Friday, October 6, 2017

Since Champs

Ok, so what have we been up to since Championships?

More on this below!

I spent the first two weeks after championships trying to resolve all the bad feelings I've had about being able to school myself, while also feeling very lost without a short term goal. I still haven't totally resolved those bad feelings, but I suspect they'll come and go in the next few months. Since we didn't make it to Finals, show season was a wrap, which left me a bit directionless. Though, I think everyone wanted/needed a break.

I decided to take some regularly scheduled lessons with Dressage Trainer while I'm in trailering limbo (can't go see GP Trainer without a functional truck!). Of course this hasn't panned out yet- she's out every other Saturday, but I missed the first Saturday because I was doing a road rally with Husband, and then the next time had to be changed from Saturday to Wednesday, but I had other plans that day too. I need some structure in my riding again, and I miss having lessons every other week like I was used to with Event Trainer. I did get some really great lessons though, from an unexpected source! More on that in the next post. ;)

A week after its hauling disaster, the truck was given a non-diagnosis from the dealership we had it towed to (PISSED). They basically said they could not reproduce the problem and offered us an engine rebuild for $3700, plus the cost of whatever parts they find out are bad. Uh, no. We paid the $122 for their "check" and attempted to drive the handful of miles home. We had to stop halfway through the 10 min drive home because the truck'as oil pressure had dropped to zero. We waited about 20 min, and then drove the rest of the way home (it was back to zero by the time I backed it into it's space). Husband left the dealership a bad review, and they ended up refunding us the entire $122, which is nice since we weren't any further ahead.

Husband did some research, but couldn't fix the problem with what he has available to him at our home garage. He thinks it is a bad oil pump, but we either have to take the engine out (uhh he doesn't have a lift big enough), or he has to drop the suspension and axle to get to the underside (uhh he doesn't have those capabilities at home), so off to a shop it goes. Not back to the one that handled its original "diagnosis." It's going to another shop that told us flat out that they don't repair engines, only replace them. Husband said we didn't want a replacement yet, so they offered to diagnosis for $60. We'll see what they say, but they seem more willing to talk possibilities than the original dealership.

Anyway, on 9/24, I got my mom to come out and video one of my early morning rides because I have had zero feedback for what I'm feeling (no mirrors, eyes, or video). I ran Penn through a bunch of transitions between walk and trot and trot and canter, with the goal of him being lighter in the bridle each time. I lost some of the connection since he's so used to a heavier contact (so he didn't have true connection before). He seemed to remember being lighter from our last ride where I did that (yay!), and then I moved on to the fun stuff:

Trying to teach Penn to piaffe!

It's very much the blind leading the blind. All I have to go on is GP Trainer saying she teaches it by frustrating them in the walk until they offer piaffe as an answer. I tried to find the rhythm of the walk with my legs, lighten my seat, and tickle his haunches with the whip. I never get more than a good step or two, and nothing so far has been as good as what he offered in the above gif (which is obviously still a baby horse response and it needs more sit in the good steps and less muddled steps). I'm still happy even though he spends a good amount of time taking muddled steps- they're at least in diagonal pairs! He's getting it though. This was my third ride working on it, with basically no feedback whether he was right or not. I need some instruction before I do something wrong though. He started giving me some real sit with attempts to leap into canter towards the end of the practice, and I wasn't quite sure what to make of that, so I stopped there and haven't really revisited it since.

The next thing I worked was his counter canter. I want to do more of it since he's fairly confirmed in his changes (even if they're not always clean), since it'll make his canter better. I want to start making the turns in CC smaller too, so I mirrored the 4-3 pattern a little (10m half circle to 10m cc half circle, down the next wall, flying change halfway, repeat 10m half circle, 10m cc half circle, flying change, corner). I skipped the flying change parts in this ride (I did the middle one the other day), so that I could loop 10m half circles on the same lead, only they aren't 10m, they're more like 15m.

I ended up turning these half circles into a counter canter figure 8. Or rather, I tried to; Penn kept breaking on the left lead cc. I did manage to finish the ride with a figure 8 with straight diagonals, with cc on the round edges and flying changes near X. Super super happy with the work. His canter got much better, and his changes quieted immediately- no hopping. He did one clean one and a bunch of late behind, but it doesn't bother me. He's been clean or late up front in normal changes, so I think it's a footwork/strength problem.

I knew he had talked me into not sitting as much as GP Trainer wants, but I didn't realize how much!! I need to practice cc without perching!

If you're interested, the full 25 min of work is here. The first bit is warm up (walking, transitions), then messing with piaffe, then around the 20min mark we start the canter.

I'm looking forward to more lessons this fall!


  1. It's amazing how helpful watching video of myself riding can be. Often I don't really know how to fix what I'm looking at but at least it gives me one more clue on what might be going right/wrong.

    Penn is really looking so grown up in these!

    1. Being able to watch what's happening is SO helpful! I'm so excited, I got a ship date for my soloshot3, so I should have more video more often soon!