Road to Bronze 2017 July 11-July 30, 2017

Getting hurt has been a blessing in disguise.  Without the pressure of being ready for a show in two months, I have been able to focus on myself: my position, my seat, my aids; being effective and efficient as a dressage rider.  After a few sessions at home when I was finally able to wear a boot to ride, I had a lesson with my trainer.  She gave me tips on how to focus my rides on myself as a rider, so I was able to improve rapidly as if I were working with a trainer on the longe line.  (See 7/13/17 below.  This is a great strategy; I am so please with the progress I’ve made.)

I ride with paddock boots without the half chaps, so I get immediate feedback when my legs are not still as the stirrup will pinch my calves.  This is caused by gripping with my legs, which makes my legs “shorten” or “creep up” on the saddle.  I’m pleased that this work has lengthened my leg a full stirrup hole.  In the beginning after practicing walk/rising trot transitions, I practiced sitting trot without stirrups.  This allowed my leg to relax and lengthen.  I am now able to keep weight in my stirrups at sitting trot at the new longer length, even mediums across the diagonal.

I’m also “listening” for where in the stirrup my weight falls- square over the ball of the foot or too far forward from my heel being “up.”  Another point of feedback is my seat- am I sitting over my three points of contact or is my weight too much on my pubic bones?  When I practice transitions, I put my intention in growing tall and feeling for a balanced seat.  When I practice sitting trot, I focus on lifting my pubic bones and engaging my core.  This gives me a workout similar to crunches.  I get the same feeling in the saddle as when I do crunches on my exercise mat, so I know I am working those muscles.  As I sit the trot, I think that each stride I want to land on my “back pockets” (de Kunfy) and that I am so loose and following, the horse is moving each joint in my body.  This is a marvelous feeling, becoming one with my horse- very addicting!  We practice collected to medium transitions in the sitting trot.  The collected trot must feel very bouncy and active- not a slow jog-trot.  The medium trot must surge when I put my leg on.

Finally, I am using conscious intention to keep my hands still and together in front of the saddle.  At first I used a neck strap to force my hands from moving.  Again, like the seat work, I improved quickly and don’t need props to get the feedback for improved position.  I looked at some pictures from last month and did notice that my hands are fairly wide.  I hope to have some new photos to post soon.  I am feeling mostly healed in my foot and eager to begin training our second level work again.

FROM MY TRAINING JOURNAL:

7/30: rider- position and effectiveness of aids/horse- engagement

7/29: Fluency- aids/rider; gaits/horse
comments about today’s training: 1st day back in regular training after injury. All the seatwork was very beneficial for effectiveness in riding movements.
Training strategy- transitions in all gaits
Began balky; resistant; with w-t transitions, worked through poor rhythm. He became very fluid and forward- especially in canter work. I tested his w-c transitions on long side to ensure he was listening to my seat in the up transition. To help position & get the right lead, I asked from shoulder in/walk. This helped give him the collection and lift for the canter transition.

7/18-7/19; 7/23-7/24: seatwork

7/20/27: Monarch gave lesson to Tilly today; his goal is to build fitness and communication while longeing
comments about today’s training: we worked on her seat- same ideas as I practice. Then I gave her reins, so she can start to learn how to coordinate aids for steering. Inside leg and outside rein was a big eye opener, so Monarch didn’t fall on his shoulder in the turn.

7-15-17:  Renee and I took Monarch & Sonny out to Mary Pat’s.  I love how cool the covered round pen is (even in the 90 degree heat), and the footing is perfect!  It was “old home week” with many riders out who used to board there.  We all enjoyed seeing each other again.  I practiced my seat goals.  This has become quite easy.  Monarch is very forward to the leg and willing.  My leg has lengthened a full stirrup hole longer.  With the longer stirrup length, it is very easy to monitor when I begin to grip with my leg:)  I am able to quickly diagnose when my leg starts to clamp and when my pelvis rotates on to my pubic bones. When my pelvis rotates, I am quickly able to bring my seat back over my seat bones. I am also getting good feedback, so I can feel the horse’s movement moving my joints.  My elbows are soft and loose and my hips are open.  Getting hurt was a blessing in disguise, as I am able to focus on improving my seat and rider effectiveness.

