Goal: Coaching with Susan; overall goal to improve engagement through asking Monarch to step under his belly with his inside hind leg. We began by focusing on releasing the base of the neck to increase his stride and thrust. Then we worked on fluency through change of direction- walk and trot.
Methods- be specific, give details: warm-up: release base of neck with a suppling inside rein on long side and adding inside leg at girth asking Monarch to bend and move his barrel to the outside of the bend in the corners. After each release, I rode him forward into the contact.
Trot- same work in walk. As he stiffened on the long side, take Monarch into a supple circle- 20 M at first and smaller as he became more supple. then back on long side. Be vigilant to catch the horse beginning to stiffen, so correction can be quicker and more subtle before he loses suppleness. Avoid a big correction by giving many small suppling aids.
Aids to supple- Support neck with outside rein, bringing inside rein away from the neck. In the beginning, this required resting my inside hand on my knee. Later, the supple aid was much smaller. In the bend- circles/corners, put inside leg/inside spur on before opening inside rein. (Goal is to teach the horse to release as soon as he feels the inside leg, before the inside rein is needed.) As soon as the horse releases his neck, bring both hands together and ride forward into the contact. Feel for the difference the horse gives in each rein. The stronger the hind end becomes, the more even the contact will be.
In the walk-trot transitions, the horse must keep neck long and relaxed as he pushes into the bit through the hind end.
Part Two- fluidity and strengthening: begin a circle in walk or trot. Keep inside leg on to encourage the bend in ribcage and step of inside hind to step under and over. Feel for the horse moving laterally, as in a leg yield, as he steps under. Support with a suppling inside rein as needed. As we approach the center of the figure 8, change the bend with new inside leg/spur. Supple as needed. If horse takes most of the circle to change the bend, do another circle before asking him to change the bend.
Exercises- 10 M connected circles down the centerline A-C in walk. 20 M connected circles down the centerline A-C in trot. 20 M trot serpentine- begin at A in both directions, so work is equal on both hands. Leg yield zigzag rail to centerline on both hands. Leg yield zigzag centerline to quarterlines on both hands. Halfpass zigzags. Work zigzags in both walk and trot- aim for fluency and engagement
Reflection: After training for the past 3 days, I realize that when Monarch gets tired, he loses rhythm and fluency. This takes great strength and needs to be built slowly and consistently. Monarch needs lots of rest when he is working deeply. Intersperse work with straight and forward in first position along the rail and big circles.
Next Steps: Continue the work for the next several weeks. To prevent injury, do cavaletti and hillwork to continue the work with variety to prevent injury and boredom.
8/6: strengthen hind end for increased engagement and fluency
8/5: goal 1-improve suppleness- release tightness at base of neck; goal 2- strengthen both hind legs to improve engagement for reach and thrust. When asking Monarch to step under his belly in bending movements he loses rhythm because of lack of strength to step so deeply. This will be our default goal for the next several days. Increase supplements to help build muscle & improve recovery.
8/3: coaching with Susan- (see journal entry above)
8/1: calm, straight, forward comments about today’s training: this classic goal from the Old Masters became the default goal after Monarch decided there were multiple wild cats and mountain lions lurking behind every bush and shadow just outside the arena. When he wouldn’t supple out of his tension from the saddle, I switched to longe work. This was a safety decision, and a good one. Discretion is the better part of valor. I was able to remount at the end android him safely calm, straight, and forward. When a horse is tense, it is impossible to straighten him, and he is never on the aids or in front of the leg.
7/30: rider- position and effectiveness of aids/horse- engagement
4/15/17: practice neck supples, poll flexions, long neck/long arms/ short reins in all 3 gaits.
Minutes of Training: 2 hour lesson
Goal: Continue to improve movement through freeing the blocks
Methods- be specific, give details:
1. supple circle is now very good. Blocks in neck are released- build on this by refining the suppling through poll flexion & counter flexion.
2. Free the shoulder, open the chest, and raise the poll to allow the horse to step through to the bit. When the horse dives,curls, or jigs- give a 1/2 halt with the upper body- (raise my ribs & chest; vibrate outside rein.) When the horse raises his poll, lightly touch him with both spurs to encourage him to step under and through from behind to the bit.
