It’s been a busy month. I’m teaching many art workshops, attended an opening of my newest show, and hung/delivered fresh artwork to three galleries. I still managed to stay active in my training. The highlight of the end of spring has been attending the Beth Baumert Dressage Symposium as a demo rider, June 3-4. This symposium had sponsorship from the Dressage Foundation and the USDF. Everyone learned so much. As a rider and auditor, my understanding was deepened. I will devote a full blog post to the principles behind Beth’s riding/training system, “When Two Spines Align.” I highly recommend this book for personal, as well as group book study.
cone work 20 meter circles medium trot- M to F nicely connected in shoulder fore
collected canter on 12 meter circle- exercise to develop engagement and connection
From my training journal:
Minutes of Training: 70
Goal: Tune up Monarch for lesson with Susan. It has been 3 weeks.
Methods- be specific, give details: 1. Improve longitudinal balance for smooth transitions by riding down transitions with our skipping a gait. Instead of slowing the horse, ride horse forward with short, active steps.
2. Build stamina in canter and improve longitudinal balance in canter- shoulder-in on long side, strike off in the corner, ride collected canter on short side, straighten on long side- shoulder fore, then ride shallow loop in middle of long side of counter canter, balance through corner, circle at A 12 meters collected canter, straight ahead another shallow loop serpentine with counter canter.
Reflection: Monarch did not want to accept right lead in counter canter. We practiced many right lead canter departs around the whole arena. When he was confirmed in the right lead, I went back to the shallow serpentine. When he held the right lead, I praised him without stopping. I found this helped him get the right lead: in the preparation- right flexion and squeeze legs once, right flexion twice- squeeze with legs if he looses impulsion, then sit on inside seat bone, slide left outside leg back, cue canter with right leg squeeze, AND GIVE THE INSIDE RIGHT HAND FORWARD to allow room for the inside leading leg to reach.
Next Steps: Continue with these goals to strengthen and balance. Up the ante by skipping gaits in transitions and riding deeper serpentines. Test canter depart by asking along the straight line.
From my training log: (As usual, entries appear in chronological order, with the most recent appearing first.)
6/16/17: improve canter: impulsions and connection, especially in the collected canter
comments about today’s training: improved connection through suppling exercise: leg yield to S or R from A, then 12 M canter circle; repetition helped. At first he didn’t want to “work that hard.” With repetition, he realized that I would hold him to a higher standard, so reorganization at the letter and repeating the canter circle, improved the quality. We were actually able to do nice connected 10M collected canter circles.
improved the collection and connection by doing 4 loop canter serpentines the length of the arena. After the first exercise, he was much better.
Walked down the lane to cool out as a reward. Nicely forward and connected in the “trot” section of our cool down.
6/14/17: supple- laterals
strengthening- hill work
6/12: show Marissa what we learned at the Beth Baumert Symposium
comments about today’s training: The wind is really strong today. Monarch was very reactive. I long-lined & lunged for 1/2 hour, getting him connected to my aids and to walk calmly past the chico brush. Then calmly trot and canter. After he was calm and safe, my 23 year old daughter, who grew up with Monarch, got on. I gave her a lesson based on the training we are doing. Both Marissa and Monarch were able to produce a throughness for 2nd level engagement and movements.
6/8/17: Practice exercises from Symposium for engagement:
1. Trot down long side first position. Change flexion/1/2 halt-Leg Yield head to wall 3 strides at R. Continue in first position around arena. Repeat leg yield at each RSVP letter.
2. Trot down long side in first position, at A down centerline. Leg yield left to S. At S, canter left 12 meters. Transition to trot at S, continue left in first position. MXV lengthen trot. At A down centerline. Leg yield right to R. At S, canter right 12 meters. Transition to trot after canter circle. SXF lengthen trot. Repeat.
comments about today’s training: Horse was very resistant on right rein today. Horse was behind the leg- rider did too much work to keep him forward. I need to remember to go back to supple work when he is resistant until he is naturally forward. When he feels like he is going to break in canter, don’t push. Reorganize, supple, ask again. (Jane Savoie) Rider- don’t lose position, don’t work harder than the horse- “sit like a princess.” (Deb Hindi)
6/7/17: review rider position and horse honesty/forward commitment from Beth Baumert Symposium
comments about today’s training: When Two Spines Align; It’s all about biomechanics. Part one- How Riders Work; Part 2- How Horses Work; Part 3 putting it all together. Just walk and trot today- too tired for more….tomorrow we can ramp up. The symposium made profound changes in my position that I have been searching for in my body for the past 40 years, or so… since I was injured in my teens and didn’t return to riding until I was in my later 30’s. That hiatus caused me to loose my natural seat and oneness with my horse. I was pleased with the photos from the clinic, and the connection & effectiveness I had today- able to reproduce what I had at the clinic. And all this while the Rotor Rooter was pumping the tanks next to the arena. What an amazing horse. He was resistant near the truck, but he never spooked, and he worked through his resistance after the warm up.
6/3-4/17: Beth Baumert Symposium; “When Two Spines Align”
comments about today’s training: practice ideas from this symposium. Will write a journal and an article when I find the time. Monarch & I learned so much- Beth gave me the tools to make profound improvements in my effectiveness as a rider! I’ve had many great learning opportunities in my dressage career; this could possibly be the best.
6/2/17: symposium prep- flexions from Beth Baumert’s book, When Two Spines Align (see pp 177-180 flexions & p181-186 First Position)- symposium tomorrow
6/1/17: symposium prep
comments about today’s training: Monarch was very tense today. I spent most of the time suppling. Used exercises from my trainer, Dr. Susan Schneider, Uta Graf’s book, and Beth Baumert’s book. For years I mistakenly believed when Monarch was ‘behind the leg” to my aids in the warmup, his response was due to laziness. It became very clear to me today that this is a response to tension. I will need to clear all the chico brush where the feral cats live next to the arena, as he has gotten quite reactive/resistant in these two spots.
5/28/27: test honesty to leg; desire to go forward without spurs
comments about today’s training: Beth Baumert’s book, When Two Spines Align & Uta Graf’s book, “Effortless Dressage” both help getting him forward through suppling and laterals. He lacks engagement in left hind: unable to hold bend in travers left/cannot accept weight on that leg for reach and thrust. Also not consistent in Right Lead canter strike off, (left hind again.) I will address this with Beth Baumert at the Symposium
5/27/17: Symposium practice at site facility: beautiful facility; very excited about next week