Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

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The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

Lollygagging

Had my dressage semi-private last night and it was HARD. The hardest part? Turning!

no-more

Feeling sorry.

I know, weird eh? Stopping at jumps, can’t turn properly…Bring on the training wheels, Oats and I are apparently regressing to kindergarten.

We warmed up well, though I could feel his tension/anxiety in the ring looking for things to spook at and be distracted by. We then moved to leg-yield all the way around the ring with walk/trot transitions up and down and up and down…It was challenging. Oats thought he could blow through my aids, and when that didn’t work, bluff me by moving his neck in but not his haunches. He was also staring around the ring like his eyes were on stalks, argh.

I am on to you, rotten pony!

I love you this much!

Sometimes, I hate you!

He had a few ‘I don’t wanna!’ moments, throwing his head around, swinging his butt in, hopping, kicking out angrily when I was like, no actually, you ARE doing this and you WILL do what I say. We worked through it, and I was fairly pleased with the end results (not perfect but still not terrible). Until…

We went to turn left and he blew through my turn-signal and dragged me through the turn. Oh no he didn’t!

That ended the more formal part of our dressage education. What followed was just freaking strength and making a decision, on my part- this was hard. My trainer Karen yelled at us to turn left! HARD! Then GO and release! Then turn again! And turn right, and go!

Oats – and I- were getting an education in turning. He has to turn (move front feet) when I say so, and I have to pick a direction and stick with it. No wishy washing, no lollygagging, no shitty little attitude trot from him. Nothing. Drag me through the long side? Sudden HARD LEFT.

Be spooky about the right corner? HARD RIGHT.

Literally all we did was turn- and go- and release- and hard turn- and go- and release.

I was dizzy!

I lost my balance a few times even!

Trainer says he was having trouble connecting his front half with his body and his hind part. So, he’s like oh sure turn my neck and swing butt out…Middle section???!!? = profit?!

It does feel strange to ride, that’s for sure. But by the end, I was freaking exhausted and he was trotting and turning nicely.

It felt very strange to have an lesson where I literally spun in turns, and trotted out so fast I got left behind. It improved, for sure, but woah. My riding definitely feels like it is in the training wheels stage right now.

Down a well of intensity

Well, not literally down a well, though my husband was a month or so ago!

In a well

In a well

I had a lesson with Karen and Oats yesterday, and MANNNN he was pissy! Fired up! Cranked! Kicking out! Ready to go! (not quite but as much as Oats gets).

I was like…WTF? Pissy, kicking out, etc etc etc. I guess the fall season really agrees with him, hahahahahah. That was the most forward he has been in months. Months!

So, we worked with what we had. Lots of gallops in the indoor, bringing him back, extreme bend, and when he wouldn’t bend, lots of circles to get the bend. Ideally, we wouldn’t ‘take him back’ too much and stifle his newfound energy because for Oats, being fired up is a good thing. So, we circled. Lots of circles.

And we tested his obedience to the bend/aids by getting the bend and his head down, and putting more leg on or a swift tap tap with the crop. Head flies up? NOT obedient to the bend! Get back to it.

Soooo it was a long and busy lesson with Oats charging full speed ahead, which is quite unusual for him. Twice I thought he bucked again but in reality one of those was a very good walk-canter transition, and another was a flying lead change left-right that felt very much like a buck.

The good? Karen doesn’t let me buy into his drama when I’m like ”Oh noooo he’s bucking again!!” she’s like, well that one was a kick out, not a buck, or that was just a good bum-first transition, not a buck…AKA nothing to see here, move along!

He was testing me bigtime with the kick-outs though. He pulled that move last week in my jumping lesson too. She said that is normal, he is trying to see what he can get away with before he gives up and goes ‘okay mom, we’ll do what you want.”

So, I just have to keep at it, and the fun part? The more forward he goes, the less chance he has to really rev up into a big buck. Mostly forward? Can kick out to express himself. VERY forward? No room at all for a buck or a kick out. It’s all in the gallop! Though I was still wimping out a bit when she got me to get after him. In the back of my mind was he’s going to buck you off!! So I wasn’t as strong as I could have been.

So, we worked on maintaining/keeping/controlling his expressive energy into circles instead of stifling him. He hates being stifled and for a slow pony, we have to be very careful we don’t get into that loop.

Very interesting ride. I was pondering it for hours after we finished. Oats was so tired, his lower lip was hanging down. He looked like an old man horse, hahah.

Personally, I’ve been feeling kind of angsty. I know last week I said I needed a ‘win’ and I’m still feeling like this. Usually that feeling goes away after a week, but right now…September just feels like one big long losing streak. Not ‘technically’ but emotionally.

Sigh. I am still in a well of intensity.