7-14-17: seat training from yesterday’s lesson

7/13/17: first lesson with Susan since being hurt.  Because my broken toe affects how I ride, we decided to work only on my seat- position and effectiveness of a balanced, deep seat.  I am working with and without stirrups.  I will maintain a deep seat using core muscles to maintain a balanced, vertical position through up and down transitions.  I will use my seat to effect down transitions, and a long leg (and/or light touch with whip or spur) to effect up transitions.  My hands will remain still throughout the transition.  To train my hands to remain still, I will hold a neck strap with one finger of my outside hand, which prevents the outside hand from moving.  To train the inside hand, I will consciously touch knuckles with my thumbs up and wrists straight, but relaxed.  I will give with my elbows to follow the horse’s movement in walk & trot, but keep hands very still through the transitions.  We worked in walk, collected trot, medium trot, and all transitions halt through medium trot.  Very quickly I was able to still my hands, open my hips, and follow with all my joints while maintaining a deep seat.  Monarch was an angel- very cooperative and willing with this work.  I think he enjoyed the bond we created- very good communication.

7/12/17: First ride since being hurt- Rider: position & effectiveness of aids; Horse: position effectiveness of balance

7/11/17: groundwork & longe- suppleness, stamina, and strength training
comments about today’s training: With his shoes off, his stride is shorter- worked on lengthening- especially in walk and trot. Ended with walk-canter transitions. This is hard for him; I think he lost conditioning from being off since I’ve been hurt.

Road to Bronze 2017 June 20-July 10, 2017

Sometimes life gets in the way of our goals.  When that happens, we regroup.  By getting hurt, I was able to focus on auditing 2 amazing trainers: Kasey Nillson from Northern Germany and Debbie Reihl Rodriguez, USDF S judge from Colorado.  A week of auditing gave me the chance to reflect on my training and riding.  I realize that I am on the correct,c classical track with my training, and that the position changes I made from the Beth Baumert clinic are definitely a critical component to rider effectiveness.  I also learned that one cannot push the body when it is healing.  A week after breaking the toe, I was stung multiple times in my right hand by a wasp, resulting in a bad reaction.   One needs to get plenty of rest and keep one’s spirits up despite disappointment.  I will not be healed and ready to show over Labor Day at the recognized show in Grand Junction.  At this point I think I will take the year off from showing and concentrate on improving the quality of all second level movements.  I have begun training half pass and renvers for 3rd level.  Until the counter canter is really confirmed, I don’t want Monarch practicing the flying change.

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7/10/17: suppleness horse & rider- walk/trot
comments about today’s training: Monarch was not sore from the trim and pulling of shoes.  I was able to put weight into stirrup after toe break- will start lessons with Susan on Thursday. Plan to lunge this evening to help him build his stamina.
7/6:  1st day back in saddle- test ability to  balance and bear weight.  Was able to walk and trot.  Today Monarch gets his shoes pulled with barefoot/mustang trim to help promote growth in prolapsed frogs (front feet)  He will get the weekend off as we are leaving town for a wedding.
6/27-6/29:  audited clinic with Kasey Nillson at Susan Schneider’s
6/30-7/1: audited clinic with Debbie Reihl Rodriguez- so hard not to be riding at this time
6/26: broke knuckle on left pinkie toe.  unable to wear a shoe or boot; painful to walk.  No riding for awhile.
6/25:  review 2nd level test one- practice quality of canter section Movements #9-20
Lots of resistance today.  Tomorrow: check canter on longe line, esp Right lead.  Practice canter circles & transitions- walk/canter/walk/canter  On long lines- practice collected canter sequence, especially counter canter
6/24: practice at Mary Duke’s- preparation for Debbie Reihl Rodriguez clinic next week.  test quality of gaits and movements.  Improve quality by focusing on relaxation and engagement, specifically prepare for turns and transitions with flexion and 1/2 halts.  He was amazing today!

6/21: received bodywork yesterday; focus on rider position, based on bodywork

6/20: same as 6/19 journal entry;  lesson with Susan was cancelled

Road to Bronze 2017 Apr 24-30, 2017

More crazy weather.  I woke up to 4″ of snow Saturday morning.  Between the thunder snow earlier in the week and the snowfall this weekend, it was no wonder the horses were spooky, the wind howled, and all my joints were achey.  Photos show the morning and then later in the afternoon.  I’ve been doing a lot of arena work with my footing.  With such a wet snowfall, I was able to harrow and get my footing in good shape.

