The Archives 6/9/08 – 7/22/08 Kottas Clinic Report

6/9/08
Sparkle is great for learning on, and she is very steady in what she does. But, I can probably learn a lot of that at local shows, not spend the bucks on the licensed shows. Although, a handful of recognized is good because not many schooling shows have that setup.

I do need to scribe a few times as well. For different judges.

Rounder is the new theme…for this week at least. I have to admit that the piles of ribbons in the trailer from all the hunter shows was a slight salve to the bad-score wounds. Even if I still don’t get that judging all the time, I’m getting closer to attaining it!

6/18/08
I am remiss in my posting.

I went and took a lesson on Thursday and Sparkle was a good girl and I so should have done this BEFORE the show! We worked on getting her looser through the topline and better bend. She is nicely forward and has a quiet mouth, but has some sly evasions to not bend laterally.

Overall, it was a nice lesson, we worked on bend, in the canter not too much bend, in the trot, some counterbend, doing a 3 loop serpentine maintaining bend. We worked on the 1-4 counter-canter loop by making it itsy bitsy in the amount of loop. Then, we did a few squared corners at the canter.

This was my first lesson with a new lady, and I like her. My neighbor hauls down to her, has room in her trailer (and a company gas card), and so we are riding with her to weekly lessons.

Last night, I took Bali, and mentioned that I wished I’d gotten my lessons started BEFORE the Morven show, and Lauren said “luckily, that is not the last dressage show”. I had to laugh. She was quite right.

So, Sparkle does not have the energy she did have…before I cut the fat out of her diet. She is looking better, but that is probably related to being inside all day with a very, small hay portion. So, I think I’ll try putting the fat back in (really, not a huge amount, 2 cups rice bran).

She is also not recovering well in the heat. For now, I’m just going to focus on a couple of weeks of cardio sets and see if that helps. If that and some diet tweaks don’t help, we’ll pull blood and start looking for other reasons.

Anyway, tonight, I rode her and we jumped again. She seems to really enjoy it now! Wheee! She also has some serious issues with my love for the long spot. I see a long spot, I say “let’s just go here” and she says “WTF?! Are you crazy? I will be adding a stride, even if I have to skid into it!” So, after 2 hideous fences where I was all “long spot, go!”, I realized that perhaps, we should agree on an approach, and I decided to ride for the base. She was quite happy. So, the only concern at the end was that she was tired, and seemingly a bit prematurely. But, not huffing and puffing and she does not use the jumping muscles that often, not for jumping, poor chubby girl, she likely just needs a more stringent workout schedule.

Soon, Sparkle might just have to hit a hunter show. She is cute!

7/17/08
Sparkle & I have been doing the riding equivalent of cramming this past week or two. We leave for Kottas early in the morning.

Sparkle is just overall better with the rice bran (fat) in her diet, so while it is only a cup, I’m leaving it in. I might break down and try oil.

Last night, I had another lessons with Lauren on Sparkle. It was good, we continued working on lifting the base of the neck and increasing her longitudinal flexion, she tends to lock a bit at the base of the neck and right behind the saddle…getting a bit frantic in her movement when she starts to engage those muscles. Lauren noticed that a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been working on that, and it is getting better already.

When we got to the canter, we did this exercise where I was targeting an 8m or so circle around Lauren, she had a piaffe whip, and I was walking, then canter 3 strides, back to walk…walk until she chilled, canter 3 strides, walk….Of course, Sparkle took issue with the ground person enforcing forward, so she decided she’d use that as sideways….which made holding an 8m circle…well, nearly impossible for me. After a few of those, it was walk, canter, spiral out, then come back to a trot circle and encourage stretch down and out.

It was fun. Sparkle is having a day of rest today, and I’m worrying about details like polishing my boots, getting her bit moved to the leather bridle, basically BNT clinic ready, aka, show ready less coat for us.

