Saturday, April 24, 2010

Getting it Together.

Since I last posted about my frustration with riding, the rides have been great! It figures, just when I finally am frustrated enough to start complaining on the blog. His canter last night was more like scenic passenger train than freight train...still lots of power but also much more "pretty". Of course, "pretty" translates into uphill, rhythmic, controllable, AND I had breaks. The ride before was pretty good too.

I am hoping that this isn't just the "up" swing of the rollercoaster but that it's here to stay, more or less. I know, I know, there are always ups and downs, I'm referring to the major re-think-everything ones. Sometimes I think that if horses were men, a whole lot of them could be labeled "emotionally abusive" if not physically! Good thing they lack intent, as far as we

So what happened? I'm not 100% sure, actually. As with most things, I think it was a combination of factors.

I met the farrier, which I found very insightful. He was great - taught me a few things and answered my questions happily. I love that kind of thing! I also learned about some of the challenges he's been having with Brumby. It gave me better perspective. It also made me realize that some of the issues I've been having is that I find it hard to be so "hands off" as a leaser. I think I just naturally want to be informed and involved and I'm just learning how to make this work in a lease situation. In any case, Brumby was perfectly sound after a trim and reset, and I had a good ride. (woo hoo!!)

Second, I just rode. Sometimes I get too caught up with the details of position etc., that I lose the feel. I think I have pretty good feel, but a lousy memory for piece-meal parameters, so I really need to not fall into the trap of believing I can ride better by doing steps 1, 2, 3.

Third, Horse of Course left me some comments a few posts ago on improving the downward transitions. I've been pondering them ever since, so perhaps that has helped. I seem to still be working out when to use seat versus legs because it still seems odd to me to stop with my legs instead of my seat. I mean, they are always there to keep the 'forward' in the down transition...but no seat?? I don't think I know how to do that, yet.

It's all 'clear as sausage water'. My new favorite saying, sure beats 'clear as mud' that we use here ;)

Fourth, I went back and watched some videos from the end of January, right before the abscess. Huh, you know, we don't look half bad! It gave me a little confidence boost. After all, if I got there with him once, I will again. He likely needs more strength and stamina after time off. It's possible he's tired from the jumping and that is making my rides more challenging. I'm not trying to excuse it, just explain it!!

Fifth, I rode outside!! Last night I managed to make it to the barn early enough to walk outside for about 15 minutes before we ran out of light and went inside to work. He was hesitant a few times, and thought about rearing, but he didn't and was pretty good about it. It helped having another horse out there - someone who just came. She is from my old lesson barn and I'm really glad to see her and her horse, maybe I will finally have a pleasure riding partner!

Sixth, I am warming up longer. I have to say that I am very conscientious about warming up, always. But the temperatures have been all over the place since spring has sprung, so it's been hard to gauge how much is enough. I've increased the time but I also do more interesting things at a walk. I think this is helping a lot, actually.

So naturally I'm no closer to a decision as the end of the month rolls near and I reach my decision date. Ah well, might as well see how things go in May, right? Sorry for the lack of pictures.


HorseOfCourse said...

I am so happy for you, RB!
Riding can be very frustrating, but also SO fun when things work out.

You wrote: "it still seems odd to me to stop with my legs instead of my seat" - but that's just it!
You are not to "stop".

If my horse is collecting correctly, she will use more energy than she does in the working canter. It is very easy to lose both energy and balance in the transitions, and often it is because we use too much seat (and/or hands), and forget about the leg.
That is why it is so important to concentrate on the rythm, and the rein contact. The horse should at all times be ready to go forwards. If I have a hesitation going from collection back to working canter or extension, then I know that I probably did not have enough energy when collecting.
We need both energy and balance to make a good transistion!

When I have a nice collected canter - then I use the seat for making the actual transition from canter to trot; just by thinking trot rythm. That should be it!
I then need to release the energy into a forward trot, I have to let go in my seat and hips to (hopefully) get a large, energetic trot. (This is also a very good opportunity to improve the trot, you know!)

The input was just some general thoughts, RB, based on my own struggles and making a guess from how you decribed your problems.
Play around with it, or just ignore it, LOL!
I love to discuss these matters being the dressage nerd that I am.
Put on a coin and here we go!!
And remember, what works with your horse is the ultimate proof of doing things right.

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

I love the "emotionally abusive" comment, gave me a laugh.

Glad you are on the upswing again. In regards to warm-up Bonnie is the type of horse that I get on, walk a few laps, then trot and even canter a few laps around the ring on a totally loose rein (I only ask that she not put her head down some but no real contact at all) a few times around as well. Then I come back to the walk, ask her to come on the bit, and then we actually go to work. I usually starting with some lateral work at the walk to help supple her for the ride. I finally learned that she just needed time to stretch and move around before I asked anything "real" of her AT ALL.

RuckusButt said...

Thanks! Today was my first lesson since things started to feel like they were coming undone and it was awesome! He still gives some resistance at times and bucks or threatens to rear (or both) but he is figuring out it doesn't work anymore. Aside from those little "moments" he has been great. I really think riding outside has improved both of our states of mind!

HoC - Oh I've been playing alright! I needed to think about what you said with respect to what I do and consider how they are different and similar. I do exactly what you describe in the trot-walk transition but you helped me realize that in the canter-trot I was using a different approach, though I didn't intend to. I was anticipating a problem in the transition and focusing on my seat as the cue. I was not riding forward into the transition like I usually would. I still need to ride this through a little more and see if I can figure out why I am doing this with him, but not previous horses.

If I could just put a coin in and get advice from you anytime, I would either be poor, sleep deprived, or both! lol.

Melissa - thanks! It's sad but true, sometimes. Bonnie sounds a lot like Brumby (or vice versa), actually. I finally realized I should do the full w-t-c without asking much, then come back and work, exactly like you describe. I think I missed this in the winter because I would spend soooo long warming up - walk in hand, walk under saddle, trot, trot...I had to recalibrate as the weather has changed!