3. To encourage a long neck- lengthen arms to shorten reins. Hold the reins with the thumb on top of the index finger & open all the fingers. Play lightly with the reins to give aid.
Reflection: When the work is correct, the horse is happier and in better balance. Because it is easier for him to move, he tends to work harder. This is a paradox. When the work is correct, the horse works harder because it is easier!
Next Steps: Practice the 3 skills/strategies from this lesson. Get very comfortable with poll flexion to supple, moving the horse into the bit, and lengthening the neck. Continue to refine aids- get lighter by improving coordination. This will come from practice to develop muscle memory. Also Monarch is very good at giving feedback; he tells me when my aids are good, when they are too strong, and when they are too weak.
4/12/17: Test rider position, especially in canter; test horse response to aids. comments about today’s training: We had perfect connection today. Monarch was on my seat & light to the aids, so I must have been light & in time in giving the aids. Travers was weak yesterday, (he evaded through avoiding the bend; more a leg yield). To support the bend, we practiced travers in walk on the circle, then in trot on the circle. He was bent and very willing, but he lost impulsion. Maybe try practicing earlier in the schooling; also do other exercises to strengthen hind legs to accept the weight.
Minutes of Training: 60
Goal: Improve rider position, particularly the left leg, for increased effectiveness of rider effectiveness. Also focus on giving the release immediately after the horse releases in 1/2 half, (outside rein), & the suppling rein. (inside rein.)
comments about today’s training: Monarch was super today . I was able to keep my left leg forward in the left lead canter and only use the spur every 2nd or 3rd stride to renew the jump. My timing is improving. His focus and understanding was very prompt & accurate. I am able to use the inside leg to the outside rein correctly in suppling and connecting my horse. I am able to put the spur on and off gently in the correct rhythm to create a lighter ride. I can use the spur and 1/2 halt, then release to create a very forward medium sitting trot. I am able to sit the big trot with softer elbows and following back.
next steps: Practice canter-walk transitions on serpentine, then on center line with simple changes of lead. Horse should remain relaxed and supple through transition.
Minutes of Training: 60
Goal: Practice ideas/skills from lesson last Thursday: Use suppling circle to create balance and engagement in all three gaits. Focus on riding “perfect” circles.
Will you continue this goal or make a new goal for next training?: yes
comments about today’s training: Horse was very tense and resistant in the beginning of ride in the H-C-M part of the arena. Through patience and insistence that Monarch release his tight blocks in his neck, I rode many supple circles at walk until he was loose and relaxed in all parts of the arena. By the end of the session, Monarch was very loose and attentive to the aids. We achieved our goals in all three gaits.
next steps: work on rider position, test left leg independence in left lead canter
I managed 2 days of training this past week. My lessons with Susan are so amazing. The canter is much improved, based on suppleness and balance which produced “throughness.”
4/6/17: lesson with Susan Sneider. In my lessons, we haven’t been doing any figures or movements- we just work on beautiful circles: walk, trot, canter. You would think this would be boring, but it is infinitely interesting, because she is helping me to unblock my horse and shape him. The fine tuning is forcing me to be a much more sensitive rider, also much quicker, with lighter aids. Even if we spend a whole year on the circles, I know that this will lead to setting him up for success in any movement. Today the canter was just amazing, and it all came out of her system of suppling, aiding when he starts to lose balance/suppleness, and making those aids as small as possible, (but as much as needed.) I am working the next 2 days at galleries out of town, so I can’t practice until Sunday. Judging from my experiences with Susan, I know I’m getting there…. Our horses don’t need training- we do! My goal for Sunday: use what I am learning from Susan “to increase the length of our perfect moments, which are coming together more consistently”………………quote from Chris Crowhurt
4/5/17: practice for tomorrow’s lesson. Rider- improve seat- sit on pockets; improve feel- look for the release Horse- improve sensitivity/prompt response to aids
Last year I was very busy getting the Loving our Lipz Journal Collaborative up & running, an online, interactive program for the United States Lipizzan Federation. I forgot to include my training here, as well. I will update all of last year in the next two blog posts with my training log posted here and the in-depth journal entries posted next. We learned immensely moving from first to second level, and even more showing at second level. I was thrilled to earn one of my qualifying 2nd level scores. My plan is to show on Labor Day weekend 2017 for my second qualifying score at 2nd level, then move to 3rd. Training in 2017 is moving along well, and the work we did last year is paying dividends in a stronger, more connected horse.