This clinic is going to be my last big outting this year I think….we’ll still hit some local shows (hunter and dressage) but lacrosse has killed my budget and if I do more, I’ll have to use savings and I don’t want to do that. I’d rather use my $$ for more lessons…and well, Medhi is close enough to be in the lesson category…and it is local, so not as pricey as this clinic.

7/21/08
Arthur Kottas clinic report from Ashanti Farm, Gordonsville, VA
Friday, July 18, 2008. Day 1

Got up and left the farm at 6:30am. Nervous is an understatement! Ugh..I hate it when my stomach is that fluttery.

I arrived around 8:40am. Parked, unloaded Sparkle and used one of their Kubota ATVs to go get all my stuff to the barn. I was settled in and watching by the 2nd lesson, a Fresian being ridden by a lady from Blacksburg, VA.

I watched 4 lessons in the morning, and started to relax. Kottas was not unkind in his teaching. Honest about shortcomings, but not unkind, at least not IMO.

I’ll let Jeannette report on Larry, but OMG, they had one medium trot that was fantastic in that lesson…just a teaser.

Since I watched 4 lessons, and in every one, he wanted the horses more through in their backs, and longer in the neck, I decided to focus on seeing how relaxed and low I could get Sparkle in my warm up (I only warmed up for about 15 minutes, wanting to save my pony for the lesson), and then I started.

The exact order of this might not be exact, it was a TON of information crammed into a short, 40 minute period.

He still wanted more over the topline, but with Sparkle, a shorter outline. More collected, but not shortening the neck. We did some initial w/t/c and I needed more bend….a LOT more bend. Always. So, that was the hardest part to maintain all weekend, that bend. Abe (another rider) commented that Sparkle did not look like an easy horse to bend.

Another correction he made, I no longer was maintaining the correct inside/outside leg position. So, he explained the outside leg is back, the inside leg is forward, and when you change directions, seat, weight, legs and reins all change to the new direction. Since I’d actually gotten that in other clinics in the past, and struggled with it long ago, it was not terribly hard to keep that correction all weekend, without nagging!

Then, we go down and on the short side, 2nd quarterline, I am to do a half walk pirouhette. Now, I’ve never done this, never been asked, never been taught the aids. But, I know it is approximately like a TOH, and I try….badly. Try again….just as bad. “Stop, come here” is my instruction.

“How do you ride a half walk pirouhette?” says Kottas
I answer, after a brief pause, “Uh, I don’t know, I have never ridden one.”
He was incredulous, but then asked the audience, “how do you ride half walk pirouhette?”

After heading down the row, finally, David, another rider in the clinic answers….(paraphrasing here), “For this horse, you should do it on the rail. Say for the right, Take the haunches in with the left leg back, half halt on the left rein, and move the forelegs over to the right.”

I nod, “I can try that”…and off I go. Well, I needed more haunches in. So, we went to a small half circle (3-4m), then half-pass right to get back to the rail.

Next, we trotted some more, did some leg yield both directions, keeping forward and sideways, not overbending the neck. That got “good” and “better” for the most part. A few corrections of course on keeping her straighter, keeping the hindquarters over, or the shoulders.

Shoulder ins were done, at walk and trot. Then, we were asked to trot half pass from the quarter line to the rail…both ways. Then I think we did center line to rail, but hope this is in the video (at least audible). Or Squill has most of the exercises jotted down in her notes from my ride.

Then, in canter, we cantered along, change rein across the diagaonal…and maintain counter canter! Ack, glad I’d been working on counter canter. Then, he had us canter half pass from center line to rail and maintain counter canter, the a trot transition a B or E usually.

We tossed in a couple of attempts at medium trot, where I got “you are like a little kid on a pony, just going faster, not longer” #gallopin# And he did say that Sparkle probably doesn’t have a lot to give in mediums, but that we can get a lot more than we are.

Overall, he wants more collection and thrust from Sparkle

day 2 & 3 coming soon.

