Canter leg-yields?!

Yesss! We are back in action with our regularly scheduled dressage lesson on Tuesday. We practiced leg-yields with correct rider posture (elbows in at your side, leg yield using the LEG and not pulling/opening the rein. If the leg yield didn’t happen, that was ok. It just meant you had to sharpen up the leg aid more next time).

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And Oats was so good! I was quite pleased with him, the little goofball.

We worked our way up to canter leg yields, and while these were a tad more ‘fraught’ with challenge, it still went quite well and I was pleased with with his effort, sense of humour and ability.

The leg yield left-right was tricky and he got fairly heavy on the right rein at the canter, which made the leg yield harder to get, with less ‘jump’ at the canter and more ‘dragging freight-train’ but still, he was definitely trying. One thing we learned was that to keep the horse packaged up at the canter, you need leg and hand and some very minor bend, but you shouldn’t feel like they will fall apart if you let it go- they should carry themselves at some point. You don’t want the ‘canter canter canter SPLAT!’ feeling.

Also I learned that a slight bend is important because without it, Oats gets confused and wants to swap leads. Fair enough, horse!

The leg yield right-left at the canter went quite well! 🙂

Good boy Oats, I was so glad to have my guy back in action doing some good dressage work with minor hissy-fits.

Here’s to being here

Dressage lesson on Tuesday and it went quite well actually. I have noticing Oats being a bit more stiff in recent months, with no real turnout, so we discussed that and a few approaches to it. That also led to our lesson being focused on teaching the horses to go to ‘long and low’ while still moving out into the bridle.

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Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Oats did struggle with that, he shifts between wanting to snatch at the bridle and root, or raising his head up. We definitely had a few things to work out, that’s for sure! He was quite sweaty after, with white foam on his neck–we had a GREAT warmup this week, with temperatures reaching 12 deg?! And remember last week at -9? I was frozen? Yes it feels like another country right now 🙂

Wednesday I took off for both of us, as our jump lesson has now moved to…Thursday!

I used to always ride on Thursday, so it felt more normal to join the Thursday night jump crew. We worked on another grid (where I knew what I was supposed to be doing and yet couldn’t seem to make my body, you know, DO it..) My hands pulled up, instead of releasing down -shoot- and my traitor legs shot backwards. We also had one totally blasted turn that I made that Oats slipped, his legs went out from under him and he scrambled to recover. SHIT!

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2 steps forward, 1 step back.

I definitely was feeling it, this weird rusty, ‘out of practice’ feeling when I was jumping. Which is odd, since I haven’t really taken a lot of time off from it? Maybe from coursework? Or maybe the bitter cold took more out of me than I thought.

We worked on the grid, and then to a small course w/tiny little jumps. It was funny, I felt anxious again and declared I was NOT going to do it again! (not sure why I do this, it’s definitely anxiety-related and it happens when I feel a bit shakier or tired), but Nicole just laughed, let me walk it off for a few minutes, and then I was ready to go again! Hahahah.

So yes, I squashed that ‘fear’ part of me, breathed, calmed down, and went and rode the entire course w/the grid again. And you know what? It wasn’t perfect but it went perfectly fine. Sure, I was feeling wobbly and a bit unbalanced but you know what? I did it anyways! Go me!

So to sum up- Oats was great, very forgiving. It wasn’t perfect and sure didn’t ride lovely, but I conquered by fear and decided to do it again and it was totally ok. Baby steps.

Free to be me!

I had my dressage lesson on Tuesday and my legs were still kind of killing me (see Halloween half-marathon and my apparent lack of fitness…). I was SO tempted to cancel the lesson, just take it easy again.

Mr. Handsome- photo credit to Hannah R.

Mr. Handsome- photo credit to Hannah R.

Did I? Nope! I am proud of myself for committing, even when I was tired, my legs still hurt, I was having a lot of trouble with stairs- going down them was not easy until yesterday- but I did it. Oh and it was absolutely pouring cats and dogs. Yeeeesh.

It was a good, thorough and challenging lesson.

Things Oats is allowed to do now: Express himself appropriately. His major hissy-fits of yesteryear are no longer, apparently, and now he is okay to say ‘THIS IS HARD!!’ and then…move on and accept it.

Phew!!

We worked on lateral work at the trot, and he had a few ‘moments’ but funny enough Karen really liked when he was haughty with a little more attitude, because his trot suddenly became very ‘prancy’ and bouncy, instead of flat and draggy like usual. So, we could use it! Ha, take that, pony 🙂

After some fairly extensive lateral work, we brought in transitions- walk/trot in shoulder-in, and haunches in. This was tough, I’m not going to say it was easy. But, it was good work, and I was very pleased with the solid effort-not without minor drama- from Oats.

