Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Opposite of a Plan

So you guys remember how things went pear-shaped real fast the last time I got on with a plan right?

I've been trying to avoid that lately.  I've been getting on with no plan, telling myself we're going to just fly by the seat of our pants, see where the wind takes us, do what feels right.  

Sometimes that leads to wine and bareback rides.

Sometimes that leads to actual, productive, effective work sessions.  Who knew?

On Tuesday I didn't have time for a long ride because margaritas, but we had a nice, short school, and I worked on getting a quick reaction off my leg.  We did transitions between the gaits and then worked on extensions at the trot and canter.  He was super.  And this had the unplanned bonus of meaning that I don't need to school my extensions anymore this week to prep for my show, which is good, since I felt like they get slightly flat if he begins to expect them and move up before I prepare.

Last night, there were a few people in the outdoor ring so I headed to the indoor, which has no jumps and was empty, in case I decided to run through parts of my tests.  I started off long and low and focused on my posting, pulling my shoulders back with each down-beat.  There's a lovely moment in this video around 0:30 where Laura Graves effortlessly goes from posting to sitting because her posting is so upright, and I tried to keep that image in my head.  I think it might have actually been effective (!) because when I picked up my reins he felt super light and straight in the contact.

Since he felt really good right off the bat, we practiced some leg yields at the beginning of the ride (which I normally don't do).  The left to right was excellent, the right to left only so-so, but got better as I did them throughout the ride. As I worked I randomly added in some of the stuff from my tests, like the reverse turns, centerlines, stretchy circles, and stretchy walks, not in any particular order.

Instead of working on 15 meter circles and extended canter, I did ~ 10 meter circles at the beginning, middle, and end of each longside at the canter.  Always good to keep the big man on his toes.  I could feel him thinking, "well now... this is different, human."  It made the canter much more balanced, kind of squared off his shoulders and forced him to sit up a little so he didn't just travel down the longside with his haunches wherever he felt like putting them. All around a really nice ride, and a nice twilight walk around the fields when we were done.

I've left the haunches-in alone for the past couple of rides because I seem to be pissing him off with them, and I suspect I may be asking incorrectly.  For now I am trying to accomplish the same thing (bringing his haunches in/underneath him) with small circles at the trot and canter, and I'm going to ask for some help with them in my next lesson.

And speaking of lessons, to recap, here are the things I've been working on since my last lesson:

- 10 m circles to the right, bringing girth in without losing bend (check).
- Alignment in right to left leg yield (check).
- Right lead canter transition (improving).
- Haunches-in left (tabled).
- Timing of inside leg in left lead canter transition (better).
- "Revving the engine" without increasing speed or stride length in left canter (check).
- Shorter reins (sometimes).
- Open shoulders (sometimes?).
- Shallow zig-zag leg yield (working on it).
- Shallow canter serpentine (these are actually going better than expected).

Tonight is a day off, Friday is a light hack, and Saturday is a schooling show.  Dress rehearsal for our first USDF show later this month (I'm counting down like it's Christmas).


  1. Sounds like a good, productive ride! Good luck at the schooling show!

  2. sounds like the new 'no-plan' approach is really working well for you guys! hopefully it'll pay dividends at the show this weekend :)

    also - why oh why oh WHY is it so difficult to shorten our reins?? literally every trainer every ride tells me to do it, and yet i still plod along with far-too-long reins.... why???? lol

    1. I like to blame my little T-Rex arms for it. But the horse goes so much better when I shorten them. {{Forehead-smack.}}

    2. Yes I struggle with trex arms too!!! Feels so unnatural to push my hands forward toward the bit but when they're just a hair more forward than what's naturally comfortable for me Pongo goes a million times better. Short girl problems!!!

    3. I'm in the same boat! I actually have to ride with my elbows nearly straight because I'm so short, but it works. But, you know who else rides with straight arms like a T- Rex? Charlotte Dujardin! We're in good company.

  3. Pretty much the only thing I plan in a ride is my choice of cocktail, so I approve! I used to plan everything, but then my plans would always fall through because I found that the horse needed to work on something else. It's almost as if our horses have minds of their own! :)


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