dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Conscious (semi) Competence

I'm starting to feel like I have a bit of a handle on things I've been learning from Royce and Sue. I'm probably bouncing between unconscious incompetence and conscious competence (for reference).

I've ridden three times since coming home from the clinic. I gave Carmen Monday off because I had a busy and long day at work and plus I just was tired! However, Carmen was a bit grumpy at being neglected so I had to bring her out and give her a groom.

I've been trying to take what I've learned and use it in my rides so that I don't slip back into bad habits. One is my tendency to put my legs out in front of me. Part of the problem is that I have flexi stirrups. When I bought them 10 years ago these were recommended to help you be flexible in your leg. Sue disagreed, after trying stable stirrups (thanks Karen for loaning them) I could feel the difference.  I am using some plastic ones for now until I get to the tack store. But I am finding how more stable I am with my legs in the right position. It's easier to engage my core muscles. Yesterday I had a massage and went I went to ride i had to lengthen my stirrups- a combination of the composite ones (they are shorter) and that she released my quad and Psoas muscles.

Right now I'm sure that I look very awkward as I try to keep things in mind and ride what I was taught. It's hard because it takes thinking and feels awkward. Which means I have to decide if it's awkward because it's wrong or awkward because it's right.

It was interesting with Carmen back in the ring. She's falling into her old habits of being stiff and spooky. The first two time her heart wasn't really in it and I worked out of it pretty quickly. Yesterday it took a little longer. But I refuse to buy into her drama and put her to work. Moving her butt and getting her forward is the key for her and she's learning that I don't back off just because she telegraphing that there are monsters. I think that the clinic had just the right timing for me- between Royce and Sue's information I am feeling very confident (don't you love it when instructors agree?). I suspect that we will be having these discussions in my ring for a while because of the pattern we've established.

When Carmen finally gives, it feels so good and then we can actually work. The problem is that it's been very hot and humid so by then I'm a hot mess. But we can then do lots of things at walk and trot and she's not looking around for things to get excited about.

I've re-introduced trot poles into our work. Before she would suck back right before and through them and then get annoyed that she was tripping. Now I can feel her stretch out over and her stride gets bouncy. It feels great.

Yesterday we did some work on shoulder-in and haunches in. We started at the walk. I have to be careful to not overland her and not bend her neck. But when it's there I can really feel her lift into it and she feels the work. Once it was good at the walk to the right I asked for it in trot. A little more difficult but she figured it out. We switched direction and she found it harder to the left. I picked up a trot across the short side, did a 10 m circle and asked her for haunches in down the long side. I could feel her try but this is just impossible, sorry and she dropped to a walk. I laughed, she wasn't being resistant she just couldn't figure it out. I let her walk in it, straightened her out and then picked up a trot again. This time as we did our 10 m circle I made sure that I was supporting her with my legs- the outer to keep the haunches in and the inner pulsing to keep the momentum. She kept the pace and we did about 12 m of haunches in, I gave her lots of praise for it and then straightened her.  We stopped around the corner and I dismounted.

Because of the heat our sessions are not long but I'm feeling that they are productive.

From the clinic. Her head is tilted because of my left hand (seriously, I just need to CUT  IT OFF),
but her ears are listening and her hind leg is reaching and my set is looking semi-competent. 
***so somehow I posted the same post twice! I am not sure how I did that.


  1. Hubertus Schmid, Germany is highly respected as a trainer who gets excellent results with happy horses. When asked how much time he spends training, he says 6 days a week for about 30 minutes each ride including warm up. He works his GP horses in a regular snaffle except coming up to a competition when he increases slightly the duration of his training sessions and rides them in a double. Each training session has a plan (which may change according to what the horse needs or is able to do that day) which includes working on only 1-2 exercises. Only closer to a competition does he start putting more of the exercises together.

    I had the pleasure of watching him work with riders and horses at his farm in Germany. He is very welcoming and says there are no secrets and anyone is welcome to come any day. He only suggests you call first in case he's not there.

    It was peaceful watching him coach with 10-12 or more horses working in harmony under his tutelage in his 20mx60m indoor. They were of different levels and all rode independently with horses passing very close to each other completely calm - no ears back or snarly faces. The feeling was like being in church or a sanctuary. I watched for 2 hours (about 3 sessions) and saw how carefully he explained things so that there was no confusion. When horses did something well they were immediately given a little walk break. In training flying changes this was especially true so that the changes became calm. The horse knew that most of the time after a change he'd get a little walk break and this went a long way with young horses to keeping them relaxed.

    If you ever get to Germany, see if you can go watch him working with riders in the morning. Well worth a side trip.

    1. That is good information to have. thanks!

  2. I've had a couple trainers tell me that 20 minutes of good, focused work is all you need to progress. It has worked well for me -- 10 mins of warm up at walk and then 20 mins of work, followed by a cool down. I rarely ride more than 40 minutes. It suits me (and the horses) just fine. So, don't apologize for shorter sessions in the saddle. Remember, its quality - not quantity that matters.

    1. My problem is that I love to ride so I normally want to ride more than 30 minutes. :)


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