DAILY GOALS:

4/30/17: test lateral work from last lesson in walk and trot
comments about today’s training: I rode bareback this evening. Monarch only needed a light touch from the spur to move laterally off my leg both on the circle and on the centerline in walk and trot.

Date: 4/27/17
Minutes of Training: 120

Goal: Lesson with Susan

Will you continue this goal or make a new goal for next training?: yes, we need to confirm a soft inside leg to an outside rein connection.  Monarch must yield his ribcage to make room for my inside leg.

comments about today’s training: We spent most of the lesson working on true bend, getting Monarch to move his rib cage with a check on the outside rein and touch with the  inside spur. When this happens he is “through.”   He engages- steps under himself himself, takes the weight and thrusts forward with the hind end. He is truly connected from the inside leg to the outside rein and able to flow softly forward or laterally. We need to continue this work until he willingly lets my inside leg fit inside a softly bent horse, instead of pushing my leg away with his ribcage. Over the course of the spring, we have first released the blocks in his neck, then his poll. Now we are working on his ribcage.  All this basic supple work will produce a very soft, balanced horse.  With “thoroughness,” he will be able to easily perform the movements required at 2nd level with all ingredients of the training scale.  Spending time on the basics will yield dividends later this summer.

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More from last week: a few days after this wild day we had a thunder snow!   Lots of thunder and lightning that upset Monarch.  After one large crack of lightning, which sent Monarch bolting to the other end of the pasture, the ground went from green to white in 60 seconds!  

Road to Bronze 2017 Apr 18-23, 2017

SUSPENSION

Monarch very animated earlier this week.  It took me an hour to catch him, because I did not want to trick him with treats; I wanted him to choose to come to me.  Eventually he did allow me to snap on his lead and we practiced 2-year old stuff- leading, halting, and backing.

Date: 4/23/17

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: – practice timing and position of whip whispers all 3 gaits.
– test effectiveness through horse’s response, (does he improve? how?)

Methods- be specific, give details: Through my lessons with Susan, I have developed 2 strategies for my warm up with Monarch. Problem 1- horse is very spooky at C end of arena, particularly R-M-C, but some days in both directions S-H-C-M-R. Today, I began immediately with neck supples on the long side as soon as he began to shy. I noticed that right away, he gave his neck and began to chew. From there, he allowed me to connect, so rhythm, suppleness, and connection improved right away. Problem 2- In the warmup, Monarch has no rhythm when we go to trot after the loose walk. He is quite behind the leg, and uses a funky evasion of jumping in the front to canter while dragging his feet and slow trotting behind. Some days it takes quite a long time to get him engaged. To develop an energetic, rhythmic trot from the beginning , I used the rhythmic whip whispering on inside hip/croup in the moment of the sit in posting trot. When the horse lost rhythm or impulsion, I posted quietly, ignoring any resistance, and quietly kept the correct beat with rhythmic taps in my post. (I did not post harder, use my spur or whip to get more impulsion.) I also counted out loud 1-2-1-2, giving the aid on the 1 (sit) beat. Like the neck supples, the whip whispers corrected the problem quite quickly. We were able to begin the schooling part of our training much sooner, as he quickly warmed up with this new routine.
Here is the exercise:
F-R marching walk, long neck, suppling poll with flexion;counter flexion. R-M neck supples- opening inside rein, release/test, supple again, until horse relaxes and releases. Through corners M-C-H, 1/4 circle supple: (inside spur in rhythm of walk asking horse to step up and over, outside leg guarding bend, opening inside rein asking horse to unlock neck, light check outside rein only if horse falls or shies). H-E-V, trot with whip whisper on sit (1) beat. V-A-F 1/4 circle supple in trot.

Reflection: test effectiveness through horse’s response: does he improve? yes!
how? horse became more engaged, increased impulsion & lightness

We accomplished our goal quickly with this routine, so we took a nice hack outside the arena.

