Monday, August 26, 2013

No one puts baby in the corner

I used to hate lateral work, I found it tedious and a means to the end. Go side ways, move this or that,
look cool doing it. That was about it. My half passes lacked power, my pirouettes were interesting and that shoulder in could definitely be muddled through or cobbled together.

It wasn't until very recently (read: four weeks ago) that I really began to understand and find it useful beyond making whoever obedient to the leg.

Yes, prior to that I was sufficiently nagged to include more lateral work, and I did to some success. But, it was the same old thing.

After Alfredo's clinic, I caved in and started warming up in lateral work, not because I thought it was particularly useful at the time, but the way he related it to me made sense.

Basically long straight lines are served as cardio, they do warm the horse up, but not as thoroughly as it could get. The purpose of a warmup, as explained, is (along with several other reasons) is to mentally click the horse in, create a better balance and create flexibility.

I used to think a few laps around the arena and let the movements do the work, and we have liftoff. Until over four weeks ago, I was comfortably ok with this scenario and then I was introduced to this new way and perspective shifted.

The work is very basic, specifically shoulder in, haunches in on 20 meters (and variations on it). Different horse entirely, different human too.

I added in using the deep corners and making a working pirouette out of them. Part of this was for the horses, the other part was for me to make sure I was using my body in an effective way. Either way it's a neat exercise.

Push forward a few weeks, everyone was warming up more and more uphill, and mentally clicking into the work faster. I started building on the corner exercise again in regular work after I saw old tape of another rider. After the corner pirouette, I start to add in the half steps and pseudo-passage.

The ponies picked up on this way too well, and upcoming dressage competitions (I think we're out of the NDPC, because USPS decided to do naughty things) I've started to downgrade a lot of the new material.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rain Dance Maggie

My busy summer is coming to a close, and while it felt the summer that never was due to the weather (really, I think this is the rainiest I've had in a long time), and the lack of show miles.

I broke the showing hiatus last week with the young guys. Initially, it was going to be three weeks of showing in a row (schooling, HTBB, and then Meadow Lake) it ended up being: Hasslers, HTBB, and screw this we need to school.

The show went well, I could harp on lack of management, and other things, but really why bother? The boys did well, they didn't set the world on fire, but they got around, made their baby mistakes and ended up scoring decently. Fritz outscored Danzador in the in hand, while I disagree with the placing (and point spread), the consolation is that Fritz has been worked with for five months and has developed- Danzador has been ours for just about two months, and two weeks of that have been spent on a trailer. So in reality, I'm not worried.

Sinari has been going strong, to the point where I feel very confident entering her in the NDPC at PSG. She's handling the pi/pa/pir work (we've been doing a little every day) a lot better. It also makes me debate about bumping to the next level. As much as I want a move up show for I1, I want the two's to be more solid before I venture forth (she reeled off a set the other day) . There's been some debate about doing D@D with her as well, but I think I'll pass since it's fourth level and I really just don't want to go there again with her.

In other news-I've been writing for Horse Junkies United, a Canadian blog about the boys' prep up to Devon. You can follow along the adventures here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I booked the long way 'round

I have spent the last four or five days on the road. It's been more than incredible, even if I didn't have a horse with me.

I spent the last week at Hassler Dressage at Rivers Edge, managing the barn for Lendon's EDAP program. Rivers Edge is a wonder of a facility and is not only a flagship dressage facility but the standard setter for American dressage. It should be on everyone's bucket list of must-go-see.

There's not a lot to say because words for this experience are very limiting. I was surrounded by the top (Debbie, JJ, Scott, Courtney, Lendon) trainers and coaches in America today for five days straight. I feel incredibly lucky to get to watch and have a minor hand in helping develop good athletes and horsemen for the future. Perhaps I'll be lucky next time and get to bring one or two along with me so I can be a sponge.

I also picked up a lot of good techniques and exercises that I'm implementing with the herd. My current favorite is from JJ which involves the I1 or GP zig-zag (depending on your count), of half pass- walk, change bend canter half pass five strides, walk, change, ect. It really has set up for the wait and change of bend.

Coming back home wasn't difficult, I was looking forward to being back in my own bed and home for all of four days until I hit the road again this past Thursday with a bunch of babies to Ohio to compete at the Hotter than Blue Blazes. 

The horses, despite break, have been working well. Sinari, despite protests of not being able to sit against my hand, is doing great. We went through the same issues when I really started working the pirouettes. I suspect the added pressure of more collection is being a bit of a pest.The rotation of one more hack day (but still asking for this pressure while out) has helped out tremendously.

Danzador has been going well, I had the chiro look at him and she's really pleased with how he's developed his hind end so quickly (thank you lateral work, thou shalt not be shirked ever again). The weather has once again held us back from doing some serious hacking, but once that gets sorted we'll get back to trotting and cantering hills.

Show updates in a later post.