11-14-16: Horse- improve rhythm by going more energetically forward with connection
Rider- refine rider position, timing & lightness of aids comments about today’s training: I use a gentle snaffle and a fairly light touch on the rein. I learned that the lightness and subtlety of my hand can be dialed way down and still be effective. Even a light touch was too much in the hand for Monarch, interfering with his forward rhythm. Today Monarch taught me to always listen and to make sure communication is a dialog, never a monologue.
11/13/16: Learn the George Williams rhythm exercises. comments about today’s training: Monarch continues to be resistant in the warm up- particularly in rising trot. He improves after lateral work, and particularly when I work him sitting, rather than rising. I’m not sure how soon to go to sitting trot. By the end of our session, he is nice and forward and listening. It takes about 60 minutes. I think this could be caused by one of 2 things. Either he is burned out by all the hard arena work we did this summer, or he isn’t being worked every day, so his condition isn’t up to the level he was at this summer, creating a resistance to hard work. Once we get going, he seems to click into the work and become forward. I can’t be as consistent about training this fall as I was in the summer, so I will explore the Hillary Clayton fitness exercises for keeping him in better shape. This takes the emphasis off school figures. It may keep his mind fresher.
11/12/16: borrowed a 30″ cinch today, which will work with my horse & saddle. Trail ride on Spring Creek Mesa. Monarch was quite forward in the trot. I think the saddle fits him well, and he is quite comfortable wearing it. This will be a good trail and mountain saddle.
11/11/16: Test western tack comments about today’s training: cinch did not fit, so I hopped on bareback & worked on basics. He was very sticky in the beginning and very forward by the end.
11/8/16: lesson day with Tilly and Jasper- lead quietly with Jasper; teach steering to Tilly with clip reins to halter, seat work on longe line-first day riding in saddle, work to keep seat soft & following in trot
11-7-16: busy day/not much time to ride- just want to keep up momentum I began with yesterday’s dressage training. Play day- riding without tack- many turns, halts, laterals comments about today’s training: at first he did not understand what I was asking. After repetitions and showing him with ropes tied to halter, he did get the idea, so I could steer and stop without using the ropes. I found that I needed to 1/2 halt very strongly with my seat before I could turn him smoothly. I love how we teach each other.
11-6-16: travel to new arena- test riding connection and fitness after having a few weeks off from training. Test balance of saddle after reflocking. comments about today’s training: saddle was beautifully balanced. Monarch was attentive and giving me his all. We are both not fully fit, so dressage training in future will need to reflect need for rest periods and light work interspersed with heavier demands.
11/2/16: ground work with Tilly. Retrain, so Monarch is not explosive in canter. I want him to go quietly from walk to canter. comments about today’s training: He was fairly good about the walk canter depart- with only 1 balk and no buck. Tilly only rode him in walk-trot.
10/27/16: Took Monarch to saddle shop in Grand Junction for 2 saddle fittings. He had to stand quietly in the parking lot of a busy area of Grand Junction- shop is located along a 4 lane divided highway. comments about today’s training: He was nervous at first, but did settle down. As suspected, the left side of saddle needed reflocking- it was bridging and slipping. I want to explore how this affects his resistance. Also, I ended up purchasing a lightweight western saddle fitted; now take him on more trail rides. Again to keep him fit and interested, as we slowly return to dressage train in a more relaxed, less intense training schedule.
10/26/16: give longe lesson to Tilly; continue this goal; comments about today’s training: He was very resistant in the canter. Tilly was a star, very brave, staying on through his resistance- some rearing and bucks. I will need to work with him on calmly going forward on longe in canter. I think he is getting burned out, as referenced in 10/19/16 log, though groundwork 10/17 & 10/11 was very good. I need to explore this behavior.
