smells like allergies due to this poison package in my backseat.
Anyway, so the clinic that was supposed to be Wednesday this week had to be cancelled due to the clinician becoming very sick. So I took a lesson with Trainer in my time spot instead.

Mikey ended up staying in when the other horses went out, so I'm not sure if that was what caused him to be a little spooky and up on Wednesday, but he wasn't my usual relaxed horse. He wavered between relaxed and ready to explode for the entire ride. He baited me like he always does, but I don't bite anymore. It was a bit unnerving this close to the show. Back in our first show season together, Mikey got very excited to be out and about, and I would get nervous, and it was just bad. Old demons are not cool.

We chatted about the clinic, and the German Riding Master's comments. She was very happy that we had gotten such good remarks. She should be, she's the one who got us up and running again after a couple months of me walking and trotting just asking for throughness.

We talked about what each test this weekend would entail, talked about the alfalfa, and got to work. I had done a lot of walking lateral work outside the dressage arena as I waited for the previous lesson to finish. Trainer and I had set up the dressage arena this past Sunday, so I worked around the outside and used it like a rail to practice changing from shoulder in to renvers and back to shoulder in.

Lesson was good, and I'll just recap the main points:

  • As I go around the arena (and in all movements really), think neck rein with my inside rein (no actual crossing the neck). That brings up my inside hand that usually drops too wide to where it should be and gives Mikey the proper support. I'd already been doing this in half pass on my own, but that's a better way of explaining it. When we get working with lateral movements, Mikey swings his hips around like a college girl on a dance floor. Take that neck rein feeling to hold the shoulder (which is where I really lose him- his left shoulder), add the correct leg to shove his hips back where they belong, and bam, he's straight and ready to go again. This same feeling on a 10m canter circle is incredible. No falling in, plenty of bend.
  • Hold a step of straight out of the corners before asking for shoulder in. Don't rush into it.
  • In trot half pass right, ride it like I'm asking for a medium trot half pass. Mikey gets slow off the ground and crosses and goes sideways, but there's a lack of bend, which leads me to...
  • Half pass right (trot and canter): Ride it like I'm going to slide off the right side of the horse. I collapse my left side, inadvertently put my left hip on him, and remove all right bend from a right half pass. As soon as I shifted more to the right, his bend came back and he reached more forward and was a bit more free in his movement.
  • All half passes- don't let the outside leg get stuck on his side asking for half pass. Make it find the rhythm of the hind foot and bump him with it each step to keep him active and stepping forward.
  • If I'm going to hold my grab strap in medium and extended trots, hold with the right hand. I need more right to right half halts anyway to keep him straight and engaged, so I shouldn't lock down my left hand like I had been doing. This makes sense too because I need to carry my whip in my left hand to keep after his lazy left hind (the undamaged one!!!)
  • Turn on the haunches- keep a more active step by lightening my seat as I ask for it instead of digging in and driving for it (GRM also told me to stop driving for it). This is the same idea that I need to keep when I ask for halts and rein back. Lighten the seat to give his back somewhere to go, otherwise I'm crushing it down and he'll invert because he simply can't combat my seat to bring up his back.
  • Medium and Extended canter to collected canter: When asking for the downward transition, think of it as putting my shoulders back into a recliner that doesn't want to recline. This engages my core and slows my seat without me struggling to do so, and while I stretch tall and back, slide my legs back and encourage him to pick up his belly into the collection. This created the much quicker and smoother transitions back to collected canter.
Then there's this interesting tidbit that I read on A Enter Spooking, if you want to canter-walk, you must collect the canter until it's the same speed as the walk, then change the rhythm of the steps from canter to walk, otherwise you get an inverted transition or trot steps. Like, this is totally obvious now that it's pointed out, and the transition isn't necessary for 3rd level, but I think I want to hold on to that idea in our canter-trot transitions. Especially the one on centerline when Mikey wants to collapse into a pile of downhill mush.

Ok, so that's a lot of main points. I mostly want to get it down so I can review!

Quiet school on Friday, a walk today, show tomorrow! 

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