Friday, November 6, 2015

Lesson 11/4/2015

I actually managed to ride twice this week, so I didn't completely fail at enjoying the 70+ degree days we had! Daylight Savings Time ending has stopped me from essentially riding during the week, unless I want to do it in the dark.... not really. I have a lot of vacation time left, and I'm using it as half days on my work remote days so I get to ride Sat, Sun, and Tue or Wed (sometimes the day has to move around) every week through the end of the year. We'll see if I end up changing that, but whatever.

I had lesson on Wednesday this week (after Penn had two well deserved days off).

We had a little chat about what's going on, what the judge said etc, and trainer said she hadn't gotten a chance to watch the videos from the show.

I did a little warm up in trot, and the first thing she had me do was ride straighter curved lines and stop encouraging the inside hind so much. It reaches so much already that it's hard for him to get his other hind leg around to take the next step, and he's just not that strong yet, so instead of tracking his legs straight, he whacks himself behind. First time I've ever been told "stop encouraging the inside hind!" Basically, Penn is Gumby and he's wrapping himself up in his legs.

She also had my not put him as round as he was at the show. When he's on the vertical, to be honest, he feels above the bit. I know I have to get used to a new feel, but it was the same with Mikey. I felt like he was above the bit and not through because my only definition of through was at almost BTV. I check myself by ensuring every muscle from whither to poll is engaged and crunching bigtime. The hardest one to get is the one right at the base of the neck, and putting him super through engages it big time, so it's been building quite steadily. Now when he's on the vertical, it crunches almost as much as the other topline muscles, but I still dread him building the under the neck muscles or learning to be "almost" on the bit. That "almost-land" is where Mikey lived for YEARS. When we finally pushed him through, it was ugly and hard work for both of us. Tip: Do not live in almost land. If you know you're in almost land, keep working for more through. Almost is not good enough! It WILL bite you in the ass later. /rant. I just need eyes on the ground to tell me he's good so I can get used to memorizing a new feel of through/on the bit.

We moved on the this progression of exercises:

  • Shallow loops at the trot.
  • Shallow loops at the trot with collected steps at the deepest part of the loop.
  • Shallow loops at the trot with a single step of walk at the deepest part of the loop, but no hurry to make it happen at the deepest part- quality first!

I was very pleased with being able to keep the tempo and get the collected step so easily from him. There were no sluggish steps, just shorter (and I'm going to guess if he and I were both better educated, they'd be a lot loftier too). As soon as I added the single step of walk and then immediately trot on, I felt his hind end engage for a few steps, then he'd step out of it of course. But on the plus side, no swinging his butt around or getting crooked or heavy in the bridle. He simply loaded his hocks for the few steps his current strength level lets him, and then falls out of it when I let him move more forward again.

We finished each trot direction with 17-20m trot stretchy circles using an overabundance of inside neck bend to encourage a better stretch (for now). Smaller circles to break his tendency to get on the forehand or rush or fall out his outside shoulder. Without solid and planned direction, he will fall to the outside.

He got a walk break, and snuggles from Trainer. What the heck? She's really getting soft in her old age :-p (she's quite young still!). She has a no-nonsense policy with the horses- no lipping, face snuggling, rubbing, etc. She tends to bend the rules for the horses she really likes, so long as they maintain their manners and don't shove or bite. She bent the rules for Mikey all the time, giving him kisses on the nose and cookies. She just about threw all the rules out the window for Penn! She was snuggling his face from the mounting block and giving him kisses and he was leaning into her while enjoying the face rubs. She really, really likes Penn. Hell, she even went out of her way to dig out horse cookies for him back in the barn!

The white boots arrived this week, btw!
Our canter work for the day came in the form of this exercise:

  • Get the trot working again on a circle.
  • Trot to canter on the circle, thinking haunches in at the canter (and asking for it a bit) to stop him from losing his hind end to the outside and to make him engage the outside hind.
  • Wait for a balanced canter to happen, applying half halts and lots of give. No holding Penn up.
  • Ask for trot, take a tug with the outside rein (no holding so there's no leaning!) and force him to steady himself on the downward transition, then immediately ask for leg yield in on the circle.
  • Once he softens and moves over freely, leg yield out.
  • Repeat all the above steps once more.
  • Change directions and repeat all the above steps. Then change directions and repeat. No more than 2 transitions to canter in a row in the same direction because he anticipates

Holy poop, this horse has serious pirouette potential baby.