10/19/16: build strength & stamina; review lateral work from yesterday; finish with a hack focusing on engagement in collected and medium trot. comments about today’s training: outside the arena, one can really get good engagement. I think Monarch is a bit burned out from all the dressage training we did this past summer. I need to develop a training system that allows him to stay strong & supple, continue to advance and provide interesting and/or relaxing activities to prevent him from getting sour.
10/18/16: enjoy the fall; hack out comments about today’s training: It was windy, & Monarch was spooky. After riding down the road, I realized it was not safe to hack out. I returned to the arena to reestablish trust & connection with lateral work. Shoulder-in always seems to solve my problems. That’s why Shoulder-In is the classic exercise- it can address a variety of issues. Today we worked on controlling the shoulders- this exercise came from Jane Savoie: ride from shoulder-in to tranvers, keeping the bend and line of travel, just changing the position of the shoulders. I was amazed at how well this exercise worked. I feared that I would not be able to hold the line of travel and bend when I changed position of shoulders.
10/17/16: groundwork to reestablish trust & connection
10/15/16: Trail Ride- Mesa Rim Trail, Grand Mesa comments about today’s training; : Amazing ride, Monarch was super. Went with 2 other riders and their seasoned horses. When we got to the edge we could see literally more than a 100 miles!
0/11/60: build stamina through longe: w-t-c
10/10/16: Review lessons of clinic- moving the feet when Monarch becomes dominant and resistant
10/8/16: Trailer to a busy barn to train. Load last into a 3 horse slant. Deal with commotion of busy barn, many horses in tack area and arena comments about today’s training: much better work ethic today. Spent a long time in the walk getting both of us loose
10/7/16: review 2nd level engagement & quality of movements before clinic comments about today’s training: Monarch was resistant, and I didn’t have enough time to work out submission to get good quality. Never move ahead until the basics are established, no matter how long it takes.
9/16/16: improve travers for 2nd level tests
horse- position, bend, engagement
rider- position, weight
trail ride post schooling
9/14/16: bareback dressage- rider position & balance
9/12/16: Return to work on 2nd level- refining quality of gaits & improve shoulder-in through strengthening horse, attention to rider position, & use of uberstreichen to keep horse honestly on outside rein with good positioning. comments about today’s training: yesterday’s bareback session paid off today with a super responsive horse & fabulous 1/2 halts- like downshifting a sportscar for increased power & engagement:)
9/11/16: renew horse/rider connection: create sensitivity in horse for prompt, honest acceptance of aids & in rider position for aids to “go through.” comments about today’s training: I need to remember to train bareback weekly to keep me sensitive to my rider position and his response to the aids.
9/4: trail ride- walk, trot, canter
9/3/16: rider position, test shoulder in with ubersteichen; test horse impulsion- no spurs
Aug. 5-7, 2016: Dressage in the Rockies 3 Day Festival, USEF/USDF recognized show; showing 2nd level tests 1 & 2 each day, plus warm ups, grooming, walking on grounds, etc… comments about today’s training:
We received our first qualifying score at 2nd level! I am now halfway toward earning my USDF Bronze Rider Medal. I ve learned so much and feel confident about earning the second score. I am out of time and money for this season. Will continue to pursue that second 2nd level score next year. top row: trot work bottom row: canter work
8/4/16: final schooling on the Colorado Horse Park grounds before 3 day recognized USEF/USDF horse show- 2nd level; setting into stall, walking around show grounds, bathing, braiding, etc…
8/3/16: last training with Deb, (my trainer), before leaving for Parker, CO to compete in Dressage in Rockies Festival- showing 2nd level
7/31/16: same as yesterday. One more day to practice at home before we leave for Gunnison/Doyleville for final training. We leave for the Colorado Horse Park on Thursday.
7/30/16: Practice 2nd level movements and improve quality by focusing on timing, balance, and precise aids. comments about today’s training: Laterals need more consistency with impulsion and angle. Right lead counter canter is becoming more balanced. Half halt from medium to collected gaits is finally coming through. For Monarch, the key is to ask for flexion, then the half halt. This in turn allows Monarch to rebalance and come back to the collected gaits, making the half halt & transition easy and light. The simple change from canter to walk needs more balance. In the up transition, sometimes Monarch needs better focus. When I lightly shake the inside rein, it seems to both create inside flexion and get his attention. Then I can step down on my inside stirrup, slide my outside leg back, and ask for the canter with inside leg at the girth.
