Friday, August 14, 2009

A Beautiful but Tiring Day

Today looked like it was going to be real hot, but it leveled out real nice in the evening, and it was beautiful when I got to the barn around 7. I put him out in one of the dirt turnouts while I did his stall and got him new shavings, then I tacked him up and rode outdoors. The sun was setting while I was riding, so there was plenty of light but virtually no heat.

I've been working lately on not getting stuck in a rut and doing the same exercises over and over again. I have a tendency to just focus on the newest thing I've learned in my lessons (or worse, just ride the same 20m circle over and over!), and not do some of the older exercises that are still very important. So, I dug out an old one I remembered that actually incorporated what we did last lesson, just in a different pattern.

The "Bow Tie" Pattern
It's just a figure 8-ish shape that touches the long side of an arena, such as at B. You ride from B to M in a working trot, make about a 15 m turn off the rail, and come back to B at an lengthened trot. Then, B to F, you can ride shoulder in. Another 15 m turn off the rail, and come back to B by leg-yielding. There are tons of variations you can do, but we worked on a lengthening / shoulder-in and leg yield bow tie. We don't really have a true lengthening yet, but we're working in that direction. He did really well with it, especially the leg yields.

We set up a course in the outdoor on Wednesday, and the jumps were still set up today, so we had to get a little creative in our bow tie, but it worked just the same. The hardest part for us is definitely the shoulder-in, so we schooled a lot of that at the walk before we started the bow tie exercise. His lengthenings were getting better at the end, too.

Since we're currently planning on going to nationals, where you can't use whips in dressage, my instructor said I should ride without it every once in a while, and today was the first day I tried it. He was really good in the "forward" aspect of the things, but I just didn't feel like I had the same control in our lateral movements like the leg yields, and especially the shoulder-in. I ended up picking it back up about half-way through the ride. I definitely want to school some more without it. Makes me glad our test doesn't have any shoulder-ins!

After the ride, I cooled him off and was thinking about just leaving when I got really motivated, for some odd reason, and decided to do my instructor's two stalls, too. So I lugged two more loads of shavings to their respective stalls, and got completely covered in the itchy stuff. Thank goodness it comes off easy!

I wish I could ride tomorrow, but I am completely swamped with summer homework that needs to be done by Tuesday, and I have to help clean house in the morning, plus we have company in the afternoon. I'm thinking he'll just have his day off tomorrow instead of Monday for a change. Although I might apparently be taking said company out to the barn to meet pony. We'll see!


  1. Oooh, I will have to remember to try out that exercise! Yeah, Greta needs work on collections and extentions. Maybe collection and/or bending work in the curves and extensions along the straights. Ooh, the possiblities are endless! Yeah, I have just as bad of a habit focusing on the new exercises and forgetting about the old ones!

    Greta flips (well, she just doesn't focus and goes really fast) if she sees a whip in my hand. I haven't gone out and gotten spurs, but I don't really think I should, since Greta already has a lot of go. And I have a bad habit of accidentally tapping the horse up with my spurs when we canter! Oops!

    What a find works instead should Greta start to get a bit lazy (cantering voltes is hard on her!) then I take my heels, no spurs nothing, and sort of roll them around in place like I would if I did have spurs. It's noticeable enough to get her to go! Another thing I've found is that instead of putting constant pressure with my legs (natural instinct) I just need to apply quick little bursts of pressure. Horses live in the "now" and after a while, they'll "numb" themselves to that continued pressure. Quick little pushes tell them, "oh, oh, OH! Gotchya!"

    Might already know that, but anywho...

    Ooh, I still need to finish reading my two summer books ("The Jungle" and "Fast Food Nation" and I never want to eat even processed food again!) like fast, school's in less than a week-and-a-half! Oh no!

    Can't wait to read on. And cool stats on the USEF website on the previous entry!

  2. It's a really fun exercise :) The whip is good for being able to say, "Hey, I meant that!/Don't ignore me!" So if I ask for a transition and Val says, "La dee da, maybe in a few minutes," I can say "no, now!" He's never really been freaked out by the idea of one. I very rarely use spurs because I don't have that control over my leg quite yet... hopefully, that'll come!

    I definitely have to remind myself to not use constant pressure. If he's not going, but I'm asking, I'm doing something wrong! So thanks for the reminder about the burts of pressure, and I'll try the heel roll!

    Less than a week and a half? ): I start tomorrow, so don't feel too bad!

    I'm definitely going to try to keep this blog up, and thanks about the stats!