Monarch and I finished the year with one qualifying score at 2nd level, showing at Dressage in the Rockies at the Colorado Horse Park. Equitherapy and the Road to Bronze has moved to Cheri Isgreen Training Journal in conjunction with the USLF Journal Collaborative.
My training journal for this year’s efforts toward my USDF Bronze Rider Medal can be found on the USLF Journal Collaborative under members. Here is the link to my page:
The USLF Lovin’ Ours Lipz Journal Collaborative is open to all United States Lipizzan Members and their registered horses. The blog is available for all to read. It is of special interest to those who are interested in Lipizzan horses, ride dressage, & train young horses.
Thank you readers for making my blog successful. I will continue to blog about my road toward the USDF Bronze Rider medal in 2016. Stay tuned and share!
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.
Rocky Mountain Dressage Society is my regional chapter. This notice came as a complete surprise. Thanks go out to my horse, Monarch for working so hard and being so generous to let me ride him through my mistakes. I also wish to thank my family, especially to Kurt and Marissa, for all their support. Thank you to the rest of my family, who live too far to come see me compete, but follow my training and showing electronically. Thanks to my friends who support this new endeavor in my life, giving me encouragement and cheers. And finally, thank you to my trainer, Deborah Hindi, who has brought Monarch & I so far, through her belief in us, her knowledgable and generous training, her warm hospitality when I stay at her home to train, her invaluable coaching at my first show, and for being my very good friend!
I went out of town in mid-October to spend time with my husband and daughter for her 22nd birthday. On the way to Ft Collins, we dropped Monarch off with my trainer, Deborah Hindi. She said she would work the canter. When I returned the following week, I would spend the night at her house and ride Monarch for 2 days before bringing him home. We focused mostly on collected canter in the 10M circle. Deb straightened my asymmetries, we worked on the half halt to improve engagement, so he wouldn’t break to the trot. A few days later, Deb came to Montrose for an intensive clinic focusing on biomechanics, problem-solving, and continued training for all the Montrose riders. The format was a riders’ retreat with lots of discussion, lecture, and q&a.
For Monarch and me, the clinic was a huge breakthrough. Two days later, I am still walking on air:
Monarch and I finally figured out how to step through the rein to create more engagement in the 1/2 halt. On Saturday we worked and worked, but it wouldn’t come through. I told Deb, “sometimes he just needs to think about it.” On Sunday, we started right where we left off on Saturday. It wasn’t long before he could take the 1/2 halt at collected walk, so we moved into turn on the haunch. Riding with the analogy of “walking on ice,” I used the 1/2 halt to keep him connected & engaged, and I used the corridor to keep him balanced by diagnosing when the rein got uneven and using my leg on the side of the heavy rein to push him back into the light rein to reestablish an even connection & balance. When that went well, I took Monarch into collected trot on the 10M circle. This is where everything fell apart on Saturday. Now with clarity about what I was asking, he began to step through the rein into an engaged, collected trot. We worked on fine tuning my timing, so the corrections became smaller and smaller, as I caught him sooner and sooner. As that improved, we finished with medium to collected trot transitions on the big circle. Again we worked on Monarch accepting the 1/2 halt and stepping through the rein into engagement, and on me being able to refine my timing so the 1/2 halts became invisible. The trot work was amazing because he truly gave me his back. There was absolutely no bounce in the medium and it was easy to sit- this is the first time ever that I could sit a HUGE trot comfortably without using a ton of muscle to hold myself into the saddle. Now I understand how riders can sit those big movements. The key is establishing engagement and trust. I’ve learned that the work we do with our horses pays dividends beyond my wildest dreams. …..While we worked on “turn on the haunches,” I had the most amazing experience- When it became correct, the clarity and the feel was beyond astounding. I felt Monarch sending me intense, powerful feelings of clarity and understanding from his spine into mine. Through the connection, he was saying- “Here is the feel, here is the feel, here is the feel….” in this very rhythmic, correct way. I was so overwhelmed, I began to cry because he gave me such an intense feeling of generosity and connection. I had to quickly pull it together to continue with the lesson. It’s true what Alois Podhajski said, “ our horses, our teachers.” I am lucky to train with Deb, as she has become my interpreter to what my horse has to teach me.
