Not cut out for this: Dressage lesson recap

Or maybe I should say ‘Oats is not cut out for this dressage nonsense?’?

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Me dealing with nonsense. Ha.

Anyways, I approached my regular semi-private with a bit of trepidation. My legs were so tired (from the race, natch!) and I was feeling draggy and blah. My SAD lamp isn’t working yet or something something..Not sure.

I figured it was going to be a challenge, and Oats did not disappoint. It WAS! We were working on (after a warm up) getting the horses to raise their shoulders up, head up but still with mild throatlatch bending with an end goal of having the horses moving uphill, rather than diving downhill. Or, ‘dumpster-diving’ as Karen so colloquially puts it!

Oats as it turns out is good at dumpster diving. We took this work over a pole, on a circle and on a straight line. It was…hard. We had a few flying leaps, and a few instances where Oats TOLD me to take a flying leap. HA.

In the canter I used my crop to ‘encourage’ Oats to move forward and he responded with a big buck! I sat it and we continued. We went on the circle again and he lagged- crop time! I applied it and BUCK! Another buck, haha.

Now, I was able to sit the bucks pretty easily because he wasn’t actively trying to get me off. Those bucks, no freaking way and he has gotten me off a few times bucking. This time, he was just irritated and trying to find a way to ‘loosen the load’ of me sitting on his back via a buck. It didn’t work, I stayed on and kept asking.

He figured it out but wasn’t super pleased about the work.

Oh well, a step in the progression of dressage for us. He did have some lovely stretch work at the end of the ride 🙂

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Part-Time Friends (Jump lesson!)

We have been working on some really interesting jump exercises recently. Every lesson I come in with anticipation and sometimes dread, ha, to see how much Nicole will challenge both Oats and I.

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I am ready to accept the challenge!

This week we worked over 3 bounce x-rails (bounce-bounce-bounce), and then eventually into a course that had some interesting technicalities. Boy did we struggle with the bounces- I almost ATE it when I got left behind, and then bounced in the butt with the saddle and ended up on Oats’ neck. Whoops! Yikes!

Anyways, we also incorporated jumping a small jump, like a rail on the ground basically, on a 10-metre circle. Oats was really good at it, and did it three times in a row even.

Course time: Start on the left rein to the three bounce jumps. Left turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continue left and go across the diagonal, jumping the skinny on an angle. Going right now, jump over three bounce jumps. Right turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continuing right, go over the diagonal jumping the skinny. Continue right over the oxer, landing at ‘H’ and cantering into a ‘tear drop’ shape, jumping the single fence along the long side. Canter left lead into a 20-metre circle, ending the circle by turning in to ‘X’ and jumping straight down the middle, ending at ‘C’.

We aced it!

sort of- ha. But it was a great workout and an excellent challenge for the both of us. Whoop.

Tough Jump

So in my post-juice-cleanse fervor, I forgot to update about my Thursday jump lesson! That’s right, juice cleanse + jump lesson = success?!!?

Um, maybe not.

But it was a very interesting one anyways. Circle jump with two skinnies (box and an arch) that we were VERY bad at, and even worse at angling…I just couldn’t seem to think fast enough/get my eye and brain going around the turn in time. Ha. Poor Oats was like WTF are we…doing?

Anyways, it was a pretty challenging ride and we didn’t even make it to the full course- I was exhausted! My legs were burning and I was huffing and puffing. Oats was quite sweaty, and seems to be sweating through his clip job in November, arghh.

My final course went like, circle jumps to the right, angle the arch (didn’t make it, had to go around and angle it correctly) to a small canter-in grid, to the circle jumps, jump across the diagonal, go large to a small verticle on the long side and then back to the circle jumps going to the left, and then over the ‘road closed’ on the long side, back to other verticle on the long side, with an angled jump over the arch.

PHEW!

Tiring I tell ya!

I couldn’t figure out if I was tired b/c of the juice cleans or just plain tired because it was a tricky and technical ride. I’m going to chalk that up to both!

No jumps and all poles and bending make me feel something something

Ohh yeah, I didn’t update this from my jump lesson on Thursday because it ended up NOT being a jump lesson, instead more like an exercise in frustration with poles! UGH!

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Miss jumping outside, and well, can’t we just just jump it? haha.

We did this crazy zig-zag course with like 10 metre canter turns and wow it sucked and we were bad at it. Like, really bad. Oats was dragging me through my outside hand, and for probably the first time ever my trainer was shouting at me to halt and then canter. Halt? Oats? His preferred gait is ‘standing around doing nothing’ so I was pretty surprised. But it was true…I was getting dragged and he was getting heavy and together we were going nowhere.

So the poles did not get put to jumps because we were kind of sucking at it so hard. I was sweating, Oats was sweating and it was just a lot of work and not the really fun type of work, the really hard type of work.

I then went home and pondered on it. Not fun but hard. Hm.

