The Archives 11/20/09 – 12/31/09

Tonight, Bali felt great. I initially was just not feeling like riding her, for no reason, but I’d finished Tanq, and decided on her anyway. We decided to do a short loop first, and I was marginally hopeful concerned that the gravel road might give her pause, as she is now barefoot.

She was well behaved in the ring, although we mostly just walked around it twice while idhokie was getting on. Then it was down the aisle to go out the back gate. She felt good, and had a couple of “I could be bad you know” neck wiggles, and she trotted a few steps. Once we were out the gate, I just asked for a trot, and wowza! I need that trot in the dressage ring. She felt great, and when we got to the gravel, she didn’t even bat an eye.

We did most of the loop in a big, extravagant trot that was quite sit-able. Then I did a bit of work in the ring. The counter canter is getting better each time we work with it, she is able to balance and use her shoulders and does not bulge out so much, and the canter/walk/canter transitions just make me smile.

I need to figure out how to get that kind of forward energy all the time!

I forgot to write up a lesson report, and it was good. Now that I’ve gone a few days, let me try to remember the key exercises.

First, a slinky is most excellent forward aid…and a bit of sideways when passing the slinky itself. But, when over the sound system, it is just plain forward, with a bit of bug eyes.

So, once we got done laughing hysterically at Bali’s reaction to the slinky, and no, I do not know why there is a slinky there for Lauren to play with since she said most of her students would kill her, rather than laugh and encourage her if she did that when their horse was spooking sideways…it was on to using that forward.

I heard that slinky a couple more times too, when things were getting sluggish, but we mostly finished tormenting Bali with a slinky.

We did lots of lateral. Shoulder in, which we do not develop. You put them into shoulder in, not take 3-5 steps to develop the correct angle. Haunches in, same.

So, I was able to get one, nice lengthening. That was fabulous, and it was after shoulder in. And, *that* is good to develop at first.

Then, we worked on some overbent leg yield, followed by 2-3 steps of halfpass, using the over-bend in the leg yield to keep a good bend in the half pass. I played with that some, and it was good. Need to keep the haunches coming in the leg yield. Sometimes they fall behind.

Canter work, I don’t remember right now. It was a really good lesson.

With the long weekend from work, much riding has occurred.

Yesterday, we went out on a trail ride, and Bali was being quite good, but she didn’t come back to a walk quite fast enough as we ended a canter and we hit the greased driveway that we cross. I thought we were goners. As in, I was mentally planning how to get out of the way, and how badly we’d be hurt as we wiped out on pavement, when Bali amazingly, pulled her hind legs from behind her body (tar spots on her ankles shows that she was indeed off her feet) and into the classic sliding stop position well under her belly and she saved our asses.

We had an audience. I waved as we continued on our way. She did not feel lame anywhere, so we kept going.

Next discovery was when we were cantering along, I asked for a bit more, and she gave it…she dropped into a true gallop! ;D 😮 ;D I didn’t know she had it in her! I am not sure she knew it either, but she thought that was pretty hot stuff.

Then, after all that, on the way back, we went past these two, fat, fuzzy, muddy QH geldings that were HAAAAWWWT!!!!! She had to strut for them. So, I, in my quest for not shutting down the forward, but channeling the forward, asked for her to round, and whew, we had some seriously suspended trot. It was pretty fabulous. Fabulous enough that I ignored Andi’s fussing with Pico (she came out with us again on Pico) and kept up the fancy trot, until I took pity on Pico and came back to walk so that everyone would walk.

Bali did not go to the lesson today, she was sore at several points in her gluts. And, she got a massage today too. Could have been any of the three that made her muscles sore, or that was the trifecta. We had a very light w/t/c in the field to stay loose, and she went outside.

A friend’s post about his horse’s leads made me remember to post something about my lesson last night.

We started working on straight, some of the same stuff as we were doing on Sparkle, but different exercises.