7/19-28: 7/19-21 practice 2nd-1 test with trainer before Autumn Hill show; 7/23-24 Autumn Hill 1 hour each day with warm up arena + test before a judge; 7/27-28 work with trainer to learn 2nd-2 test; ongoing goals until end of show season comments about training: second level is a huge jump from first level- the degree of power and engagement makes the 1/2 halt a critical component in adjustability between & within the gaits. In my 2nd level debut, the first test lacked impulsion. We were able to do all the movements, but lacked the quality required for 2nd level. In my second test, we had tons of impulsion, but my horse was not through enough to accept the 1/2 halts, so we had many mistakes- missed canter leads and transitions. Working at my trainer’s after the show, I was able to find the feel and create the longitudinal suppleness necessary to create the transitions within the gaits, particularly the transition from medium to collected canter. With this new-found adjustability, test riding is beginning to become fun, but still very physically & mentally demanding, particularly at my age and level of health with my back and knee issues. It’s a steep learning curve for one who has never had the opportunity for advanced training or ridden a schoolmaster. At age 64, it’s now or NEVER!
7/17/16: horse- develop poll suppleness for engagement in shoulder in
rider- develop rider feel for small corrections and effectiveness
7/16/16: weekend clinic- work on 2nd level test 1 quality of movements, focus on canter
7/15/16: review work from Gunnison training: Horse- suppleness in poll/submission
Rider- timing, feel, effectiveness of aids
7/14: suppleness thru poll, submission, willing & effective 1/2 halt, plus timing the small adjustments needed to ride the 2nd level movements
7/13: suppleness thru poll, submission, willing & effective 1/2 halt
7/11/16: Practice 2nd-1; focus on preparation, 1/2 halts, directives: engagement, bend, transitions comments about today’s training: He was sore on right hind- very noticeable in R canter, 1/2 steps, and rein back. Adjustment to goal- work on loosening through lateral work and rein back at walk & trot. Will give him the day off tomorrow. Then assess Wednesday night, when I go to my trainer’s to work.
7/10/16: Learn 2nd-#1 test patterns; practice movements & DIRECTIVES comments about today’s training I am much better in creating the engagement in my horse that allows him to move with expression and power. This will improve with fine tuning my position and timing.
7/9/16: longe- connection & engagement
7/8/16 : improve collected canter thru more engagement, especially in counter canter comments about today’s training: We had good success today on the left lead- usually his weaker side. I felt the half halt come through. As a result- his back came up and he was carrying me “like a princess.” What a fabulous feeling of both grace and effortlessness. On the right, he kept falling through the inside shoulder. It took a great deal of effort and focus to bring him up. I used a HUGE half halt, and then that lovely feeling of carrying power came back on the other side. I suspect I will be able to bring him up more quickly and with far less effort in the future. As Podhajski said, “my horses, my teachers.” I am learning so much!
7/6/16: Develop engagement for collection in trot and canter by
~Rider position & effective aids
~Horse becoming sensitive & prompt responding to aids comments about today’s training: Strength is coming. Monarch is better able to hold the counter counter and stay in collection; he is teaching me to be a more effective rider.
7/4/16: rider position & effectiveness of aids
horse- focus on aids; develop engagement & strength in canter work
7/3/16: engagement & trail ride comments about today’s training: I’m teaching a young girl to ride. We took a trail ride after I schooled Monarch for about 30 mins. As she rode behind me, I found I could explain the concepts we have been working on- the swing in the walk, keeping even rhythm, timing, when to sashay & when to follow the horse’s movement, etc. by having her feel what my hips were doing, and by pointing out how the horse feels when I do certain things.
7/2/16: Monarch will give longe lesson to young student rider- he must be obedient, calm, safe, and move with engagement.
