Road to Bronze 2017 May 14-25, 2017

The past two weeks Monarch and I worked on lateral exercises.  I feel his balance and response to my inside leg are much improved.  Through our training, his lateral reach is becoming longer, more rhythmic and fluid.  Today in my lesson with Dr. Susan Schneider, I had a big breakthrough in my understanding of engagement and throughness.  I now understand how the horse “pushes off the bit” to recycle the energy and come through.  In my daily goals, I was unable to develop a through canter with Monarch unable to make connected transitions between gaits and within the canter.  Today’s lesson gave me the missing link.  The feeling of riding a connected, through horse is highly addictive.  I look forward to taking my lesson from today even farther in our training.  Despite the spring winds and rain, I plan to train tomorrow.  I received a big confidence boost to meeting my training goal and earning my last qualifying score at Second Level.

JOURNAL ENTRY

Date: 5/25/17

Minutes of Training: 75

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Lesson with Dr. Susan Schneider: improve horse’s way of going by refining rider’s timing & feel in the suppling aids

Methods: 1. Begin on 20M circle in walk. Monarch was very tense today with an inverted neck, high head, hollow back, and ribcage against my inside leg. It was very windy, and he was not tuned into any of my aids. I shorten my reins and lengthen my arms. I can only move my hands by initiating the movement from my elbow. I hold the outside rein just in front of saddle, resting my hand on the wither. I open the inside rein and rest my hand on my inside thigh. I wait until my horse releases his neck and gives. This can take awhile at the beginning of the ride. I need to wait and continue to ride rhythmically, even when the feel gets strong as horse figures out the release. (If I release too early, I teach my horse that he is in charge.) My inside leg is used in the rhythm of the gait, to move my horse into my outside rein. I hold the reins quietly, (never massaging either rein), and as lightly as he allows, but as strongly as needed. As soon as he releases, I release. If my horse jerks the rein, I hold firmly with my core. The holding rein always comes from the core, not the fist. In the beginning when he is tense, I will release by bringing the inside rein about halfway back to the neck. (I never bring either rein backwards. During suppling, I move the inside rein out.)
2. Early in the suppling process, I need to re-supple every few strides. At this point, I continue to adjust and release as the horse releases. This is why I don’t bring the inside rein all the way back to the neck. My timing needs to be sensitive, quick, and proactive before he gets too far out of the bend and stiffens against me. I also need to pay attention to where in the arena he is most concerned. This is where I need to proactively begin to supple about a stride before he starts to stiffen.
3. As he begins to soften, I ask for the trot through the suppling inside rein. Again suppling needs to be sensitive, quick, and proactive. The rhythm of the trot with the suppling inside rein relaxes and connects my horse to me.
4. As my horse begins to relax and connect, I am able to hold both my rein close to the neck. My suppling rein only needs to move a small distance from the neck to supple. I need to continuously monitor and supple my horse. When he is connected and relaxed, I can do this with smaller, sublter aids. As my horse connects, he will push off the bit, recycling the energy and coming through. At this point, the contact gets stronger in a pleasant way. (Hard to explain this feel, but when you have it, you know it.)
5. I leave the center 20M circle at B or E, by using my inside leg to send my horse sideways on to the track to go large. This movement is a bending line, like a leg yield with bend. I can take into shoulder fore down the long side with a bending leg yield at each corner.
6. Repeat in both directions.
7. Return to the 20M circle in trot between B & E, and ask for canter. Again, supple through the transition. Repeat the supple steps in canter. Go large when the canter is supple and through. Ride shoulder fore on the long sides. Repeat in both directions.

Reflection: Suppling is the key to all qualities on the training scale. When any quality is lost, return to this suppling 20M circle. As we practice this, Monarch will become more confirmed in moving into the outside rein from the inside leg and the inside suppling rein will become more subtle. I need to monitor each stride and supple proactively to keep him in balance and through.

Next Steps: Practice these steps until they become ingrained in my modus operandi: this is how I reconnect and relax my horse when he becomes tense, looses balance, disconnects. Through practice, he will become confirmed in suppling to produce connection, engagement, and thoroughness.

DAILY GOALS:

5/22, 23, 24/17: horse- continue to develop & refine laterals- build strength & suppleness for thrust and reach; tune up collected canter  rider- focus on lightness & effective aids using Beth Baumert’s aids: shape, listen, act;  comments about training: when I focus on my effectiveness/lightness of aids, Monarch is much better.  Exercises: leg yield; shoulder-in; sh-in to travers; travers/renvers  in walk & trot; canter- 20 M circles trot/canter transitions; working canter/collected canter transitions.  lesson tomorrow

5/15-21/17: continue suppleness/laterals; balance/canter
comments about today’s training: add travers to exercises tomorrow; work canter transitions- working/collected (if Monarch doesn’t hold canter, work trot/canter, then collect for a few strides to walk canter transitions) Rider- focus on light aids

 

Road to Bronze 2017 May 7-13, 2017

This week we focused on laterals to improve engagement, straightness, and submission for the second level movements.  I was not feeling well this week and only got 3 training sessions accomplished.  Monarch is working well and learning a lot.  As you can see from this photo, he has settled down quite a bit.

black birds.jpg

JOURNAL & LOG ENTRIES:

Date: 5/12/17

Minutes of Training: 50

Horse: Monarch

Goal: practice exercises from yesterday’s lesson in walk. Keep poll raised, keep outside rein connection, keep horse active behind, keep correct bend in travers/half pass, build strength behind, improve connection, engagement, straightness, develop flow

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. warm up along rail & in supple circle with long neck, good rhythm, no diving
2. leg yield
3. shoulder-in to travers alternating position at each letter
4. leg yield/half pass zigzag

Reflection: Monarch was very good today. He learned a lot in the lesson yesterday.