Then we moved on to holding a nice mid-level neck with a lot of bend inwards, from a slow trot to a canter, holding the bend. Easier said than done…We struggled with that more. I had a hard time keeping the bend, not letting Oats throw his head up and out, and keeping the canter with the bend. Ah, things…

We finished the lesson by working on ‘spins’ sort of. Getting Oats to disengage his hindquarters and let me ‘spin’ him, instead of bracing against me. It wasn’t 100% successful, but I could feel a real change from the left spin to the right. A very interesting technique, and not something I am used to doing.

Bonus- all that work let me forget how tired and achy my legs were!

A good pony.

 

What more could a girl want?

That’s right, yesterday was my birthday! The big 3-1 for me~

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Celebrating at the barn with a big delicious cake! Thanks Sarah C, you’re the best!

In all honesty, things I have been focusing on overshadowed my b-day- my lesson with Jane Stone on Thursday that I was alternately looking forward to and worried about, my race on Saturday, Rock the Shores on Sunday, and oh, my big upcoming international trip.

So yeah, lots going on eh?

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More presents than I deserve!

But regardless, I had a GREAT birthday! (well, except for the having to be at work part. That part sucked). I hauled ass home from work, ran my dog out, threw on my riding clothes, wolfed down a Clif Bar and immediately got stuck in traffic for 45 minutes. SIGH.

I asked to have our semi-private lesson in the big field when I learned that the girls had so nicely put the jumps out there. A chance to work on my weaker skills at home? Even though I had previously fallen off at the Derby jumping in the field? SURE! Let’s do it. I knew it would be a challenge for me, because of my anxieties.

As it turns out, all my worries and fears were…for naught! Poof!

Jane was very understanding about what I have going on, and we worked it, man! I was really enjoying the lesson, we tried jumping a cavaletti to warm up, normal at first, and then some terrain-work, and then set to land flat and head slightly downhill. Success!

And then we started working on a small course, and it went super fantastic. Oats was so keen, I was loving it. We had a few bobbles- getting straight to a fence and him getting disunited, but it was fine and we worked with it.

I got a lot of confidence out of the lesson and felt so positive about it. Go us! Jane was very complimentary about our horses (who were perfect) and my position~ yay!!

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My second birthday cake- made by my husband! Menagerie on top provided by my sister.

And the cherry on top? A birthday cake at the barn accompanied by good friends and a Palm Bay. Yum!!! I even had more cake at home baked by my husband, who make an amazing cake that I immediately wanted to eat more of, even though I knew it would make me sick….

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It was a good night.

Yep I had cake and more cake with wine instead of dinner last night. So sue me, it’s my birthday!!! 🙂

Struggle-bus dressage?

I noticed I’ve been complaining about flatwork a lot lately- in all honesty, Oats has improved by like, 100% and my ‘wanty’ behaviour is due to the things I now think we are capable of doing…

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Another time when he was sweaty too!

Like yesterday- our dressage lesson was pretty good, I wasn’t scared off anything and Oats didn’t bug me too much. But, things like- he wouldn’t trot when I was asking for contact in a medium-low stretchy frame- he would only canter. And canter. And canter. For a pony who has the HARDEST time going forward, it’s quite interesting to ride him when he finds canter easier than trot. I wanted trot though, so I was like wtf horse, why won’t you just trot?!!

But, as my trainer pointed out, if he’s doing the exercise well enough at the canter, leave it there for now. It’s mentally doing the job that you need–you can get nitpickier about the gait later. Fair enough!

So, we cantered–seeking the nice, stretchy lower-frame work that we tried to get in trot. And then we eventually got it in trot!  And the tried for it in a quieter, more compressed trot to transition to a small canter. This was met with mixed results- Oats started being a twit about yanking the reins out of my hands and tossing his head…So, back to the drawing board.

I found (again) that I let him buldge off my right leg going left. Oh and I rely too much on my inside rein to keep him in corners- this has been plaguing me on my jump lessons bigtime!

It was a very sweaty lesson. Oats had rivulets of sweat running down his forehead! If he’d only trot, I’m sure it would have been much less sweaty, but you know, ponies…No sense reasoning with them!

I did give him a very big and long head-scratching session- as dictated by me so he doesn’t rudely shove his big head on me- and he LOVED IT! And he got some more candy canes as a treat!