And practiced it a bit on Saturday (getting schooled again by the idea of a dressage canter and not holding a line to a pole correctly..ha). I let it go a bit on Sunday and schooled some easy lines to the World’s Smallest Xrails. Another trainer or kid likes to set jumps that are so small that I think Oats finds them hard to see, let alone jump! But I was also feeling kind of lazy (weekends, and a long run will do that to you). I left them and we schooled them.

All in all, ok. But man…Feeling like a plateau in my riding for sure. ARGH.

Your ambitions also inspire others

Dressage lesson on Tuesday (my last one for two weeks, as my lesson partner is away and I have other priorities for the next few Tuesdays as well). And we re-visited the ‘diamond of doom’ ha exercise from last week.

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It’s a particularly revealing exercise, because the horses both have absolute meltdowns at some point during it- revealing without mercy the holes in our training…Yikes.

We did it first at walk-trot-walk w/o stirrups, and then I did a few w/o stirrups walk-canter (but then had to take them back) and we did it both reins, in both gaits, and the second time we went to do it off the right rein- you guessed it- HISSY FIT city for both horses.

Oats was like, no. Just no. I am done. I have done this now TWICE and I am OVER IT.

I had to walk, cajole him ‘nicely’ into the exercise while he gnashed his teeth, huffed and puffed, ran backwards and swished his tail and threw his head down. He was pissed! Nevertheless….we persevered. It was ok, I can be calm and just.keep.asking. And wouldn’t you know, he let go of his pissy attitude and started coming around.

The trick here…Is to not buy into drama. And it is soooo tempting, the drama part. He gets all fussy and huffy and I want to get into it too! But, no. Calm, quiet, walking, boring. And eventually the drama goes away by itself, ha.

Karen reminded us that the exercise isn’t always ‘nice’ or perfect but the point of it is to keep doing it, and let it expose your weaknesses. And then don’t overreact when it does- that’s the point! Let it work, and the horses will figure it out- don’t worry about them huffing and fluffing around- they are confused and having a hard time with it. You don’t need to get into it with them.

We ended on a nice canter, and Oats was forgiving by that point, ha. Good pony.

A Halloween riding lesson

The horse knows when you know, and knows when you don’t know. Ray Hunt.

And boy, ain’t it the truth!

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So much candy…Aftermath

Last night was our semi-private dressage lesson with Karen Brain, and we worked on a VERY deceptively challenging exercise- a diamond pattern, using the dressage letters in the ring as a guide for the diamond.

The goal: Straightness to each letter, horse forehead lands on the letter, and then a mild pivot – front legs only- to the next letter in the diamond shape.

The reality? A muddle of lateral movement, extreme wiggling, fussy behaviour, sucking back behind the leg, throwing hips around, front legs move too laterally again…Oh it went on!

Also the reality: Riding lessons during Halloween night= nonstop fireworks. Constantly! UGH it felt like we were riding during some sort of war. The horses were as good as gold though and saved our butts. I think it also helped that the exercise was very technically challenging and required a lot of focus, so not a lot of ‘fluffing around’ time for them to start getting silly.

The exercise was at the walk, and then we’d go walk- canter-walk from each letter in the diamond shape. It became QUITE evident that the pieces would fall apart quickly here- and we, as riders, didn’t really know what we were doing…And the horses picked up on it fast.

Oats expressed his concern at the exercise by ‘dolphin-leaping’ instead of say, picking up a nice canter. HA. He did it a few times and luckily I didn’t get unseated, but I sure did lose my reins and had to collect them up in a hurry!

We got say, 2-3 nice transitions out of oh..100. And that is progress! It was a very tough and technical lesson, but everytime I got frustrated or annoyed, Karen was like this is hard, it’s hard for the horses and hard for you so just keep trying and something will work out. It did!

Lots of learning last night for sure.

We Got It Coming: Jump lesson!

Back to the indoor doesn’t have to be boring or draggy- in fact, it’s quickly becoming an opportunity to sharpen/refine our skills. Of particular importance, my bad habits of letting Oats motorbike around turns when we are jumping and kind of just ‘give up’. No longer!! This time I am GOING to fix that problem (five years in the making, but who’s counting?!).

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Man!

But yes, we worked on a particularly challenging course last night. Jump height-wise…Nothing impressive. But, we had a circle jump (hard for us), a skinny, some small barrels, a two-stride, and straightness!! to work on.

And it wasn’t easy, or very neat. But, we did improve throughout the ride, which is kind of what I’m going for. Things I am learning and hoping to work on this winter:

  • Fixing my corners, no more motorbiking/forgetting to ride/sitting up!
  • No pulling his head to the left over the jump!
  • No nagging with my leg. Let him relax, then GO for the jump, then relax.
  • Leg stays still.
  • Upper body stays still. Elbows are in shoulders are up.
  • Hands release, shoulders don’t release.
  • Adjustability in the canter.
  • No sitting back when I don’t see a distance and pulling up with my hands. Go with the flow.
  • Both reins used, with contact. This is a tough one for me, as I tend to want to only use one rein with the other flopping uselessly. I get afraid that too much contact will slow him down!

Sooo yeah, lots to work on. But, I did quite enjoy my ride 🙂