Next Steps: with this much engagement, I’d like to practice walk-canter-canter transitions. I will do the exercise in Uta Graf, part 1/section 2: 10 strides of each. Goal- make it effortless/drink coffee

4/21/17: practice whip whisper in all 3 gaits: timing and position for rider; response & engagement from horse
comments about today’s training: excellent response from horse; horse is now obedient & not reactive. Both the training and the familiarity with the sheep, (they are lambing next door & increasing their numbers each day), have helped him to resettle. Rider- timing is better on left side in trot after practicing on the right side first.

Date: 4/20/27

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: lesson with Dr. Susan Schneider

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. warm up
a. walk: poll supples on 2nd track, then use small supple circle to engage inside hind
b. trot- develop swinging trot with poll as highest point and chest open so shoulders can step through; when horse goes above the bit- hold rein with set hand on wither just in front of the saddle while sending horse forward with inside leg/never pull back with rein; release immediately when horse gives. (This is like a long half halt, 3-5 seconds until horse regains balance and releases.) Post with swinging hips and loose legs- don’t drive horse with strong post and tight legs. When horse gets too quick, also use set hand with inside leg. Horse will rebalance and find a better rhythm; can also achieve by holding core and posting more slowly.
2. Teach horse to engage core by stepping through. Begin exercise in walk, then go to trot, then canter.
a. in the walk, working on a 20 m circle, supple as leg yield with inside leg/soft spur asking horse to step under and sideways. Keep the contact. Next, teach horse to step through with hind end to the bit. Shorten reins and lengthen arms. Whip will encourage horse to push from behind/engage motor. Whip: inside hand with pinky closed, thumb on top, rein lengthened and open for whip to touch croup. Whispering taps with whip in rhythm with walk. When horse stops, he is stuck; he needs to sort out how to step through to the bit. This is a new feel, and he is not sure how to move into the contact. Don’t drive horse when he is stuck; instead just keep riding quietly in rhythm, and he will figure out how to step “through”; stay on the 20 M circle.
b. trot- begin as in walk, (leg yield on circle to supple and activate inside hind.) Next a whip whispering to his croup in trot rhythm. Post and touch horse when rider sits. When circle is good, go large.
c. canter- when trot, supple and move into canter from 20 M circle. Continue to supple keeping neck soft, poll highest point, rhythm relaxed. Then engage inside hind in rhythm of canter- stride 1- very softly on croup. When circle is good, go large. Keep the rhythm regular and relaxed.

Reflection: This lesson mirrors part 2 of section 1 of Uta Graf, “Effortless Riding.” Very timely to have this lesson today; very helpful to practice my timing and softness of aids today.

After such a reactive beginning to the week, this lesson was a reminder of what a treasure my horse is. He works hard and wants to please. He enjoys the training as much as I do. I believe the emphasis on rhythm in this lesson, (along with suppling), helped to steady and reconnect Monarch to my leadership, after his electric and wild affect earlier this week. (I wore my full seat leather breeches today because I was not sure how much bucking I would have to ride. It turned out that he was solidly on my seat the whole lesson and did not offer even one buck!)

Next Steps: Take Monarch away from the sheep next door, so we can focus on these concepts can confirm the feeling of stepping through to the bit, (horse), and timing and lightness of aids, (rider).

4/18/17: Practice flexions for lesson on Thursday; light aids
comments about today’s training: another wild day. Monarch regressed back to 2 years old. Sheep came in to the ranch behind us, strong spring winds, birds building nest in barn, blackbirds in the chico brush. Monarch was very worked up when I went to tack him up, so I turned him loose in the A end of my arena, with a rope from V to P to contain him. Then I let him blow off steam because he was not going to be caught. It took an hour of sending him out before he let me approach him; I used the join up method, looking for licking as a sign that he would let me approach. I finally began to “free longe” him, asking him for transitions- walk-trot-canter- halt. All this was fine, as long as I didn’t try to approach him. After an hour, he finally let me touch him with a cookie. After talking to him, petting him, and many cookies, I attempted to snap on his lead. By then he was 80% calm. We spent the next 30 minutes practicing leading, as we did 15 years ago when he was a colt.

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spring shenanigans!

 

Road to Bronze 2017

WEEKLY LOG ENTRIES:

4/1/17: practice walk, trot, canter from Thursday lesson.  Rider goal- improve feel & lightness, supple more lightly with fingertips.  Practice walk/canter transitions, remember to supple throughout the transition.  Bring horse back to walk, when he looses balance and/or braces.

