Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lesson 1/2

This was a busy weekend- I had a lesson on 1/2 and we went to a schooling show on 1/3. I also got a little backwards and wrote my horse show recap first, but I'm going to make sure lesson gets posted first. Call it OCD for chronological order!

I have no media from my lesson, so enjoy pictures from Penn's first show.

Lesson 1/2
This was my last lesson before Trainer went south for the rest of the winter. I didn't have a specific list of things I wanted to tackle, but we touched on everything so I know where to go while she's away (I have a plan for all of January, and a start for February).

The first thing I pointed out was the rushy and inconsistent quality of the trot. We started having tempo problems again. This all stems back to a lack of connection to the right rein when tracking left, and bulging in barrel when tracking right.

She did like the direction the trot is going, except then it falls apart quickly because he's lacking strength. She basically said he looks like two different horses right now- his front end is more developed than his hind end, so spend a full month being steady in our work (no pushing for anything new or pushing him up for extended periods of time), and at the end of the month, push him up into the bridle and it'll be like a whole new horse. She stressed to let him stretch his neck while we do our "steady" work, but make sure the poll still stays as the highest point. No curling!

She suggested putting up a 20m square in the indoor using poles, and to half halt and slow him down to almost half steps in the corners while insisting he bend his spine and put his barrel more out. Basically, we let him get strong and forward, but I just need to bring it back a bit so he can build the strength that will let that forward be used for the greater good. This will help bring my right bend back.

She checked my straightness- fairly good each direction, however Penn tends to travel with his haunches in when tracking right. When I correct him for wiggling or wobbling, I need to be careful I don't over correct him and send him off the other direction. She was happy with the steadiness in his lower legs, meaning, his legs looked significantly less like wet noodles than when she saw him last.

Centerlines should be straight.

I told her I wanted to make haunches in better as a prelude to half pass (she thought that was a good idea) and absolutely blew Penn's brain when I tried it last week. He got very nervous and I abandoned the attempt and worked on relaxing him again. I told her I start it in walk because I'm looking for the quality and the effort (and it's slow enough for me to teach Penn while minding my own issues). So she asked to see it, and immediately was like, WRONG! Haha.

We started to the right. She took over working my inside rein for me, and took my whip. She reminded me to keep my right leg forward. We started with establishing bend on a 10m circle, then haunches in on that 10m circle, then sending it down the wall. The biggest thing I have to do is DO NOT SMOTHER WITH THE OUTSIDE REIN. He has to be allowed to find the door out, or else he's going to stop and be confused. Focus on keeping the inside seatbone on, the inside leg forward and on, the outside leg back and on, relaxing the outside rein, holding the pace with my core. No collapsing my right ribcage.

I made a mental note of what she was doing with the inside rein, it was straight back, like a side rein. Not trying to be an indirect rein or trying to cross over the neck (for some reason when I have haunches in or half pass failure, this is the first thing I go to).

I got my rein back, made my adjustments, and it was like Penn suddenly went, "OMG MOM, I GET IT NOW!" and he flung himself into haunches in with way too much bend and angle, all while softening and connecting evenly to the bridle. All I had to do was support it. We went to trot, and followed the same thing- 10m into the movement- except I post on the wrong diagonal as we do it (it helps with my timing). He caught on right away, so we swapped to tracking left and he caught on immediately there too. The left is definitely easier than the right. We left it there, with a caveat that for now, I only work haunches in in the indoor since it has a wall. This is more for me so I'm willing to relax my outside rein. Also, set my whip down while we work haunches in.

Just 4.5 months ago, he looked like such a baby!

We went on to the canter. Trainer asked to see some canter work similar to what was in our tests, so I opted for canter between A and F, circle at B, come all the way around and across the HXF diagonal, trot at X, then repeat to the right. She watched him go, agreed that the left lead was very improved from two weeks ago, however, there was something off that she couldn't put her finger on how to fix. At that point, I offered to let her sit on him, because as she's said before, sometimes you just need to feel what you're seeing.

Something that immediately stood out to her was a complete lack of connection to the right rein when tracking left. I know, it's weird, how can we miss that from the ground? Maybe I'm good at covering it up? Either way, she suggested when I canter left, instead of sending my left seatbone directly out, send it forward towards Penn's right nostril. She also pointed out that no amount of left leg fixes the problem. It has to come from the seat. The right hand canter went like this, "Ohh yea, this is like butter." So approval! However, I still need to allow him to fill the left rein when cantering right.

She tried a lengthening for me, but it fell apart because there's a hole in the connection to the right rein. Gotta get a shovel and fill that sucker in!

Extended trot was not Mikey's forte (I wasn't a big help either).
Once Penn has a better connection, he'll quickly surpass Mikey.

I told her about the long line work, and she said to use it to improve the connection in canter. He wants me to babysit him and hold him together. She asked how long he was able to hold canter on a circle on the lines. I said: to the right, barely a half circle, to the left, maybe a circle. It was like an aha thing- I am responsible for way too much of the balance in the canter. She wants me to use the lines to transfer the responsibility to him. Don't go crazy, but do more canter work on the lines.

Something else: no holding him up in downward transitions. Let him hold himself up. Ask for the transition and give a little. Don't drop him, but don't offer to hold him up. Same thing in upward transitions to canter- relax and give and hold my balance up instead of a perchy bobble swing into the movement because that disturbs Penn, and then he gives a shuffle step into the canter. He immediately carries himself a bit more and stays softer in the bridle.

I really liked seeing her ride him- I get to see me ride him in video, but she put him together in a way that I can't yet, and he looked wonderful.

I got strict directions to take everything quietly and easy, and keep the work steady for the next month. No pushing him up for a longer time periods. He had a building month, so let him have a steady month so his body can catch up muscle-wise.

"Hear that mom? She said quiet!"


  1. Ah yes those hind end muscles...it sounds like you had a good prep for while trainer is gone.

    1. Yes! And those darn hind end muscles. Penn is a bit lighter built than most warmbloods, so this next month is basically letting his hind end catch up!

  2. Sounds like a great lesson, and plenty of homework while she's gone. YAY INDOOR!!!!

    1. She was dolling out the homework on Saturday! And yes, YAY INDOOR!

  3. I've had what feels like over a thousand lessons on half pass and I still want to put my inside rein across the neck ALL THE TIME! So obnoxious, maybe one day I will figure it out.

    Sounds like you have some great homework this winter! I'm so excited to live vicariously through you with your awesome baby horse adventures this year. Go Penn!

    1. And I know we both know crossing the rein doesn't help, yet it's like, "If I do this, maybe I can force bend out of you."

      We have a lot of good homework! I'm excited that you're excited! We'll call it #babyhorseadventures