Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dressage Epiphany!

What an amazing ride today!!!

It was one of those rides where I can't believe that I've been this confused for this long, but at least I've gotten it figured out now. Sigh. But I'm so glad I did. Dan felt amazing today!!!

So... before we even got started I sort of had an epiphany on my own but during my ride, Cindy confirmed and solidified my thoughts. In an effort to "open my hips" I was trying to OPEN my hips but rolling my knees out. In my brain, this was opening my hip joints. However, what I was doing was then popping my knees and toes out, digging in with my heel and not my entire leg and digging my butt bones into Dans' back. (And Fleck's too for that matter). I was talking to a massage therapist in passing and he mentioned that I do stretches where I rotate my hips in the socket by internally rotating my thighs and then externally rotating. While doing this I felt that by turning my thighs in, it helped bring my toes in too and moved my leg in a way that would probably create better contact with a horse rather than just using my toe. So... I've been working on it off the horses and thought it would be worth trying on the horse. 

Well, as soon as I got on Cindy had a new "gadget" for me to try. She handed me two fist sized rubber balls and we put them under my seat bones. It was awkward at first because you were sitting way up above your horse. But it was amazing what those darn balls did. They sort of forced my pelvis to shift in a way that made it even easier to "rotate my thighs inward" which actually does open up my pelvis and hips. It just does it in a different direction, which makes more sense with how it needs to be when riding. Then because the balls sort of tip you forward, you have to really lift your pelvis floor and use your core to avoid tipping forward and having the balls squirt out behind you. It was awkward at first, but then.... ooooohhhh... that's the magic seat! 

So... what *I* need to do to get a proper dressage seat is to think about rolling my thighs in, opening my hips out in a down and back direction, lifting my pubic floor and then ultimately softening my hip bones/seat. 

And when I did... WOW! Danny felt amazing. We got some of the nicest trot and canters it seems. That canter... he was straight and let go with his neck so he just hung and floated. It felt beautiful! 

So after we played around with the balls a bit at the walk, we did some work without them and focused on the trot. I need to remember to keep contact on that outside rein, especially tracking left. I need to keep trying to get back to that seat... 

Then we put the "Balls" back in for my canter work and while it was tough, it was helpful. I still have a much easier time with the left lead canter as far as my position and keeping Dan round on the outside rein. But we managed to get a fairly decent canter both ways. Then Cindy took my "balls" away and had me canter again. Tougher without the balls, but I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it. Phew!!

But yep... overall a very amazing ride. So educational for me, but Danny felt like a million bucks too! He was lifting his back and moving quite well, especially in his slightly too narrow saddle. :) Such a good kid! I cant wait til our next show.

Sunday Quicky

 Today was a little bit of a wonky ride because of my timing with life and everything. Liz stopped by to see the barn on her way home from the horse park so we took the tour and worked on Fleck a bit. Which meant that by the time I got to Ashland, Kelli was mostly done with her ride. She had to get home fairly soon, so we went for a short hack. It was fun. Danny was good. On the way back up I hopped him over a few fences. 

He was really good but I really do need to focus on getting him rocked back and using his haunches and not just galloping towards the fences. He's so big strided that I don't quite realize how fast he's going nor how long his stride has gotten. We did the two novice skinny coops on a 3 stride. The first time through he actually sort of his the first one deep and underpowered so the out ended up being quite long. We tried again and jumped much bolder in. Too bold! Because then we ended up with a 2.5 stride line and the out was ugly. So then we tried again and ended up with a fairly nice 3 stride. Sure, it was tight, but it was much more balanced and easily dealt with. 

So yay! What a good boy. Then we headed back and I untacked because I needed to adjust Arwyn and Kelli had to head home. After that I still wanted to ride, so.. .we put the dressage tack on and went back in the ring. 

It wasn't an amazing ride, but it wasn't bad. Especially considering at that point neither of us was entirely convinced we were in the mood. But he was a good boy and we had fun. 

hack with kelli, then got back on for a quick flat ride

Saturday Fun Ride

So Saturday was Mike day, but.... since we finished early enough, I got to go play. I ended up taking both ponies to Ashland and while I didn't really have a time frame, I did want to not spend ALL night out riding ponies. Well, okay... I wouldn't have minded but I'm working on being a better wife so I knew i needed to spend some time with Mike. 

I hopped on Dan first and we had a nice long hack in the woods. We finished up by the XC field so I decided to take him over a little course. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fun Night

Got home in time to sneak one in. 

Took a few minutes to hack out and then went to the ring and did some dressage. He was really good!! We actually did great leg yields both directions, held the counter canter to the right every time!!! (although we did still keep it very shallow). We did some 15 meter working trot circles to 20 meter trot lengthen circles. :) :) We trotted to centerline and halted. He was great!!!

Then we went for a quick hack to try to catch the sunset, but it was too cloudy. 


The Perfection Monoflap!

Ooooh, I LOVE this saddle!!

We rode in Cindy's first and Dan put on his fancy pants and was great. Then we went for a quick hack while we waited for Cindy to arrive with the monoflap. It was the exact same saddle minus the extra inch in the gullet and a monoflap. It was awesome!! It really feels like you are riding bareback but with a comfy seat.


So I ordered one. :) I've been waiting for ages to get Dan a dressage saddle and I'm so glad I did because now he gets the monoflap. :)

Now to decide what color.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Enthusiasm Overload

Well that was a fun day!!

