Category

cantering

cantering, dressage, dressage competition, natalie perry dressage, The Go Button

Ride Like You Mean It

This morning’s ride was a bit of a rough go.
I swear my horse reads my every mood and he knew I wasn’t totally present. Indeed, I was feeling a bit down and lacking in physical and mental fortitude.

Horses find dressage more challenging than grazing in pasture.


Micah finds the collected work to be much more difficult than grazing in the pasture and has started to complain a bit. He also hates marching at the walk — he was certain he owned that gait.
Today we did a run through of Second Level, Test One and Micah knew an imaginary judge was looking over my shoulder, critiquing the ride. When he balked in his canter transitions, rather than school him for it, I tried to ride on hoping the judge wouldn’t notice. I could feel the points slipping through my fingers. It was a miserable test.
Natalie gave me a pep talk about the Go button and Riding with Determination. After a brief break, we had at it again. This time I rode it like a cross-country course. We had to go or die.
Clever boy that he is, Micah sensed this and off he went. It was perhaps one of our best rides.
When show day rolls around, I’ll need to set aside hopes of high marks and, instead, focus on riding really, really well. (That’s supposed to be our focus, anyway, but let’s face it — we’re all hoping for blue ribbons.) I also need to be prepared to school any naughtiness without regard for the judge’s opinion. I’m sure she’s been there herself.
Next time I ride, I’ll put an ounce of determination in my pocket before I get in the saddle. My horse always knows when I’m carrying it.

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You’ve Gotta Have Go
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February 1, 2017
cantering, dressage, Improving the Canter, Outside Rein

Working Out with the Outside Rein

Today I practiced horse lifting. Yes, me versus 1,000 pound Micah. Micah definitely had the advantage.
As always, it was my fault. I had been gradually letting the right, outside rein slip … obsessing instead on getting bend to the left. Micah was training me more effectively than I was training him.

Today’s workout: me vs. Micah. Micah had the advantage


Things reached a head today, with Micah deciding he owned the outside rein and outside shoulder. He was blowing me off, ignoring my leg, and drifting to the outside. Not so bad at the walk and trot but a disaster at the canter.
Back to the Outside Rein and its importance! At the walk, we worked to regain my authority with both reins. We used the square exercise to move Micah’s shoulder over in response to my leg. We also used turn on the haunches to move the same shoulder over. Cover your ears, gentle reader, but it took some whacking with both leg and crop. (No horses were harmed during this exercise — I assure you I was working much harder than Micah was.)
We then progressed to making squares at the trot and canter. The trot improved quickly but the canter remained the sticking point.
Natalie put two poles across the arena and I used them to keep my steering accurate while trying to make canter squares (see Chocolate Covered Canter Squares, an earlier posting, for specifics of this exercise).
We made big improvement, mainly as the message to: USE THE OUTSIDE REIN made its way to my brain. My right arm may fall off.
Thankfully I have a day to recover before attempting this feat again. Wish me luck.

Related posts
You’ve Gotta Have Go
June 28, 2017
Ride Like You Mean It
April 25, 2017
I Wish You Rode
April 11, 2017
cantering, dressage, dressage lessons, equestrian, horse husband, natalie perry dressage