Leg yielding a zig zag, with a few straight steps in between, without having the neck bent, very telling on where I am are leaning/holding/not releasing as I end up all over the place as I figure out what it is I needed to do to get it.

Then, in canter, we were doing what sounded insanely simple, canter down long side, canter in 2 or 3 steps, straighten, step in, straighten, etc. Uh yeah…not so much. in the 200+ arena length, it was a struggle to get 3 steps in and straight. Hmm, I need to keep my inside leg on, not just use the outside leg…which is because I’ve been using the outside leg to hold the lead in counter canter and that was the beginning of a counter canter loop like in 1-4, and so wait…maybe I should do some canter transitions from seatbone only. So, we backed up, did canter transitions from the seatbone (mostly, I did cheat a tiny bit once or twice and use some leg) and then once those were happening, worked on the stepping in, straight, in, straight, and it was much better.

The slinky is still of the devil. But, I at least know why she has the slinky there…it is a teaching tool…and not to teach you how to deal with a spooking WB.

I like Lendon! I was riding in a semi-private with another student of Lauren’s, we see each other most Tuesday nights when I have my lesson.

I was able to watch the last half of Lauren’s lesson on Ella and her mom’s lesson on Cleo (Lauren’s GP horse), then went to get ready during the lesson before mine. I had dirty tack to clean, and boots to polish, and needed to get focused. Lendon has a reputation for being tough and not wanting to ask for the same thing over and over again.

Style is important, because in case you suck, you should look good while you suck! So, red polos (idhokie bought me some!), red pad, red turtle neck and black vest. Well, and I’m 12. I never got to do pony club or anything, so I make up for it now. ;D

We started out with a short introduction, then on to the actual riding.

Bending inside, Bali resists a bit and so we worked on overbending a bit, and a new technique to ask for bend, but not let her bring her chin towards her chest. She tilts her head over, but does not actually bend well, especially left, and so I was to bring my hand up, ask for the inside bend/flexion, and when she drops her head, I would use a short, upward correction on the rein to bring her head up. We did this some at the walk, then again at the trot. During this part, Lendon said “I want to see you overbent, I’ll get mad later that you are overbent, but now, I want overbent!” So, I kept that in mind. But, at the same time, Lendon was quick to point out that you cannot just drill the horse on the same thing, so give it a break once the horse is doing what you ask. So, it did not take long before I was told to stop asking for so much bend on Bali.

On to canter. I have a tendency to try to protect my lower back from impact, and tighten it and stand in my stirrups a bit. So, since I mentioned I also want to do some jumpers, Lendon saw my “jumper” tendencies…which I did not bother to correct and whine about my back issues…I let her blame it on jumper leg…and yes, Michael tries to fix that same thing. Bring the @#$#@ lower leg back, and quit jamming it forward. Anyway, I came to a halt, she adjusted it back a bit, and I worked on keeping it back, soft and absorbing, then also, not locking my lower back, but following the motion, staying fluid in my hips. It does make the canter nicer, I need to work on that, and Bali is not hard on my back, so I just need to loosen up.

We worked on some lengthenings in the canter, lengthen, come back, lengthen, and making it fluid. I need to get the video on a bigger screen, because I don’t see a lot of difference on the tiny screen, but I felt like there was some difference.

Lendon does not like to use “seat” in her instruction too much, more “use your back”. This seems to be helpful for a lot of people.

In an effort to correct the common habit of using too much inside rein, I’ve gotten to the point of dropping my inside rein. All.the.time. Well, for this, Lendon says “anything you do, you must be able to not do”. 😛

While asking for bend, I was caught holding the inside rein. “I was asking you for some inside bend, but that doesn’t mean you hold it, you don’t hold nothing”.

At the end, I let her stretch down and let her be as crooked as she wanted. No straightening on my part.

“There is a time you let her go her way, one reason, it lets you analyze what she does herself, what does she do when you leave her alone?, next, as time goes on, it tells you if she is getting stronger. ”

Virginia had a bit of a different lesson and Lendon was very good at teaching two people at once.