Next Steps: repeat in trot

Date: 5/11/17

Horse: Monarch

Minutes of Training: 90

Goal: lesson with Susan, continue with:
1. raise poll (get chest & neck out of the way so hind legs can step through)
2. obedience to inside leg/spur- hind leg must step under and through and horse must not push ribcage against rider’s inside leg to escape the bend
3. continue exercises to develop strength in hind end

Will you continue this goal or make a new goal for next training?: yes

comments about today’s training: Next steps:
practice all laterals in walk, looking for horse to step through, bend, take outside rein contact
raise reins to guide horse to raise poll if he dives
use inside leg to get horse off inside rein
travers is hard- on long side go shoulder-in, change position, go travers, change at each letter
establish travers, then practice leg yield/1/2 pass zigzag

Date: 5/10/17

Minutes of Training: 50

Horse: Monarch

Goal: refine rider aids

Methods- be specific, give details: Use Beth Baumert’s exercises When Two Spines Align; Ch7 “Clear Aids” p79-83: prepare (1/2 halt, shape); listen (either give correction or give aid for action) action (movement or transition); listen (did aid go through? either give correction or praise)
learn exercises in walk, like learning a test, so they become automatic for schooling in all 3 gaits

Reflection: rider listening gives horse the necessary time to process and respond to the rider aids. This creates a dialog, instead of constant demands by rider. This also allows horse to become more independent- Uta Graf

Next Steps: practice in all 3 gaits

Road to Bronze 2017 May 1-6, 2017

JOURNAL ENTRIES:

Date: 5/4/17

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: lesson with Susan to educate horse to be prompt to inside leg and connected to outside rein.
Rider- improve feel, clarity & timing of aids
Horse- improve suppleness, connection, & straightness

Methods- be specific, give details: Use square exercise to diagnose and address holes in training.
1. Begin in walk using a small square. At the corner, stop forward movement, turn off inside leg- horse must remain straight, (yield his barrel) and cross with hind leg. Rider gives halt on outside rein to stop forward movement. Aid to turn, (yield) is given with inside spur. Outside rein may be needed if horse tries to evade by moving forward. Inside rein may be needed if horse evades by counter- flexed or -bent. Release aids and send forward on the next leg of square. When horse understands the exercise, use turn on forehand to blend the directions while horse continues to step.
2. in trot- make square larger- across short side at A,up 1/4 line to B; turn at B toward E, back down 1/4 line, etc. At each corner, transition to walk/ turn on forehand.
3. in canter- make square larger- 1/4 lines at V & P. Canter on 1/4 lines, transition to walk turn on forehand, trot across short side, transition to walk turn on forehand, back to canter down next 1/4 line, etc.

Reflection: We experienced the typical stiff left/hollow right errors/evasions. The exercise improved my clarity and timing and Monarch’s obedience. At first the aids were very strong. As Monarch learned the exercises and what I would accept- (Susan insisted on excellent turns, straightness, etc), the aids became much lighter. I am learning not to be so afraid of strong aids for teaching, because it allows the horse to understand what you are asking, and the aids become quickly much lighter. When the aids are clear, (even if temporarily strong), it is actually more comfortable for the horse.  When the horse is evading or confused by vague aids, (even if given lightly), he is corrected more often, so the aids become more constant and noisy. This is another paradox about training. Strong at first is the quickest way to light.

Next Steps: practice, practice, practice with intention toward excellence.

when under saddle, channel this energy for power, expression, and brilliance

Date: 5/3/17

Minutes of Training: 40

Horse: Monarch

Goal: improve lateral suppleness and submission through lateral work:
using Susan Schneider’s lesson directives; Uta Graf’s exercises in Section 1 “Effortless, but How” of Effortless Dressage; & exercises in Janet Foy’s book, Dressage for the not so Perfect Horse

Methods- be specific, give details: in walk; later in trot:
Leg yield across diagonal, head to wall, tail to wall in both directions (Janet Foy)
Leg yield out of circle on long ends, leg yield and supple through corner ridden as 1/4 circles (Susan)
Vary movements and exercises, ride forward, and encourage stretching in long frame- longitudinal stretch/look for horse to chew reins out of hand (Uta Graf)- after one section of leg yield, rode up the long side in forward trot or into a stretchy-chewy circle or did some forward canter work interspersed with collected canter in the circle.
As horse become fluid, work on flow from one movement to the next (Susan)
Shoulder-in- test fluidity, connection to outside rein, bend, submission, contact

Reflection: leg yield to right is weaker. I need to be very aware to keep my inside leg back so haunches do not fall out. This is particularly important as we get close to the rail, as he will stop effort and suck his shoulders to the wall, 2-4 strides before haunches. 

I also need to keep still with weight in the direction we are traveling and insist with good rider position/taps. When I try to muscle the movement- I lose my position (Jane Savioe)

Next Steps: Repeat lesson- focus on rider position. Spend more time on flowing from one movement or direction to the next. This was coming by the end of the lesson.

LOG ENTRIES:

5/1/17: Rider- practice relaxation, as described in Uta Graf, section 1/part 3
Horse- practice leg yield and other suppling exercises from same section & from last week’s lesson with Susan. Continue to develop quick response to light aids
comments about today’s training: lateral suppleness is coming. Still some spooks by M. Used the neck supple to connect to outside rein, which works well. Also, relaxed rhythm through rhythmic taps with whip or pulsing with inside leg work well to create a forward, relaxed horse. Strategies from both Susan and Uta.