Date: 3/30/17

Minutes of Training: 105

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Horse & Rider- use the supple circle to release blocks/bracing
Rider- develop feel to know when horse is about to brace; supple before it becomes a problem; develop feel to release the instant the horse releases; develop feel to test suppleness with light aids before horse braces
Horse- release bracing in neck and ribcage at the soft touch of inside spur, or the beginning of an inside opening rein

Methods- be specific, give details:

1. Warm up in walk; use whole school. When horse braces, take him into supple circle.
2. As horse gets supple, bring him back to 6M supple circle; pick the moment to take him into trot. When horse braces, go on circle to get him to release neck & rib cage, (supple with inside leg and opening inside rein).  When horse releases, go large. Every time horse braces, go back on the circle. (It took several circles before the horse could hold his softness the full length of the school. Rider needs to continually correct and softly test.)
3. Return to supple circle 6 M in walk. Look for the golden moment to canter. Raise knee to sit on inside seat bone, slide outside leg back, (cluck if horse needs clarity), canter-supple-canter. As soon as horse loses balance & braces, go back to walk. Supple and return to canter.

Reflection: When trotting or cantering out of the supple circle, continue to supple throughout the transition to keep the horse light.
Homework: Walk-Canter transitions. Be aware of horse’s balance, lightness, and bracing. As soon as he’s soft, canter. As soon as he braces, walk. Supple quickly & ask for another canter transition; don’t take too long to get horse to release; immediately canter. Many good transitions with just a few steps of canter are much better than a full circle of “bracey” canter.

Next Steps: Practice this homework for next week. Practice seat bone exercise on hard surface, (low stool or bench), to get pelvis & hips loose and brain connected to subtle weight shifts.

Date: 3/29/17

Horse: Monarch

Minutes of Training: 60

Goal: hack out alone to enjoy a beautiful spring day

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

comments about today’s training; (optional): Lots of scary moments:
big, loose dog
braying donkey
heavy equipment that made Monarch start to spin in the middle of road with traffic
a big plane came over the hillside on approach to runway, just as we were crossing that spot. Loud rumble, giant sweeping shadow, and low aircraft almost ready to land
Used suppling inside leg to outside rein and shoulder-in away from scary stimulus to bring him back to me.

Date: 3/27/17

Horse: Monarch

Minutes of Training: 50

Goal: Rider- soft aids; feel for the moment of release; sit on back pockets
Horse- build strength by taking weight on inside hind leg- supple circle & laterals; stay honest & forward

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

comments about today’s training It was windy, dark, and threatening rain. Monarch was spooky, so we spent the warm-up getting connected on the outside rein. When he shied at the NW corner of the arena, I took a strong contact in the outside rein while sending him forward with my inside spur. This is a common problem area in my arena, and this approach quickly solved the problem. Before I learned this approach, I had some days when I could not work him through the spook to use the full arena.

I have groomed Monarch several days/week through the month of March.  Each time I groom, there is a blizzard of white hair.  Ironically my baby kitten, who’s name is Blizzard, loves to play in Monarch’s hair.  He is so naughty; he tries to climb Monarch’s tail or hind leg.  Monarch is so gentle, he merely lifts his leg, when Bliz become’s too annoying.

Road to Bronze 2017

FullSizeRenderIn the last post I updated my log entries, which are short notes describing my goal and how my training went.  In this post, I will update my journal entries, which are detailed records of training goals, strategies, adjustments during training, reflections on the training, and next steps.  Again, the most recent entry appears at the top.

2017 JOURNAL ENTRIES

Date: 3/23/17

Minutes of Training: 2 hours

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Lesson # 2 with Susan Schneider:  step up and under for solid connection; refine rider aids

