Wednesday, June 21, 2017

5/27/2017 Lesson Day 2: Counting Strides

That butt though. <3

Penn and Utonia hit the jackpot while they were visiting- not only did they get luxury turnout, they also got stalls with runs. Penn spent majority of his stalled time in his run. I had to put his breakfast outside in the run with him to make him eat it! When we came in Saturday morning, neither horse had touched their breakfast or their hay. They were both standing in their runs, snoozing away their grass comas. Sorry guys, we have work to do!

Penn also chose this trip to be best friends with Utonia and screamed bloody murder for her whenever they were apart. *facepalm*

Part of our warm up in our Saturday lesson talked about how to halt from the trot. GP Trainer had me think about walking just one step into the halt in order to find square. She finds the trot awkward to halt from- it doesn't have a foot placement that encourages square like the canter does.
To make [the trot-halt] more like a feather floating down, and less like a brick, ooze him into [the halt].
Pretty sure that's my favorite quote from the lesson, haha.

Square and immobile. Check!

I did a better job in warm up of sitting down in my seat and up in my shoulders (dressage makes no sense, seriously lol) and putting my lower leg on and getting him to keep his belly up. And I did a much better job at keeping his haunches behind him in the canter one loops on the right lead (having the right leg on does that you know).

Penn got a short walk break and then we moved on to the real meat of the lesson: Canter down the long wall. 10m circle at R/S/V/P (whichever is first on that particular wall). Count the strides to complete one circle. Repeat at the next R/S/V/P letter. Make sure the circles are super accurate.

Penn seriously struggled to keep the left lead canter- but he did a ton of work the day before and was failing in a good way- he was sitting and getting tired. We got a base count of strides for the circle- 14-15 strides.

And this is where the video kind of got wonky- the card filled, we got the card cleared, and then the camera didn't quite track me right anymore in the canter work. I wish the video tracked better, he looked and felt awesome!

But we moved on to the right lead, with the idea of adding just one stride to the 10m canter circle. It gave me a really good reference for just how much I am collecting Penn- no "OMG I MUST COLLECT A LOT RIGHT NOW!!!!" It also ratted me out in that I make the first half of my circles bigger, then panic and make the second half smaller as I get to my 16 stride count. I need to make my first half smaller so I can make the second half "normal" sized. It gave me meaningful collection that I can easily replicate on my own, and I love it. Penn was also extremely willing and quiet- no crazy rider hauling on him to sit more, more, more. I wasn't madly trying to squash him.

It was math and geometry and letters and dressage and I love it. We talked on a rest break about using stride counts to center things like tempi changes- you know the horse takes 24 strides down the diagonal, and you need to do five 4 tempis (which is 20 strides), so therefore you know you need to start them two strides onto the diagonal. It's crap like that that makes me LOVE dressage so much. It's how I plan parts of my test. I used this same idea at my next horse show- the counter canter 20m circle into the simple change. I would hit the letter to go straight, count down from 3 and walk. And all the simple changes I rode that weekend were some of the best I've done at second level.

For shits and giggles:
     C = 2πr = 2π(5) = 10π = 31.4m >>>  31.4m * 3.2808 ft/m = 103.0171 ft
     Normal Stride Length = 103.0171 ft / 14 strides = 7.358 ft/stride
     Collected Stride Length = 103.0171 ft / 16 strides = 6.439 ft/stride

A 10m circle is much longer than it seems at 103ft to ride! But his stride was quite short too. I rode 35 meters in a straight line in canter at home for practice the other day:

I have trot steps too, but that's all for another post.

The video continued to be a bit wonky at the trot, so no video there either. We touched the laterals in trot to finish:
  • Tracking right, keep the outside rein against his neck and close my outside leg in SI.
  • Be careful not to get too much angle in the haunches in right.

Pretend his feet aren't cut off, lol.
I apparently learned my lesson about flinging him into the angle going left the day before, because we did a bunch of really great SI and haunches in in the second lesson.

We called it quits and I took Penn for a walk around the xc field, where we jumped a couple super itty bitty tiny logs!

I got a ton of good information on this trip, I was very pleased with both lessons!

Grass coma. Hard weekend of lessons. Tired pony, only kinda-sorta ready to go home!


  1. So glad you have this trainer to work with. You guys are doing great!

    1. I'm so excited to have her to work with too! And thanks, he's zooming right along!

  2. i appreciate you writing out the math work for stride calculation haha. i was literally just thinking about it recently. for some reason i can almost never remember to count strides while circling (i usually try to count by quarter, if that makes sense, and make each quarter the same number) - but when i do remember, things are almost always better lol. anyway Penn looks so freakin good!

    1. Counting by quarter makes total sense- it's a really good way to make sure the whole circle is accurate! And thanks!

  3. OMG THE MATH AND GEOMETRY AND OMG. My inner nerd is soooooo pleased that you included that into a dressage lesson.

    1. I'm pretty sure that's why I picked dressage- my inner nerd is very pleased to use geometry competitively!