It was seriously hard! I said I was first level, working on 2nd. Seriously, the guy who brought the Intermediare I horse did less on day one (way more on days 2 & 3 though) and I truly figured I might only be doing w/t, because if the people who brought 3/4 and I1 level horses did w/t/c stretch over topline, what is a little QH/App going to do to keep up!?!

I was actually nervous watching the other riders and seeing their horses and level on the daily schedule, that I had overstated my level.

Day 2, July 19.

Not so nervous for this lesson. I was all focused and they had to send someone up to the indoor for me at 1pm (start time) as my 15 minutes had flown past while I was warming up.

So, I came in and we picked up with gettng more bend. I really enjoyed Kottas style, he would call out what you were to do at upcoming letters and then he would instruct through the movement.

We again did a fair amount of work on correct lateral work, worked on the halt some, the transitions. A fairly constant was that he wants to see Sparkle more steady in her outline. She was staying fairly nice over the topline and we added in more small circles in canter. He had me cantering the full arena, and then as we came down the longside, 10m circle at S, then 8m circle at E, then again…I was grinning in those 8m canter circles, because really, I was thinking to myself, we are so not going to get an 8m canter circle…no way…but she did! I was laughing, and we did the same on the other lead. Me still grinning, because well….I was having fun. We did shallow serpentine loops, 2 loops, decrease then increase circle. Haunches in and more bend were constant reminders.

As we were finishing up, with stretching out in trot (he says to always finish every ride this way, even jumping rides), someone asked something and I didn’t hear. But, I heard him say “I don’t know what this girl wants to do with this horse”, so I went over that way to hear. But, the discussion was about how Sparkle is not a WB mover, will never have those gaits, but she can still be trained to the best of her ability, so long as her rider is not trying to get her to do something she cannot. I said that I’d like to perhaps get to 3rd level on her, and Kottas thought about 3rd level and said “hmm, flying changes, we’ll have to see next time”. Then, he did almost make me cry, he said that I was doing a nice job with my horse! I asked one of the auditors what had been asked later and she said David (of the walk p. intructions) had asked if Arthur would do anything differently in training her because she paddles. And, somehow that got into how she would do in competition (not so great…although, Bruno thinks we could get respectable scores in the mid-60s eventually once she develops more sit….like “when she learns passage” more sit). I’m not holding my breath, but we have homework and some positive encouragement. Oh, Bruno, very cute and charming in person, even before he said nice things about my pony. David, was getting mean thoughts from me for dissing my pony (I kid, it was an conformation related question).

Of course, then my inner-rider insecurities kicked in later, and I started to think “maybe it was obvious I’ll never be a big time rider on a big time horse so he was being nice” but really, I think that I’ve eliminated that thought, and I’m going to be all proud and say “Kottas said I’m doing a nice job with my horse!”

I’ll be needing my notes to finish up, because all the days are starting to blend in my mind. There was much repetition of the same theme and concept, seat, weight, legs, reins, when to repeat. We did more half pass on day two (huge for me, I’ve struggled with moving into the bend….leg yield…check….half pass….not so much).

At the end of the day, they did some extra stuff. Bruno Greber came out with Amidala (their *very* nice mare who is just moving into FEI levels) and they did a session where Kottas called out a movement, Bruno rode it, we all judged it. They had moved all the chairs to the short side at A, and left pen and a pad of paper in each chair.

Then, Kottas would ask what the score was 6, 7, 8? We’d raise hands, offer why, then he would give his score, and tell us why. That was seriously educational.

One of the riders then rode a Kur on a fresian she was riding. That was fun. Then we ate too much Mexican food and I went to my friend’s house and collapsed! Oh, small sidenote. Nilla, LWP, Little White Pony, is fat and happy, but not really ridable for her new owner. She gets worried and rubs her face a lot, so they gave up and she is a pet.

Note: Oh, Be it right or wrong, I gave Sparkle a gram of bute in the morning on all 3 days. I figured that she’d be working hard and I know I was wanting something.

Also, I did give her a shot of Adequan on Thursday morning.

Between those two things, she felt really good. Obviously, bute is not good for normal, daily use, but I wanted her to not feel stiff for the clinic.