6/30/16: improve collected true & counter canters
6/28/16: improve collected movements- strength and stamina
6/22-23/16 Work with Deb in Gunnison- test quality of 2nd level movements & make improvements where needed comments about today’s training: Monarch drops his shoulder through his chest which blocks engagement. Strategies: 1/2 steps; counter-flextion for no more than 3 strides, then true flexion; strong 1/2 halts to balance and free the front end; 1/2 halt with inside leg to outside rein to reestablish the outside rein contact. NEVER POWER THROUGH A MOVEMENT- if it doesn’t happen from the first aid, ALWAYS go back and prepare him, so he can move with balance and power. The horse powers/the rider prepares.
6/20/16 horse- stamina in collected & counter canter rider- position & effectiveness of aids comments about today’s training: worked the figure 8- 10m collected canter/20m counter canter; could not hold counter canter- will make this easier by working with shallow serpentine loops until he holds the counter canter in a 20m serpentine loop. Then will work the serpentine down to C and back up to A.
It turned very hot this week. I need to be able to get up earlier and ride by 8 AM. I am not very strong in the morning. I am getting up 15-30 mins earlier each day, and getting on 30 mins earlier each day.
6/19/16 horse- strength & obedience in collected canter rider- confidence and clarity in collected canter; timing & position in walk/collected canter depart; position & timing turn on haunches comments about today’s training: quick tap with whip in shortened walk just before canter depart creates uphill animation and energy in the collected canter
6/18/16 lunge- horse fitness; ride bareback- rider aids and position
6/17/16 practice and review work from Deb; get stronger & build on this work
5/25-26 Ride 2 lessons in Deb Hindi clinic- build on what we have been working on- 2nd level movements, rider seat & position, develop deeper engagement
5/21 Test rider balance and position- practice all movements from Deb sessions and reproduce the feel and quality at home on our own
5/20 practice all movements from Deb sessions and reproduce the feel and quality at home on our own
5-18/19-16 Travel to Gunnison to work with my trainer, Deborah Hindi. She has had my horse all week. After Thursday’s lesson, I will take him home. comments about training:
This week has been amazing-
Deborah riding my horse for a week while I was on the Front Range.
Having 2 working sessions with my physical therapist
Training for 2 amazing days with Deb.
Here’re the highlights:
Deb reported that when she got on him, there were no holes! (As she trains and competes in Wellington, Fla all winter, we don’t see her until the following May.) She said I had done a really good job bringing him back to work after the winter. She worked all the 2nd level movements. He worked well, was forward, balanced, and on the aids. Monarch is very similar to her stallion; they both share the problem of dropping their shoulders in travers. She had really good success with introducing her horse to the double, and we played with a modified draw/curb rein. When I rode, we first refined my aids in shoulder-in/haunches in, then created a hypersensitivity to my seat in shoulder-in, travers, & simple bending circles, then on to creating clear transitions in collected to medium trot. (No aids except my seat- it felt fabulous to have a horse so tuned into my seat and so responsive.) Building on that, he gave me the most amazing 1/2 steps in the same exercise- 10 M circle shoulder-in, travers, & bending circle. Later we worked the collected canter in the 10 & 20 M circle from the collected walk. The depart was huge!! I could feel what the pirouette will become. It was really good work. He is somewhat weak in right hind, so the 10 M left canter circle in shoulder fore in preparation for the pirouette was hard to hold. Deb was so pleased with my PT work. (Me too- it gave me such confidence.) I now have a left leg, and I can place it in any position I need to create the movement I need. This past week has been such a gift!!
5/10/16 RIDER: develop strong awareness of rider position through continuously checking in on seat, legs, ankles HORSE: improve the quality of impulsion, 4th level of the training scale in all 3 gaits. Use mantra ,”sit like a princess; move like a king” for the two of us. If things fall apart, don’t push; rebalance and start again.
5/7 & 9/16 improve collection through 10 m circles and counter canter
5/3/16 Hillwork to continue building strength and stamina for my horse & to improve 2nd level canter work. Canter and trot uphill; engage hind end to walk downhill. comments about today’s training: Getting out of the arena resulted in a really forward horse. Now I can build on yesterday’s goal- use rider position to improve canter; I will focus my next work on 2nd level canter movements- serpentine with the simple change and counter canter in bending lines and along the track. Instead of combining the canter movements, as in a 2nd level test, I will work on separate movements, and combine the canter work in future schooling.