I'm trying to be scrupulous with my inside leg and keeping it engaged at the girth, because I have a nasty habit of just letting it hang at the girth and be ineffective. Right now that's not much of an issue, but in time when we do shoulder in, haunches in, renvers, half pass, anything more difficult than straight, it is going to bite me in the butt. I was trying to break the habit when Mikey and I were working, but he didn't have much barrel to tuck in to.

Anyway, so I have my inside leg on because we're thinking haunches in, and my outside leg is back, and I'm asking for trot and then immediately move to the inside. Little Penn doesn't differentiate between canter and over yet, so he picked up his canter again and tucked his butt neatly under him and offered a couple super uphill sideways steps where the front end very clearly moved around a circle more than the hind. I praised him and brought him a bit straighter on the circle and got my trot, and asked for that to move to the inside. Trainer and I both called out at the same time "Pirouettes are going to be easy!!!" He offered it up, willingly and freely, and did the couple steps easily, when his body is in no shape to do it at all. So very exciting to see the little glimpses of the future.

He really didn't care for the actual exercise- it's whole goal was to canter in a balanced fashion without losing the hind end to Siberia, then he had to hold himself up in the downward transition, and was expected to continue working by doing the leg yield.

We finished by starting mini trot lengthenings across the diagonal. The couple failures in those (breaking to canter) were my bad because I asked for it like I was asking Mikey for extended trot (kick on and DRIVE!!!!). Penn went into omg-mode and cantered off immediately. I'd bring him back on a circle and ask for it again on the diagonal, making it a much quieter aid (slightly asking for it is enough to make him offer something before breaking to canter). At the end he offered 4-5 steps of baby lengthening before trying to break to canter. A couple more stretchy trot circles each way and he was done. A very good boy!

At one point in lesson we were able to confirm that Penn is not a jumping horse. One of my circles off the lengthening took me too close to a little wall jump, and Penn just about stopped dead and gawked at it, and was like, "I don't understand!!! I don't jump!!!" Trainer just about fell off the mounting block laughing. She said he looked like the kid from Home Alone when he slaps aftershave on his face.

I like them. Obviously since he's tacked up and wearing them, I'm keeping them!
Thursday night, I did an abridged version of lesson on my own. He worked very nicely, and I encouraged him to hold a longer lower frame, and be a bit longer in the neck. He liked it, but eventually took to rooting his nose out. Which is why we don't work in that frame often.

Part of the reason I was able to ride twice this week was because I had to stay home a second day this week to wait for this to be delivered:

King size bed!
Husband and I have been sleeping on a borrowed queen bed for 4 years now, and it's really uncomfortable. Well, I finally sold my old car, so we bought a new bed with some of the money.

BTW, king sheets are stupid expensive.
And I washed all my DSBs. There's 12 of them. A set of beaten up Black w/white fleece, navy w/white fleece, white w/black fleece. By the way, Penn crapped on the white ones and the stain is still there. I'm going to wash it again on it's own just to see if it'll come out.

Big washer.


  1. Oh boy do I relate to that comment about living in "almost land." I have spent the entire summer working out of almost land. It has been rather ugly, and frankly took my scores down a bit. But I know they will come back up. It was something we had to address for sure. Ugh.

    1. Almost land sucks BIG TIME. It'll be worth the urgh to fix it!

  2. that's kinda awesome that you can see inside your washing machine like that! also, yea i pretty much live in 'almost land' with my mare, in large part bc i personally don't really have a feel for where we should really be. it's frustrating!

    1. I love our washer!

      Part of the reason Mikey lived in almost land was I didn't know any better, and then we had so many other things to fix that we would have had to put everything else on hold to work on it.

  3. Ugh almost land is a terrible place to be! I also lived there for a long time with Rico and am hoping to not ever set up camp with TC. But I totally get you- trying SO hard not to be there that you end up going a little overboard. I discovered that yesterday during lengthenings that riding so round is not always conducive to being uphill and that I really do need to ride him up and out sometimes. But it's so scary!

    I love that trot exercise, I'm totally stealing it for today's ride :) sounds like a baby version of transitions within shoulder-in, which I've been wanting to do but he's just not steady enough in it yet.

    1. I totally get that being so through is not conducive to being uphill. It makes sense even though I can't explain why! I am also so paranoid about setting up camp in almost land.

      I love that trot exercise! You'll have to let me know how it goes!