GOAL: test Monarch for calmness and connection before taking him to Bosom Buddies Event Saturday, 10/10/15
METHOD: I cleaned up Monarch with Miracle Groom, then spray painted his mane and tail pink for breast cancer awareness. He was really suspicious of the hair spray, though he easily allows me spray him with insect repellent. I think the little paint ball inside the can and the paint smell put him on his guard. I bought the hair spray at Sally’s Beauty Supply, so it has to be safe for horses too. After he was cleaned with his new hair do, I hopped on him bareback with just a rope tied to his halter. I tested him for engagement and connection without a bit or spurs.
It was really fun. Today, as I put him “on the bit in collected trot” he got more and more engaged. It felt wonderful to ride. We trotted a good part of the 5K. Thanks to all who put this event together, and everyone who gave us a wave and a smile. We really enjoyed participating. Best wishes to all my Bosom Buddies.
OUTCOMES: Walk still much improved with lengthened strides. Trot became more and more engaged through the ride. It took him awhile to figure out how to round and become connected without a bit. When that happened, it was lovely and easy to hold.
REFLECTION: Riding bareback is such a gift from the horse, as they are not built to carry our weight. Riding bareback allows the feeling rider to receive so much feedback about how the horse is moving underneath her. Monarch lifted his back in a swinging rhythm; the trot was nicely engaged. He is ready for the Bosom Buddies event tomorrow.
GOAL: raise awareness for breast cancer by participating in the Bosom Buddies 5K Run/Walk; have a calm horse that can handle a variety of unusual stimuli without spooking or bolting; raise awareness for the lovely qualities of a Lipizzan
METHOD: We entered last. The runners left at 9AM and the walker went shortly thereafter. After tacking up, we went to the main event and rode through all the banners, loud sound system, etc, and entered the route. The walkers were about 1/2 mile ahead of me. When I was sure he was connected, I asked for a slow trot to help relax him and to catch up. As we crossed a street or came up to a group of walkers, I asked for Monarch to walk.
OUTCOMES: After the first kilometer, he became very engaged, and the collected trot became very lofty. Looking at our shadow, he looked lovely. It felt wonderful to ride. We trotted a good part of the 5K. Lots of well-wishers and admirers along the way. Lots of fun.
REFLECTION: Thanks to all who put this event together, and everyone who gave us a wave and a smile. We really enjoyed participating. Best wishes to all my Bosom Buddies.
GOAL: continue “hot off the leg” response from yesterday to improve quality of gaits and transitions; school canter-walk
METHOD: use Jane Savoie’s “Forward” strategies-
- Give a light leg aid
- No response, half-hearted response, or delayed response
- Correct him by sending him forward
- 100% response (99.9% isn’t good enough!)
For more information, visit http://www.janesavoie.com/how-to-make-your-lazy-horse-more-energetic/
OUTCOMES: Monarch has become more forward. Canter is very straight on the long side, and canter-walk is improving. We worked in the 15 M circle, because the only place in my arena big enough for the 20 M circle is at A.M. If we drill canter at A, everything else goes out the window, and I like how forward Monarch has become in that area. 15 M circles are more demanding. I need to be tactful and give plenty of rest breaks, as he gets tired. Then he goes from willing and working, to “humpy” and behind the leg. I did get 2 very nice canter down to walk transitions, both from left lead. We can build on that.
REFLECTION: Working away from A is helping with his forward attitude. Because he gets tired staying in the 15 meter circle, (the whole rest of my arena in width), I will intersperse canter circles with forward on the long side. We can 1/2 halt at B and E, circle and continue down the long side. As he gets better/stronger, we can circle at the intermediate letters and at C.