dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hi Ho Hi Ho

Steele and I have been working away at the bottom of the dressage pyramid: Forward, Straightness and Rhythm. And steering. Let's not forget steering.

I've been managing to ride about 4-5 days a week which has been nice. I love the cooler weather of September and the fact that there are no bugs is great too.

So Steele is pretty much forward unless he's uncertain. And then he wants to back off. Any indication from me that I want him to slow down results in an abrupt slow down. So I have to be very very clear. I also try to not get upset. After all he's just figuring all this out. On his own he has the option of moving away from whatever he's uncertain about. With me riding he has to learn to trust me.

One of our recurring discussions concerned the canter. He would pick up a canter readily enough but drop out quickly. I was lucky if I could coax a full circle. I've been patiently picking away at this. A couple rides ago I was riding him and he was very very fresh. He wanted to career around the ring at top speed. I've been around long enough to know that running around is not actually 'forward'. It's just a different type of avoidance. So we worked on control. About 30 minutes into our ride Steele was hesitating on one part of the circle, wanting to duck away, so I put my legs on to encourage him ahead. BUT my legs weren't applied evenly and he popped into a right lead canter. I decided to pretend I asked for that and let it go. It felt different then other canters- there was a lot of impulsion but not crazy. I decided to let it go so that he could figure out that he could carry me around at a canter and it was no big deal. I have no idea how long we cantered - we circled, went ahead, circled again, rinse, repeat. When he felt like he wanted to trot I encouraged him for one more circle and then  brought him back. We both were puffing but felt better. After a brief break we repeated it on the other lead.

That seemed to mark a breakthrough- he's figured that he can canter with me on him and the world doesn't end.

galloping is easy when he's free
That doesn't mean that we still don't discuss 'forward'. But we're getting there.

This is where we've made a lot of progress. Our circles are not horrible anymore. I'm getting better at knowing when he wants to duck in or fall out on a circle so I can correct it ahead of time. Corners are difficult at times- he wants to bend to the outside to look around (especially at the spooky corner). I am trying like mad to make sure that I'm not over-aiding because that just makes me crooked which doesn't help him at all. I have to remember to sit like it's perfect and let him figure out that it's easier to bend around that leg on the inside then against it.

I'm also working on not just riding the edge of the arena but to take advantage of the quarter lines and centre lines. Today we did an exercise where I was asking him to walk-trot-walk-trot every so many strides but on the quarter lines. This helped me to keep my aids straight and not depend on the rail. I think that it made it clearer for him.

This is foundation of it all. I have trying to put into practice what we did at the clinic. It's up to me to set the rhythm so he can relax into the work and stay forward and straight.  If you are coming by you may over hear me saying "1-1-1-1-1" so I can keep the trot rhythm consistent. It was really really hard at first to not fall into random rhythms. But it's getting better.

I'm loving working with this horse that challenges me to be better and better but not because he's difficult but because he tries so dang hard.

so what are we going to do now? 

1 comment:

Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.