Thursday, March 16, 2017

3/11/2017 Day 1: Training Check In

Day one of our most recent trip to GP Trainer started very early- 4:45am wake up time since I had a 1:45 PM lesson. BO's daughter M came with me this time instead of my mom, and she had a 3:15 lesson. M has been dying to come out and have some lessons and this weekend worked out for her because she just started spring break. We packed up her 17h mare and Penn in my trailer and off we went! It's been a long time since I've had a second horse in the trailer, and even longer since I had one as big as M's mare- I really felt it in the brakes and feel of the trailer pulling behind me.

Austen also made the drive to come meet us for a few hours at GP Trainer's farm! It was so exciting to see her!!!

The filth!
Most of this was from PA. As we got closer to our destination in VA, someone actually pointed and stared at us.

Day 1 was super hard for me- my asthma had a huge flare up Friday into Saturday and I didn't have it fully under control for my lesson. The trot warm up was fine and uninspiring, and after an extremely short time I just couldn't breathe. Penn wasn't fully cooperative, but he was OK. GP Trainer told me to let him swing forward every now and then, but tone him down before he goes splat. I have to say, that didn't really register in my head at the time because all I could think about was getting air. Yay for videos snagging additional instruction!

I'm just skipping straight to canter. It was more of the same, except GP Trainer remarked right off how much better I was sitting than 3 weeks ago. And Penn could maintain the canter for a lot longer this time around, with less walk shifting around, even to the left.

Just some notes from GP Trainer on my own riding and some anecdotal inspiration to continue on this left lead struggle bus:
  • Open up my knees, and little less pressure on my feet, sitting on my butt.
  • I can start making him a hair rounder in the canter, just at the jaw and poll, not the base of the neck (where he wants to collapse down).
  • Keep the rhythm slow because he doesn't have the big swinging canter, so when he's quick, he really looks like he's running and scurrying. He may break more often- but that's the risk we're going to take keeping his rhythm slow.
  • When he goes to break, SIT UP and make him splat from his hind end. Leaning forward into the splat only makes him splat harder (can't lift the front end if I'm leaning on it).
  • "So I'm sitting on the most talented horse I've ever had in my life. He's 16.2, he's not too big... this is Danny... He came to me with at 6 years old with big clean changes and a start on passage... Maybe a year ago, on the brink of turning 8, I felt like I could have gotten him around a first level test. The strength and time it takes to build that strength is tremendous. The strength required to ride the upper levels is massive and the time it takes to build it is enormous and ugly and uninspiring for a really long time. Every once in a while you get a freak show like the 8 year old that Stephen Peters is showing CDI Grand Prix. I do not know how he did it. The rest of us build the house brick by brick like this." (in reference to the canter struggle) 

To the right:
  • Sit back.
  • Try to soften my right rein when I can.
  • Sit back some more.
  • Hey, these canter walk transitions work pretty well to the right!

We worked simple changes with what was left of Penn's energy (which was just 3 changes- one right to left, and two left to right). The biggest thing I have to remember is to NOT HURRY IN THE WALK. Any shuffling the horse does into the new canter lead is completely my fault. I'm wired to think, "Ok, we walked. OMG CANTER NOW!" which is a huge reason we sometimes have lead issues on the canter out side. Penn was a saint in the changes I did in the video- on the first one, you can really tell I miscued him and he went to pick up the right lead, then shuffled and picked up the correct left lead instead.

Penn spooked hard at the next horse to come in and ran away from the door, completely leaving me behind, but I managed to catch up and stay on.

Pretending to be a big brave horse after spooking hard at the door, lol.

The right lead is so much easier for Penn- he maintains the slower rhythm and has so much more strength. Austen and I laughed that he just hasn't figured out where to put his legs to left, and one day he's going to get it and it's going to be fantastic. Until then, we will continue to spend a lot of time struggling to the left.

Nothing ground breaking in this lesson, just a check up on where everything is. The canter has improved (the left lead can carry for longer than a long side!) and the simple changes are starting to come along.

I did ask GP Trainer about repeating First Level and my chances of going to finals- she thought we have an extremely good chance of going to First Level finals in the fall. She said to get qualified and take it from there (who knows, maybe she has another plan for us?).

M had a great lesson, GP Trainer really liked her mare and they made a huge dent in correcting the pulling fights the two get into. We got to see a schooling GP lesson and a training level/first level lesson after M's ride. It was the same schooling GP rider I saw last time, and she made some serious progress on her canter zig zag, piaffe, and passage from last time.

Next lesson, help in the trot for head twisting and more canter!


  1. I think I figured out who GP trainer is. I had my suspicions. That is super cool! She seems like such a positive and fun trainer.

    1. Haha, I'm certainly not going to much trouble to mask who she is, I just never mentioned the blog or using her name or anything to her, which is why I haven't used her name at all. She is very positive and fun! She works you hard, but is so positive about everything. And she gets results!

  2. It sounds like you still had a majorly productive lesson, despite the lack of air.

    1. Still productive for sure! I had better air the next day :)

  3. it's kinda cool that now that you're on a fairly regular routine with this trainer, the lessons are transitioning from "big giant breakthroughs every time!" to smaller, more nuanced and progressive refinements.

    1. Yes, for sure! I really barely had anything to add to this post, because in reality, it was a training check in to make sure we're still on the right track and Penn was giving it 110% that day. There wasn't all that much to improve on except making small adjustments and giving a couple simple changes a try. We simply can't continue to new things until he gets his left lead sorted out, which is going to take time.

  4. Replies
    1. Yes, it's why I took the care to type it out. She is very big on spending the time to build the proper strength and sit, all while continuing to apply pressure to the horse. That way he learns that pressure is NBD and keeps trying as much as he can. It's so he doesn't go, "WTF?!" when you get to something truly difficult (and he'll be properly strong to do it too).

    2. Not gonna lie. That was the prime thought in my notes, too!

    3. Right! So now it's recorded here forever, lol!

  5. Sounds like it was a good lesson, Crazy travel times though!!
    I also struggle with asthma sometimes,it can be so frustrating, and makes you weaker.
    Yay for canter improvements.

    1. It's quite a haul to visit GP Trainer, I usually don't schedule lessons before 3:15 because I have to leave so early to be there in time. Asthma is so frustrating, and it's only in recent years that it has become so bad that I can't keep up with it!

  6. Girl. I'm going to make you ride with your inhaler in a treat pouch on the saddle. I'LL DO IT!

    1. Haha! Never! That day was particularly bad though. I meant to take a puff of inhaler before I got on but I forgot to.