Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Riding Recap

Alright, so I never got my 6/21 lesson recap written. Since then, I've had some pretty shitty rides, that I'm 99% sure are my own fault. But we'll get to that. First, this past week's lesson amounted to:

  • Continue ripping off the band-aid of me doing everything for Penn.
  • He's starting to be in halfway land in the stretch from last lesson, so either stretch him down or push him up to connect him.
  • Start working largish walk and trot pirouettes. We need to get his shoulders moving/lifting and establish a real bend in the walk and the trot, and this is obvious enough for me and gets it done too. A neat trick of lightly tapping the outside shoulder for over, then the hip for forward, really got the concept across: bring the shoulders around, don't put the haunches in then try to swing around. Thinking shoulder in for everything.
  • Trot half pass: 10m circle, take the bend into half pass, if he falls out of bend 10m circle and continue, thinking pirouette with the shoulders to finish it and circle back around to repeat. (so you're working across the same diagonal)
  • Trot/Canter/Trot transitions- thinking pirouette in the upward transitions to keep the jump happening and prevent him from collapsing in the downward.
  • End goal: increase the collection so we can start nailing the canter/walk/canter simple changes at Second Level.

All this work will help get this trot lifted up more and give it more reach too.
We had  A LOT of trouble finding bend. I'd put my inside leg on at the girth, he'd move out. I'd block him with the outside aids and he'd speed up. I'd half halt and he'd invert and lose his rhythm. Inside leg again, repeat until he guesses proper bend. He needs to understand that my leg doesn't always mean go forward- sometimes it means bend, sometimes it means go forward, sometimes it means move over. It's especially hard to the left- I tend to let horses drift out the left shoulder (Mikey did it and now Penn does it), so we focused on riding a bendy square instead of a circle to the right. That made me find bend, but keep him straight, and no creeping out on the circle. Which totally makes sense if you don't question the concept of bendy straightness.

Lesson was quite successful, yet frustrating at the same time because this is the same area I had trouble with Mikey (needs more bend and collection), and we never got it down to a science in my brain. Still by the end, we had a serviceable half pass 50% of the time that was lacking forward but had excellent bend and positioning, and the canter was coming along. We both got tired before we could really make something of it.

More media from the show because I have no new media. Can we talk about his chunky monkey neck?
Also, I think he's leaning on his right shoulder here, despite being on a straight line.

I rode Friday and Monday. Lesson was Tuesday, Penn saw the chiro Wednesday, rest day Thursday, then I was away Saturday and Sunday. I should have made one of those rides a light trail ride or something, but I didn't. We went to work in the ring.

Basically Friday had some good but frustrating trot work, and the canter was meh. He totally gets the sit down idea, but forward got lost in the translation somewhere. That's just how these things go, I get it. I sent a couple joking messages out, "Penn was sitting and leaping into canter, and then he wanted to canter on his hind legs, hahaha! Just need to find some more forward."

Monday was... not good. Bad enough that when I got off, I sent a message to my trainer asking if she had time to come out Thursday or Friday this week because Penn was getting my number in canter and I was failing to fix the problem. The trot work was reminiscent of the bouncing on and off the contact from the winter. Apparently we're back in that cycle of training (which is why we didn't rip the band-aid off while we were actively showing). He's starting to hide behind the aids, and when I push him up, he inverts and canters off, where he continues hiding behind the aids in a rather threatening way. Canter is very much the same: he's backwards into the transition, backwards in the canter, and if he's not at 'neutral' in the canter, he's sitting on his hind end hopping while inverted and behind the aids. It's one of the only things that I find unnerving when flatting a horse- when the forward button is broken. Funny though, he's much easier to bend.

Not a naughty horse. Mouthy yes, naughty no.

This horse has NEVER done a naughty thing riding in his life. The trainer that broke him said that he never crow hopped or bucked. I've had him almost a year now and the worst he's done is shake his head. Part of the nerves is I don't know what he'll do next. He's never been naughty. How big will the buck be? Will he launch himself in the air? Then buck? Or will he simply plant his feet and rear? That last option scares me the most because I worry about flipping over.

I went back to some concepts from two lessons ago- stretching down in trot and canter. Trot worked well and he seemed to relax into it, but panicked when I collected him back up. Canter was a disaster- I did it to the left first and he sped off and I didn't trust him stretching down, so I'd activate my seat by accident, he'd pin his ears and lift his head, then when I tried to stretch back down, he'd lean over his inside shoulder and then all bend and constructive work was gone.

To the right, I set him up to walk/canter. It was fabulous. Inverted with pinned ears, but prompt. Zero stutter, just simply into canter. I tried to stretch him down without letting him fall out the left shoulder, but he wasn't having it. I felt the inverted hoppy canter coming, so I gave him some big half halts and asked for walk from the more collected canter. He didn't drop down immediately, but he didn't have too many trot steps. Aside from the angry confusion between us, it wasn't half bad for him. I quit there- the two transitions were OK and positive enough to end on. It certainly wasn't going to get better!

Take this lifting moment and suck it back so he's hiding behind the aids and lifting and inverted.

I think what's happening is that Penn has caught on to the concepts extremely well. The problem is me- I'm still asking him for everything as if he hasn't got a clue. So I'm over bending him, over collecting him, basically over stimulating and over facing him and he's giving me the natural response of, "I don't have any more to give, WTF DO YOU WANT?!?" Only we're so far in that I can't seem to find the way out (ie, we're in trouble, I must not be asking right, ASK HARDER). Cue, TRAINER PLEASE COME HELP ME!

Writing this out has been really helpful- I think I need to go back to basics for a ride or two and find forward again- do an entire ride of pushing him forward in every gait. Endless simple transitions to make them prompt and not something to be nervous about. It sounds like in trying to convince him the leg doesn't always mean forward, I've taught him it NEVER means forward. I need to get some of my connection back. Also, take the horse for a freaking trail ride. But only after the forward button works again because if there's a disagreement on the trail, that button HAS to work properly.

I don't have a definite date yet for lesson, but I'll certainly keep you all posted.

How could this face ever do anything bad?


  1. I struggle with adapting my riding as Stinker progresses. I got busted for just letting him do his thing (what he needed a few months ago) instead of directing what I want (what he needs now). It is hard not to get stuck. Hopefully you guys will get a lesson and things will straighten out for you.

  2. I also really struggled with this as Katai was making progress. I just kept treating her like a baby. I finally adapted and now, honestly, I feel like she's further along then me so it's stopped being an issue haha