4/30/16 Continue to build strength &
stamina,- horse; continue to improve rider position- work in canter & counter canter today
4/28/16 suppleness & connection, comments about today’s training: original goal was to work the canter serpentine. He was quite spooky, so knowing you ride the horse you have that day, I made a quick adjustment. I used Janet Foy’s “spooky horse” techniques, especially bending and flexing away from the problem, while “keeping the line of travel scared.”
4/26 Horse is honestly forward from the leg; (continue, build on this goal- comments: He was so behind the leg and humpy, I almost gave up. By the end of the lesson, I had a lovely, forward horse in all gaits. I am glad I did not give up.)
4/25 increase stamina- cavalletti
4/24/16 increase stamina- horse & rider
4/22/16 obediently forward in connection; rider confidence
4/13/16 horse- obedience & suppling; rider- consistency (Same plan as yesterday, except not riding bareback. About 1 minute into the warm up yesterday, Monarch did a huge spook- leapt about 10’ sideways. He felt all bunched up like he would buck or bolt, but he came right back to me. I was amazed at how balanced I was sitting- stayed in the center of his back through the sideways leap. I also stayed fairly calm, but today I put on a saddle and really worked on suppling at the walk with lots of laterals. At the end, we ended with some nice 1/2 pass. I will try walk-trot tomorrow. It’s so weird that I was so nice & calm yesterday, but felt so cautious today. Well we ended on a good note and needn’t remediate tomorrow. Upward and onward…….)
4/6/16 Rider- test position, maintain balanced alignment; Horse- positive response to “go” aids
3/19/16 attend Winter Wake-Up clinic
3/17/16 Monarch- after a week off, reestablish obedience and forward desire.
Me- using my new posture from P/T, ride with left leg forward (at girth) and heel out
A CONVERSATION BETWEEN BROWEN CLEARY & CHERI ISGREEN ABOUT THEIR APRIL 12-13 TRAINING:
Bron- I did your same plan yesterday, (quiet bareback ride to develop relaxation & suppleness.) About 1 minute into the warm up, Monarch did this huge spook- leapt about 10’ sideways. He felt all bunched up like he would buck or bolt, but he came right back to me. I was amazed at how balanced I was sitting- stayed in the center of his back through the sideways leap. I also stayed fairly calm, but today I put on a saddle and really worked on suppling at the walk with lots of laterals. We ended with some nice 1/2 pass. I will try walk & trot tomorrow. It’s so weird that I was so nice & clam yesterday, but felt so cautious today. Well ,we ended on a good note, and needn’t remediate tomorrow. Upward and onward…….
Cheri- I think we have gone through some very similar situations, and that’s why we connect. A lot of people really don’t understand, so it’s not always easy to talk to people about it either. Unless you’ve gone through that whole fear cycle yourself, you don’t get it!
I’m glad you kept your seat so well (I’m sure an added advantage of the core strengthening you’ve been doing!) and also that Monarch came back to you so fast. I have found myself that although I am extremely calm in an ‘event’, there is a price to pay afterwards, as I lose some confidence and sometimes have to take a few steps back over the next few days. It has always seemed so illogical to me – especially if you have handled the ‘event’ well (as you did), then you would think you’d be even more pumped the next day, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. Sigh. I try to be patient with my cautious days, rather than forcing myself into a place where I’m not comfortable at that particular time. Wishing you a lovely ride tomorrow! B
Thanks Bron- that’s where I’m at too- patience for the cautious days, because otherwise I get out of my comfort zone and way beyond my zone of proximity, (learning theory jargon for the zone where you are a bit uncomfortable & where you can push and learn.) When I get into the anxiety zone, I just make up a bunch of “crap” reasons why I am too busy to go ride. C
to Cheri: LOL, love the ‘anxiety zone’!! Yes, been there and make the same crappy rationales about why it’s entirely impossible for me to ride that day! :)B
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.
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.
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.
Here we are in July riding a lengthened trot. From my expression, you can see that I really had to focus to sit the big movement. All the bounce disappeared this weekend, when he engaged and lifted his back to truly carry me.