Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I had my second lesson with L on Sunday and I’m just as impressed. She is wonderful, everything I was looking for in an instructor and it doesn’t hurt that she seems to really like my pony. She’s the calm voice of reason when things are getting a little crazy with my greenie and she’s great at seeing what I’m doing that I need to change and pointing it out without overwhelming me with too much info at once. I think my favorite thing though is that she is catering the lessons to me and Katai and what we need to work on at any given moment and not trying to force us into working on something that “all of her other students are having success with” like J would.
We were also multitasking since there was a desensitization clinic going on at the same time. I’m always struck by the different thought process between Dressage riders and trail riders or eventers. The latter just expect that their horses deal with things that could be scary such as tarps, bridges, flags etc. and the former seem to expect that there is no way in hell that their horses could ever handle such a thing. The western riders at the barn had set up a desensitization clinic on the Sunday so while I was riding in my lesson they were playing drums, riding over bridges, and waving flags around. The dressage riders at the barn didn't want to go near the arena. My feeling is that it is ultimately no different than what could be going on at a show so Katai would just have to deal and after a brief freakout when we first walked into the obstacle filled arena she was great! I expected her to behave and keep her mind on the dressage lesson and she did.
On Sunday we started where we had left off at our last lesson, getting Katai to not be as quick by slowing my posting. Right away she said it looked way better than last week and mentioned that Katai is very intelligent and is picking up on things quickly. She adjusted a few things I was doing and answered a few of my questions. Then we upped the difficulty and started to work on making sure that Katai wasn’t counterbending. This is why everyone needs an instructor because I had NO idea how counterbent she was. As soon as L started having me make some gentle corrections I could feel the difference in Katai’s entire body. Now I just have to be able to do this without eyes on the ground :-)
Next we added a few different patterns at the trot. First we did a 20 meter circle until she was moving correctly and then made a much smaller 10 meter, or so – sometimes I suck at steering – circle in the center of the bigger one. This exercise the pony got but I didn’t and I kept throwing her away when we went out and not supporting her. I eventually got my act together and then we went on to another exercise that L said should look like a YinYang where we changed directions in the middle of a 20 meter circle. This exercise I was better at but it made pony very, very fussy. She didn’t want to have to balance and is still green enough that it feels like I’m trying to drive a semi truck around a 10 foot circle rather than a small maneuverable pony around a 10 meter circle. We were both starting to get this figured out so we gave her a break. I’m always so happy to have new things to work on and I could feel how much better this made her and how she was carrying herself better after so I’m really looking forward to doing this exercise this week!
Finally, after a nice long walk break, we went to the canter. We started in her easier direction and again the focus was on not letting her counterbend her way around the 20 meter circle. L also had me work on getting her canter more forward which felt WAY better! This is another time where I was so thankful that I had someone telling me what I needed to work on because I’ve been happy with her slow, poky canter but now I know what a better canter feels like so I can work on it :) Then we switched to go in the opposite direction, Katai's tough side, and all hell broke loose. Of course it was an adorable pony sized hell but still. She was fussy and bouncy and wanted nothing to do with bending in the correct direction. I'm sure it was tough and we were asking her to use muscles that she'd not used before so I have no issue with it but it got a little rough and then suddenly I thought she'd bucked but L yelled "let her have a walk break!" and once I'd gotten her slowed down L told me that she'd just done a clean flying change.
Think this ->
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Monday, March 9, 2015
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Friday, March 6, 2015
Katai was not as amazingly wonderful on Wednesday but I think she was a little stiff and sore from the two, fairly intense, rides on Saturday and Monday and just didn’t feel like working. I also found out that one of the horses in her pen was picking on her a bit and chasing her around. He’s been moved now but I’m sure that just made her more tired and ready to just not work very hard. She was less speedy and nervous about the arena but didn’t want to use her haunches for anything, just pull herself around by her front legs and was very on the forehand. She was also crazy about canter again and wanted to just skip the trot entirely.
I worked her through it and got a few nice moments with lots of walk breaks. She got yesterday off and got today off as well. I think it might be good to give her two days in a row off but then I plan on working her Saturday and know that I’ll ride on Sunday so I need to figure out my plan. When I was working with her consistently this summer I was riding Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun. That gave her four rides per week with a couple of breaks in between and seemed to work well. I was thinking about going back to that plan since it works best with my schedule but with the drive time doubled I may give her Wednesdays off as well, for now, and plan on riding three days per week.
On Wednesday I also met a few more people and was happy to be able to meet two other boarders that just got to the barn the day before I moved Katai. They both also have pasture boarded horses and are both dressage riders. They are also around my age which is cool because normally I haven't found fellow riders that meet that description. I also received another recommendation for both Y and another trainer that I'll call L. After hearing a few recommendations for her I decided to set up a lesson and am having my first lesson with her on Sunday! I'm so, so excited to be able to take lessons again. I'm really hoping to find an instructor that understands why I enjoy my pony and encourages me to improve and show, at least occasionally. I hope L is that person :-)
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Let me just say this first,
THE NEW BARN ROCKS!!!!!
