Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Planning the ride.

I've been really sick for almost 2 weeks. I am finally starting to feel a little more like myself so I hope to be back to normal by the weekend. Despite this, I have managed to have some pretty good rides lately. A few at my old lesson barn and a few on my leased horse at the new place.

I am starting to get used to the new guy. In fact, my lesson last Friday felt awesome! It's really exciting to feel like you are making progress.  As awesome as that ride was, it hasn't taken me long to realize that I need to start developing some kind of plan when it comes to my non-lesson rides. Yes, I am one of those people that mostly rides in lessons so I'm used to being told what to do! When I'm not in lessons I am on green horses where it's pretty easy to know what to work on, or I ride on trails where you are always moving forward to some destination or other.  It is somewhat strange because he's not MY horse so the long-term goals are somewhat fuzzy. But I do need goals, otherwise I think I will just putz around and it won't be much fun.

So, it looks like I'll be trying to give myself more structure so that I feel like I'm making progress. This week - riding without stirrups!  I have to say, I consider my sitting-trot skills to be pretty good. I can sit well, without bouncing, on almost anything. Almost :)  Brumby has the biggest trot and unless he is very collected it is very bumpy. I guess that will be my stage 2 of getting used to him!  Hopefully I'll have something more interesting soon...

Do you plan your rides? How do you go about deciding what to work on and when?  If you don't have a plan, how do you keep the rides interesting?


Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

I do plan my rides to some extent. First I try to get out of the ring at least once a week for a nice hack out/trail ride. When I am jumping I also plan out how many jumping and non jumping rides each week. As far as my 'working rides' I know in general what I want to work on with each horse and either the night before or as I am tacking up and doing my warm-up walking I think about specific exercises and goals for the ride. I usually set up a specific gymnastic or line if the focus of my ride will be over fences.

As you mentioned, if I don't put thought into my rides I wind up getting on and just trotting and cantering around in 20m circles and not really 'doing' anything. I'll throw in some lateral work and such but it is somewhat aimless riding if I haven't thought it out beforehand.

Golden the Pony Girl said...

I do plan my rides as well. I think there is a fine line between being organized and being flexible though. I usually have a loose plan for the ride such as work on lateral movements, though plans do change if for instance the horse is giving me an amazing canter depart I may want to head in that direction... so in other words I plan but it often gets thrown out the window when I am actually riding! I am the same as Melissa where I plan my weeks out trying to balance in jumping, flat work/fine tuning and trail/hacks I think diversity is really important! Glad to hear that you and your new lease are getting on better.

HorseOfCourse said...

Glad to hear you are better, RB, and also that things are working out with the horse :-)

I always find it well used time to repeat what we worked on in the lesson the next time when I ride on my own.
Then I have more time to feel and to concentrate fully on the input from my horse. I can also combine it with some extra focus on seat and posture.

Apart from that, I always use the main bulk of time to supplying work.
My aim is a soft and supple horse, with equal contact on both reins, that bends and positions right/left without resistance, is relaxed and willingly obeys both forward and collecting aids, keeping the frame without tensing up in body or neck.
(Which I eventually perhaps will achieve when we reach GP???)

In this work I start out with my horse in a low and round form, and I want a soft but steady contact on the bit. I use transitions (within gaits, between gaits), circles, leg-yields, just trying to work through any stiffnesses or tensions.

When my horse is working (reasonably) well, it is time to shorten up the reins and do some more demanding work.

And in the end (or in between, if tension creeps in), I again put her in a low, round form.

I believe that this supplying work is the solid base that every (dressage) horse has to work with, in every training session as it builds suppleness and strength.

RuckusButt said...

Thanks for the input guys! You've given me some things to think about. I am hoping to be able to ride outside at least occasionally through the winter. I'm not sure how it will be at the stable where my leased horse is. They are VERY big on turnout there so perhaps they keep some of the trails ride-able. Ontario winters aren't exactly mild, but if we have decent snow it should be good for hacking. Time will tell!

Golden, I like your approach with being flexible depending on the day, how things are going etc. That is something I will probably become more attune to now, I think.

Ah, jumping. I miss it. I haven't jumped the new guy yet since I have just been getting to know him and I am still new-ish at jumping. Also, he lost a shoe last week in the mud. I LOVE working on dressage but there is something about the rhythm of riding a gymnastic or course that I start to miss after awhile!

Lol, Horseofcourse! As I was reading through your description of what you are looking for, I thought "Is that all??" :) GP indeed! I'd say you're well on your way though. I like that everything you described is how my instructor approaches our lessons. Of course, I have varying degrees of success depending on the horse!

Wait til I get some pics of this guy'll see he was worth giving half a chance to, I think. I'm working on getting hubby out but we aren't allowed dogs there and it's tough with the foster puppy especially.

HorseOfCourse said...

RB - we are lightyears away from GP, lol!
What I aim for is not what I have. But we need something to work towards, right??

I am happy to hear that your instructor is of the same mind. Looking forwards to some pictures too!

RuckusButt said...

HoC - I know, but your attitude is why I say you are well on your way :)