Kottas also said that she has a very intelligent eye. She is obviously a smart horse and a fast learner. I love my Sparkle pony….We have no photographs. I am sad over that :(.

Day 3: My notes are non-existent. I was hot, tired and just watching.

But, our ride included less lateral work, although we did the walk p. a couple of times. We were doing 10m canter circles and at one point, Sparkle was just falling apart, and I seemed incapable of getting the canter put together, so our 10m circle at S was rough and a 12m egg. So, Kottas had us stop, we talked about how a 10m circle is a 10m circle, and that gave Sparkle a break, and we picked up the canter and did 2 lovely 10m circles. ‘

Some other notes from my rides, general notes:
Keep hands down
do not bring head up in downward transitions
inside leg more at girth/forward.
outside leg back
change seat, legs & rein when change of direction.
Keep inside bend -> more bend
saddle shifts left, shift right & tighten girth

leg yield, quarter line first, then center line (to rail)
shoulder in down long side, do not overbend, keep 3 tracks.
keep hands down
trot half pass – more forward and sideways, shoulder fore.
canter half pass to counter canter, full arena, collect canter, to trot transition. collect the canter first.
-when asked about the counter canter for collection on full arena work, Kottas said this helps straighten the horse.
softer hands, more giving

medium trot – more seat and leg, keep hands down. when sitting it, keep leg long and down. I drew it up when attempting a medium.

shoulder in – keep inside leg forward.

When Larry went against the L leg, he had J halt, bend left and TOF, 1/2 circle, repeat. No right leg during this exercise (I did this too on day 3 when sparkle went against my leg).

For medium trot, use leg longer, not quicker.

Don’t use your hands like a hand brake.

A horse a bit dry in the mouth means he is not engaged

Always be fair to your horse.

Short is not collected, quick is not lengthened

If the horse is holding the back, use a little lower leg before doing anything w/ the hands.

the correct seat is the key to good riding.

Do not destroy the natural movement when working towards collection. He sees many young horses w/ 8-9 movement who after years of training, they have learned the tricks & movements, but their movement is now a 5.

The horse will tell us how fast we can train. Take you time, but don’t waste time.

During a young horse ride, on long side, lighter seat and more forward, sit around the short sides (this was during canter).

legs and seat, then hands, or seat and legs, then hands.

Lots of serpentines for change of bend. starting with one loop to quarterline down long side, then 2 loops to quarter line down long side. then 4 loop serpentines, using entire arena. (4 15m loops).

halt young horses often. Keep round in halt, make them short holding periods.

Are you the rider ready before you get onto the horse. Have you stretched, are you mentally prepared. You should feel better after a ride than before a ride, more supple.

In training, the poll is not always the highest point.

Go back to preparation, basics to fix the problems at the more complicated movements.

The better the horse is trained, the less warmup is needed. Don’t wear your horse out in warmup.

Use exercises to make it easy for the horse.

Watching him work Amidala in hand, was a lesson in knowing how little to ask. He asked for very few steps at a time (piaffe work mostly) and when she was excellent on the left, they did not repeat on the right. Why get into a place where you have to keep working when the horse has done what you wanted.

Lots of flying changes, which was great for me to see. Kottas feels that most people use too much inside leg and this blocks the change. He feels that the inside leg should be passive during f.c. One lady said that she always uses inside leg, and he did mention some of her issues, but also acknowledged that there are many roads to Rome.

Later, we went and watched one of his training videos, Bruno had it in his house, and Kottas was riding a horse and in this video had the straightest flying changes I’ve ever seen. Even the one tempis.

I asked how many steps after walk pirouhette before you change the bend, and it is pretty much 2…maybe 3. You finish the w.p. and are on the rail, then straight a step, then new inside bend.

LOVED the clinic. So much information to absorb. I am totally saving money to go ride w/ him again.

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About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
This entry was posted in Clinic Report, Riding, Sparkle. Bookmark the permalink.

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