Saturday, 2 May 2015

One More Time/Lesson Recap

I know a lot of us out there struggle with getting down on ourselves and our riding. Horses can be tough, and the industry surrounding them even tougher.

Shout out to Grain Before Groceries for her wonderful post on dealing with fear and confidence issues. She linked to another post which really hit home for me. If you're dealing with, or have ever dealt with anxiety and self doubt in your riding, I'd totally recommend reading it. I think "Always one more time" might be my new mantra when the going gets tough.

Feel free to get lost in the above linked sites, the rest of my post today is just a nerdy in depth lesson recap. Nothing to see here, move along. :)



Shiny ponies!


Bridget showed up with her 'not playing this game' face on. So we had an inverted, pushy, quick, and uncooperative pony. The good part? I got to see how S handles that! I'll recap the two recent clinicians quickly as well so we can compare:

Dressage lady: To sum it up: MORE. Take that energy and make her work. More contact, more forward, more off the leg, more balanced. Result: Brilliance in the moment, but eventually pony shut down and refused to play anymore. I will save her ideas for show situations where addressing the issue directly isn't an option.

Cowboy: Take away her power. No outside rein, minimal contact on inside. Circles, lots of them, smaller/larger to regulate speed as needed, focusing on pony tuning into my legs and seat and relaxing into self carriage. Result: It worked, and I liked how non confrontational it was. but pony is fit and it took almost an hour of trot to get there with any sort of regularity. Sidenote: since it was the first time using that exercise there is a good chance she might 'give up' sooner if I made it a regular part of our warm up. Or learn to evade me by popping out through my leg ;)
Ginger wonders why Bridget must always be the rebel

S: A happy medium. Keep your outside rein, ride inside leg to outside rein, but use circles to your advantage. Leg on, make her work, but supple her left and right. Reward good behaviour and focus by letting her trot out and forward down the long side. Lots and lots of transitions to halt, and back  up when she gets heavy in my hand or on my leg. Results: The winner, although I may alternate with cowboy program to prevent a backslide from too much nagging and too many downward transitions getting her thinking backwards again.
Lesson set up like so to start and then we raised the poles before and after the cross rail on the center line, canter poles on the long side...scroll down for a drawing of layout and pattern we rode

The rest of our lesson involved a simple gymnastic on the center line, and two canter poles set a stride apart on each long side. Bridget got super excited by that, so we spent a bit of time trotting the center line gymnastic, then halting and backing at the fence, then doing a 180 degree  turn on the haunches and trotting back out over the centerline gymnastic again. I liked this exercise because it got her nicely balanced and thinking. Once she settled in and stopped attempting to rush, we added a leg yield to the wall after the center, then circle at a trot and up the center again. Finally we ended by going over the centerline gymnastic, leg yielding to the wall, then cantering large around the ring utilizing our canter poles on the long sides. S kept it real by setting them slightly long for Bridget, then shortening them up. This is all in an effort to teach her she can have an adjustable canter. It totally messed her up at first,but she is smart and I felt like she was getting the idea by the end of the ride. It will be many hours of building the strength before we have a respectable canter, but the pieces are slowly falling into place.



15 comments:

  1. It sounds like Bridget is a lot like Suzie - you can't *really* get after them. You have to make them work against THEMSELVES. Circles are a great exercise!

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    1. Exactly! The only time I get into trouble is when I let her pick a fight with me. Non confrontational, working against herself is where it's at. Circles and spirals are currently my friends...I suspect for a very long time lol :)

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    2. You'll get there. Suzie was exactly the same way when I first got her - if you pick a fight with her she WILL get back at you. It took me a long time to figure out her buttons and how I can push her.

      I don't know if this will help you, but spending a lot more time on things like leg yielding, circles, serpentines, etc are where it was at with Suz. It was almost like if you gave her room to think, she'd be twelve steps ahead of you!

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    3. Yep, you've nailed it, a busy pony is a good pony! Leg yields, circles, spirals, haunches in, shoulder in, squares, all part of our daily rides...I guess I should mention them but it gets so repetitive and boring to talk about it over and over. Thanks for the moral support and excellent suggestions :)

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  2. It's interesting how different each trainer is, but what works all depends on the horse's personality. With some horses you have to get after them, but with others you have to use the cowboy's method, or a little bit of both. When I leased a hot chestnut Thoroughbred/Percheron last summer, I had to loosen the reins a bit when he got to frustrated and a little out of hand. He didn't have a whole lot of training(he wasn't green; he just wasn't trained to accept contact to well and go on the bit).Tight contact and using more would only irritate him.

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    1. I think it's so interesting they all are addressing the same pony in the same mood in the same general timeframe - proof as always there are many ways to get there...but also a reminder that I need to think about what suits us best as well and figure out what to take home and keep using.

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  3. it's great that you're able to glean different tools from each trainer for situation-specific uses, very clever! i also love all the exclamation points in your course sketch :)

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    1. Ha, I hadn't noticed the excess exclamation points - although they perfectly match the parts of the ride where I have to be extra enthusiastic in order to keep Bridget motivated and thinking we're having fun. Go Bridget!!!!1!!!!! lol

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  4. I will be stealing that exercise! Sounds like you have a nice ying-yang coaching situation happening. :)

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    1. It's been great, but I think I'm going to back off from the clinics for a bit...so much $$$ when I'm perfectly happy with S's weekly lessons :)

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  5. Love how you've so many different approaches to draw from and keep what works for you & file away the rest for whenever or never ;-)
    Going to go back and read those earlier links now ☺

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    1. Even though the regular audience is now convinced she's a horrible little thing, it's been kind of neat that Bridget has showed up with the same angry mare face each time....neat to get so many different perspectives :)

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    2. I always prefer they act like pills when I've educated eyes on the ground to talk me through options then trying to figure them out on my own all the time. Different approaches and tools.are always handy to have as well you know better than me.

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  6. Thanks for the links on fear/anxiety! I found those helpful<3

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    1. You're welcome, glad you enjoyed them!

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