I quite enjoyed reviewing the videos of my tests from last weekend's 'show clinic'. Not because I was brilliant but because it enabled me to see things that were good to build on and things to improve. Often my show videos are such a mass of tension that that's all I can see.
Watching the videos helped me to see when Carmen was pushing from behind and when she was not. In my rides since then I've been trying to work on it, with varying levels of success. However, 'Rome wasn't built in a day and all that'. I realize that I've been accepting Carmen's jog because it felt safe and quiet. However, that wasn't going to get us anywhere, unless I switched to western pleasure (and I'm not ready to do that yet).
|It's been a beautiful late summer|
According to Carmen, going faster means she gets to dump on her forehand and how dare I alter the terms of the contract. Fortunately, she doesn't have a lawyer (at least I don't think so, egads can you even imagine?) so we keep pegging away at it. I've also been working on my half-halts and keeping them in the rhythm of the stride, not holding until she gives. That is harder to remember and I often catch myself holding. I'm getting better at recognizing it sooner so that's something. I can definitely feel on it helps balance her.
On Saturday I had another lesson with Jane and, spoiler alert, it was fabulous. Our ride was earlyish (9:30) and the weather was sunny but windy. The kind of wind that usually has Carmen scooting all over the place. I had her up early and we did a lot of groundwork until she was settled and focussed. By then Jane had arrived and I told her how we'd been doing. She also spoke to me about the show and said, the way you both were in the ring was really good and I hope you understand that that was not luck. I assured her that I knew that it was more than that.
In our lesson we worked on getting Carmen to shorten her walk and then lengthen out of it. I wasn't to over use my hands or over push with my legs. Everything was to be gradual. I struggled with that a bit but it began to click together.
|the rainy summer means that the pastures are still lush|
Our trot was slow as per usual starting out (although Jane said that it was better than our first trot a couple rides ago). Again I was to encourage her forward in the rhythm of the stride but not nag or kick her. And a lot of our work was on shoulder in. It's getting there but I still let Carmen cheat by bending her neck. The funny thing is that when it's correct, I can feel it right away and it's so smooth. I worked on trying to get that feeling in my bones so I could do it on my own.
Carmen was definitely up and felt quite ready to zoom off in many directions. But Jane just kept us on track and pushing forward. When I would hold too much (or too long) she'd tell me to 'lighten my arms' which helped me with this idea of softening but not letting the contact go. We had some lovely canter work in there (I really need to figure out how to get some media during our lessons). Our last two canter transitions were lifting up through her whither and our downwards were balanced and into the correct rhythm so there was no flailing of trying to get it corrected.
|no flailing here|
Near the end we were doing a lovely SI to the left and I gave a little too much on the outside rein (like literally an ounce because she was so light already) and the little minx threw in a big spook/spin; but we were able to circle back and carry on. Jane explained that I had given too much rein and Carmen was able to take advantage of the loose outside rein to spin away. I think she viewed it as good feedback for Carmen to do that because otherwise I would never know I was throwing contact away. Carmen was quite tense in one corner and getting a SI coming out of it felt impossible. I wasn't getting any movement of shoulders until well past S.
At the end of the lesson Jane said "now about that corner.." I'm not going to lie, I thought that she was going to tell me that Carmen was nervous and I should go to it gradually and work on getting her confidence. But, nope. It was about me not getting the SI until almost half-way down the long side. I realized I was doing that because I was believing that her going through the corner was enough, and asking for me was mean (well not that I had it laid out in my head that clearly but that is what I was doing). Yes, it's part of your compromise- she doesn't run away and you don't ask too much.
What Jane helped me to understand is that Carmen and I had been stagnating in this compromised state where she stays calm and I don't push (I do hold though) and that I need to get through that to get the work that she's capable of doing. But not push like a fight, but to ask for a little more and a little more until it's there.
Today I rode early and Carmen was a bit up again. But I stuck to the plan of shoulder fore, shoulder in and forward but not rushing. We rode in every part of the ring and I supported her through the spots that she was unsure of. I practiced coming out of every corner in SI, except for the tricky one. I wanted to make sure that she clearly understood the task. Once it was really consistent at all three other corners and walk and trot (I didn't canter) I then asked her to do it coming out of the bad corner. At first it felt like shoving a big octopus into a small bag- all these parts were going all over the place. I made sure I was correct and just kept repeating. Then she did it and I was so happy I rewarded her. Then I asked again and she was soft coming right out of the corner so I stopped and hopped off.
Years ago when I rode hunter/jumper in Ontario the owner of the barn I rode at would occasionally give lessons. I did more things with him than any of the others. There was something about the way her taught that made you believe you could do it and so you did. I find it similar with Jane. She has a way of piercing through the noise in my head and getting me to do it. Which gives me confidence that I can do it. When we fail there's no criticism although there might be an analysis that lets me know where I made a mistake. But there's no implied criticism about making the mistake (if that makes any sense).
I think that this is just the push that we needed.
|my friend brought her French bulldog puppy for a visit. |
Can you even handle the cuteness?