Post Lesson Euphoria

My husband is getting tired of hearing me say, “Best lesson EVER!” every Tuesday afternoon.
Poor man. Little does he know that he’s in a much better position than the husband whose wife comes home discouraged, tired, or — worse yet — angry after every ride.
I am a rider who is cheered by each ounce of progress we achieve on a weekly basis. I ride a wonderful horse, who is consistent and sane, yet makes me work at it. Any time we make progress I have the dual pleasure of knowing that I worked for it and an appreciation of the gift my horse gives me by choosing to go along with this crazy sport we call dressage. After much hard work, we are hitting our stride.
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Credit goes to my trainer, Natalie, of Natalie Perry Dressage. Natalie has figured out my quirks and foibles and works really hard to get messages through my helmet and into my brain and body. It’s no small feat.
After some time off, I had backslid a bit with the my nemesis, the left lead canter and Natalie took me back to the trot to address the problem. She had me turn Micah with the outside of my body onto and off of the center line. The exercise fully illustrated the importance of the outside aids, which is a total body experience. You simply can’t make such a tight turn by hauling on the inside rein much as you might want to. Every time I think I understand the outside aids, I find a new level of understanding and appreciation.
The outside-aid turn was just what I needed to help me to more effectively use my body in the left-lead canter. I practiced the exercise during the week and we repeated it again today, with the result of some truly beautiful canter work. It’s music to my ears when Natalie says, “You’ve been practicing.”
I hope it’s rewarding to her that I am listening, paying attention, and trying hard to incorporate what she teaches. Her job isn’t easy.
No matter what level we ride, we can make progress with the help of caring instructors and kind horses. Let every bit of improvement cheer and inspire you — letting both your horse and trainer know how much it means to you. We’re all in this together.

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cantering, dressage, leg yield, renvers, stirrups, transitions

Like Two Feet of Fresh Pow

I finally came up with an analogy to help my non-horsey husband understand why I’m cranky about leaving town right now.

I’m having so much fun with my horse and our barn community, I’m just not eager to leave. Micah and I are really starting to click. I’m dutifully working without stirrups, trying to improve my seat and memorize the feel of where my legs should be.

A minor adjustment to my position in the saddle made a huge difference in our last lesson. I was able to sit more deeply in the canter, with that mysterious sense of being ‘engaged.’ I want to own this. Micah came up and under me in a whole new way.

Last week's schooling show gave us great input as to what to work on next

Last week’s schooling show gave us great input as to what to work on next

I’d love another thousand hours of cantering without stirrups to help me get it right. Throw in transitions, leg yields, and changes of direction to challenge my stability. Add exercises like shoulder-in to renvers to make me move in the saddle without blowing my leg position. I love the challenge – both physical and mental.

Yet here we are, packing for a trip to Palo Alto. Not in the least bit a vacation destination. I am so grumpy.

“Imagine,” I tell my husband  “that it’s ski season and you get two feet of fresh pow.” (That’s ski-language for fresh powder, also known as ‘freshy.’ )

“Oh,” Al said, with a glimmer of understanding. Al’s the kind of ski-nerd who’ll get up early to put first tracks in the pow. He’d be crying if we were leaving town after a fresh snowfall.

Al on the slopes, his happy place

Al on the slopes, his happy place

“That’s how I feel,” I told him — although what I have is WAY better than even the best day on the mountain. Counting the days until I find myself back in the barn, working on attaining balance and feel.

Related posts
Working Out with the Outside Rein
February 1, 2017
Remembering to Ride the Outside of the Horse
December 1, 2016
The Elegance of Elbows
November 28, 2016
cantering, dressage, horses, riding

Going to Great Lengths

In the past few weeks, my canter work with Micah has undergone a significant transformation. With a schooling show right around the corner, that’s good news.

Originally, Micah’s canter was on the forehand and felt like more of a ‘careen’ than a canter. Although I had basic steering, it certainly wasn’t power steering. I didn’t want to mow down anyone in our path — which is why Natalie kept us on the 20 meter circle for what felt like ages.

To clarify, with a better rider on his back, Micah was/is fully capable of a beautiful, balanced canter. The learning was on my end.

IMG_0431

Micah accepts a sugar cube, in payment for a job well done. He’s not worried about that cow in the background & is also ignoring that fantastic view of the Cascades.

Unable to resist playing tricks on the rookie rider, Micah enjoyed pulling me forward, out of the saddle. At the same time, he’d ease the reins out of my hands, making sure he was in charge. I’m quite sure he kept score and gave himself a bonus point every time he outsmarted me.

Continue reading…

Related posts
Working Out with the Outside Rein
February 1, 2017
Remembering to Ride the Outside of the Horse
December 1, 2016
The Elegance of Elbows
November 28, 2016