This was seriously the best decision I’ve made in a long time and I feel like I’ve found my forever barn. The people are wonderful, there are other dressage peeps, the arena is huge with great footing, and the facilities are top notch without feeling cold and formal.
I had a great ride. Katai was speedy to start out but I feel like I’m starting to change hats from trainer to partner. Instead of feeling like everything she does is wrong and everything I do is right, which is the place of a trainer, I’ve started to add some flexibility and am more willing to accommodate things that aren’t directly related to bad behavior. At first, when she was more green, when she was speedy I felt like it was my responsibility to teach her not to be so speedy. Now, I’m figuring out how she works best and how to keep her relaxed and working as an athlete and a partner and that means that if we’re in a new arena and the only sign that she’s stressed is that she needs to go FORWARD I accommodate while working on other things for a little while.
Last night’s ride went like this.
I barely got my foot in the stirrup and Katai was off. I kept her walking on a loose rein, encouraging her to stretch down, but she was still rushy and fairly tight. After about 7-8 minutes passed I decided that rushy walk, even with lateral work, wasn’t having the intended effect and she was clearly warmed up enough that it was time to trot. I asked for a trot and got a big jump transition and then just held on for a couple of minutes. Usually, when we’re not in a new arena, as soon as she realizes that I’m not going to immediately go to the reins she slows and calms down a bit but she was frazzled last night in the new location (and of course mare went right into heat around the new horses). After a couple of minutes of FORWARD trot I started encouraging her to lower her head and stretch. After a little encouragement she would and then would blow out through her nose a couple of times before getting rushy again.
Wash, rinse, repeat (with a couple walk breaks that included a much better, stretchy relaxed walk).
Eventually, after a couple of changes of direction, she came back to herself enough to be more manageable and I got some really nice trot and walk. She was still a little fast but not as quick and she was relaxing into it with a nice stretch and more blowing as well as starting to listen to my seat. I walked her again for a few minutes so we could both get our breath back (I seriously need to start running again!) and then did some canter in each direction.
She usually does a great job cantering to the left and then swaps leads behind when we go to the right. She just has such a wonderful canter that as long as I get the correct leads in each direction I try not to drill especially with her lack of strength coming out of the last several weeks of light (ie nonexistent) work. I do need to start doing more canter and not just sticking to the 20 meter circle but I’ll increase that slowly as she gets stronger.
So, now that you know all about my ride here are pictures of the new facility! The cell phone pictures are from me and the professional ones were taken by the owners and borrowed by me from their Facebook page :-)
Monday, March 2, 2015
Sunday, March 1, 2015
I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with how many of these are crossed off so far. Of course many of the ones that aren't are more involved but at least I'm making progress.
I do think that once I have my first lesson, or two, that I'll be adding or clarifying some of these goals. At least I hope I'll get some more things to work on!
Goals for Katai:
1. Increase fitness/strength/flexibility
- get chiropractic done at least three times in 2015 – Scheduled one for April 3rd
- get at least three massages in 2015
- start serious fitness training as soon as it's not slippery out to include canter sets
- cross train - add cavaletti by February and small jumps by the end of summer
- add more structured lunging - at least 3-4 times per month
2. Show Pony
- practice with show environments by trailering off property at least five times this year
- show in three dressage schooling shows with at least one at training level
- ride in one two clinics - can be any discipline
- perfect standing tied to the trailer
3. Dressage Skillz
- nicer canter transitions (no more ear pinning and less choppy trotting) by the end of March
- better bend at all gaits to the left
- more understanding of whip cues - not
- listen to outside leg cues – 50% there in February
- understand all three intro tests by the end of April
- begin trying our hoof at training level tests by the end of May
- stay still for mounting – This has actually gone downhill
- gain trail riding experience both by ourselves and with others - get outside and ride trails at least 3-4 times per month
Goals for Me:
1. Increase fitness/strength/flexibility
- find a good yoga class and go at least twice per month
- get regular massages to help with physical things
- run in at least one 5K by the end of April (providing I can find one and the weather isn't too horrible), one 10K by the end of June, and Ragnar (total of about 13 miles) again in the late summer
- lose 15 - 20 more pounds
2. Riding Goals
- learn to weight each seat bone as needed - default to even (I sit much more on the right)
- take regular lessons - at least once per month
- learn to keep my lower leg back on a regular basis
- practice a more proper arm position
- gain miles in the saddle
- ride different horses
3. Show Human
- put together at least one set of show clothes (schooling show appropriate)
- determine which schooling shows to attend and get signed up
- memorize intro tests by the end of May
- find transportation to shows
- get a new job and move to a metro location (more on this in a future post)
- save up and purchase a saddle that fits both of us better – Picked one out and saved about half!!
- Order the saddle by the end of June
- take more and better pictures and videos
- read and review a horse book every month – February Success!
- do a better job of journaling my riding in my blog
- make good turnout a habit (pretend I'm getting ready to ride for George Morris everyday lol)
I'm going to follow up on goals at the end of every month and be ready to adjust at that point, either add more or take some away.