Due to the dicey weather prediction for tomorrow, I was able to snag the last stall for Bali, so she is spending the night. I am not worried about driving down with the truck in snow/sleet, but hauling is a different story, so I was able to leave her. Much less stress for tomorrow.

I have video, and will see about posting a few clips.

Day 2, a bit late.

We started out and she asked what we wanted to do, which I wasn’t prepared for, so I said “reinforce the things we worked on yesterday” and then I added my standby…”canter walk canter transitions and maybe flying changes”.

So, to start we were told to pick up our best trot, Bali was quite accomodating and moving quite nicely. I started out in circles, working on keeping that inside bend Lendon had asked for day 1. Then, after a couple of circles, I was told to abandon the circle and use the entire ring. We went to canter after some work with Virginia, and I circled at the far end, and was rapidly chastised for circling. She called a moratorium on circles for me….well, except for voltes.

I worked on volte, keeping my hips soft and supple. The horse needs to bend as much as the circle is bent. Inside leg at the girth. I was doing voltes as we went down the long side, and working on keeping a nice canter and soft hips, and not losing forward in the voltes. “A little rounder, and gently with the bit”.

Then, I got “Mel this is lovely and pleasant and would be perfect if she were 3 coming 4, this is insufficient for 5 coming 6”.

Back to the trot, and then I was instructed to play with making her deeper and longer and placing her where I wanted her. Then a bit more canter again.

Virginia got “it is easier this way, right?” and when Virginia agreed, she said “now why aren’t you going the other way?”.

I did some lengthening…most lackluster on the first lengthening. Then, rounder in the lengthenings.

After a walk break, we went back to trot, at which point I got busted for allowing her to come above the bit in the transition, so I had to repeat it. Then from trot, it was trot/halt/trot transitions. Some were too much walking. I was conveniently RIGHT in front of the camera when she chastised me for “look at how much you just moved your leg” in a halt-trot transition and that I should just keep my leg more on.

Then we did some trot to reinback to trot….and TROT no lagging. No standing still. Did this a few times, working on a quicker reaction. Working to get the halt not downhill, but with her weight shifting back.

Then to canter again. A tiny bit rounder, not tighter/shorter reins, rounder. Volte and shorter canter, then another volte to a walk. Did that again, then a turn on the haunches to reverse, where I was not performing any halfhalt, so it was awful, and we just ignored it for the moment. Then I worked on the same the other direction again, then took a walk break while Virginia had some shoulder-in lecture, which is quite good on the video.

Then, I went to medium walk, and we went to that turn on the haunches. “the most important part of the turn on the haunches is shortening the walk just before the turn, so that you can ride the horse forward into the turn. A little whoa, but don’t halt, a bit of whoa, turn, whoa, left rein turns” And my turn was too big, but it was a good effort, nothing incorrect in what we were doing, just need to develop it.

Then it was onto the flying changes. Get the canter more together, then, on a long diagonal, The first change, she switched behind for 2 strides, I gave a half halt, she switched back, then switched in front then fell out of the canter. So, we tried again, and it was early behind but I let her trot again. Then it was just late behind, and then I worked on keeping a straight line, had a good start, I gave it up. She wanted to see some whoa-change. Still late behind. I took a walk break and Lendon did some lecture on hands at the canter, how they need to move, by bending the elbows so you aren’t pulling on the horse as you canter, she was showing Virginia w/ her reins. One last try on the flying change. I was to come down the center line doing the change towards the short end of the ring. Get her pulling on me a bit, so I have to half halt. That last one was late behind, but we stopped.

Then came the best part, some flying change lecture.

What is the canter aid? I said outside leg back. But, is it one movement or two. Do I bring my leg back, then ask, or is it one movement? I had to think about it by cantering and said “it is almost 2 movements”, and that was the right answer! Whew!