We met up with Kelli and had a fun time jumping. Danny was good. Quite good. We went through the grid a few times so I could work on me and straightness. Kelli said I looked pretty good but I still felt pretty wonky. But attempting to fix it. We even worked on our counter canter again. I can get him to hold it if I almost leg yield him instead of actually counter cantering. But... it's a start. Especially for the baby horse.

So then Judy met up with us and we headed out for a quick trip to the lake. Danny was acting fairly lazy in the ring (although maybe lazy is too harsh... quiet. Not lazy) but as soon as we hit the field he kept doing his little bouncies. He would squeal and then leap up with all four feet of the ground. He would land in the same spot and then carry on like nothing happened. Except he kept doing it. Repeatedly. Like 8 times in the short ride. So as we got back up to the top of the XC field, Kelli asked if we needed to go take a gallop. Ummmm... I think so!

So I turned him away from them and tried to keep him together long enough to get some distance between us. Hee heee. He barely kept it together long enough for us to get some space, but... then off we went. HOLY MOLY!!! That was the fastest we have even gone I think! I just grabbed the neck strap and attempted to steer. We went a second lap and then we ended up heading towards the lake. I figured we had enough so we headed back in to Kelli and Judy. He was actually quite behaved and we trotted the whole way back. He broke into the canter once, but only once. And our trot was a power trot, but it was a trot. 

Good baby boy!!

Oh, and before the gallop and the lake, He did hop up the BN/Novice bank and over the hogsback like a good boy. :) 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday Fun Day


lazy boy

jumped the ditch to water to coop to up bank to cabin to house. slightly surprised at ditch and upbank but went after backing off (but not a stop)

worked on counter canter...perhaps it's outside rein more than my darn right foot

splash in lake to end

Jump Lesson at Silverthorn

goats ok til they made noise
jumped a course like a pro. it's mom that needs to step up
worked on my bending elbows and shoulders back and legs forward over fences. Helpful when I pushed my butt back but more so when i focused on my bending elbows and grabbing mane

Dressage after Kansas

week off, counter canter, hard stuff

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Got that lesson in

Excellent..... Even though my lesson with Kelly was cancelled for Thursday, she ended up coming to Ashland on Saturday and invited me to ride. I was able to go to my nephews baptism and first communions and then make it in time for my lesson and get back in time for the farrier. Perfect!!
(oh man... did I mention how much I LOVE this horses' canter?!)
My new saddle arrived too! It's basically the exact same one as the one Cindy loaned me in the meantime, but with long billets. Yay! Time to break it in right.

Kelly was running a little late so I went out for a hack in the XC field and did the hill 3-4 times while they finished up. Danny was a bit rowdy and reared going up the hill at one point. Yeah... rearing while already uphill is about as fun as bucking while going downhill. Why he insists on fighting gravity is beyond me! It wasn't bad though, although he continued to dance and prance. We had some very collected trot and canters. I was trying to maintain decorum and not get the other young horse riled up during their lesson, so we managed to shut it down and went back to hang with them while they finished. 
Once in the ring though Danny was initially acting like he was tired. However, he really did great. We started with a grid to work on getting Dan to use his front end better. Except that it ended up switching over to work on me and fix my position. So poor Dan had to repeat the two stride grid repeatedly. And from a "normal" trot... which on video looks normal but while riding felt like a western jog. hee hee. And he didn't act tired at all, so... yay for fitness. :) 

So... we worked on my position, and ultimately, the grid was only going to help Dan, especially with us keeping him somewhat collected and slow so he had to rock back and use himself. My problem was that I kept tipping forward. And looking at the video now, I think my whole body gets too ahead. It's not just my shoulders and my upper body, but my butt, my hips, my everything...except my leg. That goes out behind me. So Kelly had me working on pushing my leg out in front of me, pushing my hands forward, BUT keeping my shoulders up and back. I had to learn how to move my elbows independently of my upper body. 

So I had to get Dan over the jump while focusing on ....
  1. slow and steady tempo
  2. keeping my hands on his neck, grabbing mane or neck strap (We found that if I do that, AND hold mane for at least two strides on landing, I don't immediately bring my hands back to me)
  3. keeping my shoulders up and back. (Herein lies my problem.... Instead of pushing my hands forward and my shoulders back on landing... I put my shoulders forward and row my hands back. So... the complete opposite of what I should do). 
  4. pushing my feet out in front of me a little, creating landing gear
  5. AND....while Kelly didn't stress this, I feel like I need to push my butt back a little so my whole entire body isn't so in front of him. 
So yeah... really hard to do all of that at once and ride the horse. It was much easier when he was taking the slightly longer spot than the basey one. And I found (at least I hope that what I was feeling was right) that if I focused on my hands in the mane and my bending and pushing forward elbows and shoulders, my back and legs sort of fell into place. BUT... I still really am going to have to fight that habit until it becomes more normal. 

You can see in the photos what I need to work on. Sigh.... Kelly is good!!! I can't really see this til I freeze it. :) 

So yep... lots of work, but that's okay. I really want to fix this once and for all. And Danny was amazing. He just kept clocking through like.... "I thought that *I* was the greenie mom... get your act together"!. Hee hee.. What a good baby horse.

Here's where I really messed up and almost ate it, but the baby horse just clocks on through....rolling his eyes at me ;) 
Of course at the end, because Kelly mentioned that it would be tougher for me through the grid because he was getting a little blase about it, she let me continue on over two individual fences to work on it. And he was good the first time... a little stronger the second, and then a bit bolder the third and fourth time. Hee hee. Stinker!

Lots of work, but at least I felt like I was making a little bit of progress. Now to get Kelli and Peri to help me maintain and continue to improve!!

Helpful to watch 
Towards the end 
Also towards the end