For flying changes, your leg aid needs to be two separate movements. Also, “smooth” has nothing to do with how good a change is. The reason flying changes are so difficult is that it is the one thing that do with a horse that is one instant. You can’t do a little bit of flying change.

You need good timing, so not just the two part aid, but when you use the aid. Usually you are cantering 1-2-3 and aid for more forward is on 1, but for the flying change, you need to ask on 3. You’d go along and when straight, you’d bring your new leg back, but then you might wait a stride or two “and change” when it is a good moment. So, at this point I asked her to watch me canter and say “now” for a few strides on the point of the canter I’d ask. So that I could get a feel for the correct moment.

At the end, she likes to think of a horse who changes “late behind” as “early in front” because you want to prevent the early in front.

Bali had good instincts in the first two, and I need more half halt in the canter, and that will make them come easier.

Most excellent lesson and holy crap, I just stayed up way late watching my lesson on the camera while I typed this up! Soon I’ll see if I can figure out getting some video loaded to youtube.

First off, a major shout-out to Liz! She got me this bonus lesson with Kevin Babington with my CANTER auction winnings of her xrays.

As was written in the other thread, I pretty much unloaded after the 4+ hour haul, Liz helped me get Bali tacked up while she screamed for her BEST FRIENDS on the trailer, and we went to work.

The indoor is busy!!! I lucked out for a few minutes between sets and had it to myself for a few. Bali was a bit up and squirrel-y, and when Kevin came in he suggested we lunge her. I agreed, but she is Bali and was unimpressive on the lunge, so it was back on after about 10 trot circles one way.

Kevin noticed that Bali is not a horse who can really go hollow. She is a round build and so most of my work is to get her poll up to rock her back and balance her. And, a glimmer from Bert Mutch lessons a dozen+ years ago, he had me lifting my hands. A LOT. to use the bit on the corners of her mouth, not the bars, to lift. As I worked on this, it started to work, and he noticed she falls in onto her left shoulder. So, a wide, opening right rein and moving the left rein over to move the shoulders out, but not changing to right bend (as I initially was doing as I wasn’t quite understanding what he wanted), so once I understood the goal, I got better at using the technique.

Balance the canter was what I’d consider the central theme. Feel the balance was something he said a lot, and that really resonated with me and let me focus on FEEL, instead of DOING. So, when I focused on feeling what Bali was doing, feeling the balance, and not worrying about changing something, it got nicer and nicer.

Kevin also noticed my left leg/side is weaker. Nailed…I do know this, and try to work hard to make up for the weakness, but it is neurological in my case, a minor inconvenience though, but he gave me something to think about from the hips up, to help, which is PERFECT. Since all the weakness/sensation loss is in the lower leg, working on using the hips and upper body to stabilize is going to be a lot more successful I think. So, after we land, and work to move forward into a right turn, I was to think of stretching up the left side and sitting down in that left hip.

Kevin also moved my lower leg more forward and recommended even LONGER spurs on Bali, given where my leg hits her round ball self, or trying to drop my stirrups a couple of holes, but then I’d have way too long stirrups again. Where Kevin wanted my leg was much like where Denny wants my leg, so I’m double bummed that I don’t get the Denny reinforcement of that leg position over the fences because Clifford is sick.

Then, last bit on my jumping position was needing to keep my seat back over my lower leg. Also very much like Denny says.

My jumping position felt very secure and with the balance we’d created, the jumps just flowed. A couple of deep spots, but nothing horrible.

Oh, after we’d started cantering cavalletti on her, Kevin did get on her to feel what I was feeling. He noticed she tends to fall behind my leg (and at her age, he wasn’t too surprised) and he commented immediately upon how incredibly wide she is and that the saddle tends to slip right…especially given how loose I tend to leave my girth. He snugged it up a couple of holes tighter than I ever get it, which was fine, and he commented that I obviously am pretty balanced.

I’d go ride with him again in a heartbeat, and may try to organize a clinic down here with him. He suggested that as an alternative to my wondering about going up someday for a 3 day weekend/training sort of thing.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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