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. supple circle- step up & under on 6M circle- make sure horse brings inside hind leg up, then under his body, taking full weight. This is almost a lateral move. Rider gives soft spur in rhythm with the walk; leave spur close to horse to quickly give the aid in the next stride instead of bringing foot back to “home;” rider must be quick, light, and sensitive to aid horse’s balance. When the horse gets “stuck” in the neck, he cannot move his feet. Give horse an opening inside hand to lead the head and neck in, hand low and still at the knee. Wait for the horse to figure it out/release; (same as Uta Graf, Ch. 1). When horse releases neck, rider releases aid; (return hand back to “home”).
2. Trot work from 6M walk supple circle to 20M trot circle. Use opening inside rein as needed to unlock neck.
3. Trot full arena: for a dressage test, ride the corners as 1/4 of a supple circle with inside leg to outside rein. Tap spur to encourage inside hind leg to step up and under taking full weight. Come out of corner in shoulder-fore, (or whatever movement is required; horse will be set up.) For schooling, ride the corner more shallowly: use elements of supple circle to yield haunches to wall; use opening rein as needed. Down the long side, if horse gets stuck- circle in trot with suppling aids & opening rein. Back to long side when horse releases. If horse gets strong, rushes, goes on forehand- circle and supple. Feel him come up & under, become light.
4. Build on trot work: after corner, ride on 2nd track and leg yield to the wall. When the work gets hard & horse slows down, use the whip at the leg to keep the rhythm. In leg yield, use the opening rein to help release neck so horse can step under himself.
5. Changing the whip in the classical way.
a. put both reins in outside hand with inside rein on the bottom
b. push whip down if using a double-balanced whip without the top knob
c. flip whip up
d. reach outside hand on top of inside hand and grasp whip
e. pick up inside rein

Reflection: *BE SENSITIVE & LIGHT! Release IMMEDIATELY when the horse releases. A light aid is more effective than a strong aid. When you find yourself giving strong aids, tap the whip to wake up horse. Then return to light aids. Keep riding through all challenges & spooks.
*A spook is a lack of connection on the outside rein. When you return to the spot of the spook, give aids for supple circle (inside leg, 1/2 halt on outside rein, opening rein on inside). Repeat each time you return to spook spot, until the horse gets over it.
*Use the whip hard enough to get the point across,(be tactful), then use soft spur. Baucher describes this at length; this classic can be downloaded for free on Amazon Kindle
*Practice changing whip until it becomes automatic

Next Steps: Practice and refine rider aids; strengthen horse horse to accept full weight on inside hind leg; supple horse to release neck


Date: 3/21/17

Minutes of Training: 60

Horse: Monarch

Goal: create a forward, honest horse

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. test fit of girth; is it too tight restricting movement or breathing? Lunge first with girth snug, then loose. No difference in movement. Canter departs were good; he had some difficulty holding the canter for a full circle. Is this a fitness issue?
2. Mounted work: supple circles walk & trot.
3. Shoulder-In: test connection on the 2nd track- directives from Susan, my trainer, & Ute Graf- (Ch.1). Shoulder in to E or B, then straight ahead with all ingredients of the training scale.
3. Canter on 20M circle and down long side
4. Stretchy chewy trot circle in trot/both directions

Reflection: 1. I have a comfort-shaped girth. A tight girth wasn’t causing the issue, but you always have to test all the variables. Lo and behold- it was an issue of balance. Ute discusses this at length in Ch 1. She discusses how suppleness is closely tied to allowing balance, and it is the horse’s job to find his balance. This will make a good discussion when we finish with the preface.
2. supple circles in the walk, then on to trot. I made the mistake of asking for the supple circle in the trot on the same 6M volte, as the walk. He lost balance, rebelled, & tried to buck. As to the old dressage maxim- “straight, calm, forward,” I took him back to the rail and sent him forward. Then I used Jane Savioe’s advice, “never leave a question with a correction.” After the strong aid to go forward, I brought him back to the walk, sent him forward in the trot from a very light leg aid. Luckily he surged forward immediately, so I could praise him. Then we redid the trot supple circle in 15M, instead of 6, so I could praise him again.
2. He became very balanced and connected. Again Jane Savoie, “you know they are connected when you feel they can do anything you ask in the next stride….”
3. Canter- lovely- light, jumping, willing, balanced. We repeated this on the other side, and it was nice in both directions. He got lots of praise and some peppermint.
4. We both enjoy, a good way to end on a very positive note. Lots of praise & some treats, too

Next Steps: Training with Susan Schneider, second lesson


Date: 3/1/17

Minutes of Training: 45

Horse: Monarch

Goal: audit training to see if Susan Schneider is a good fit for Monarch and I. In the methods section, you can read my notes from what I observed. This horse has had severe foot and hoof problems, was almost put down last year. He was also trained too hard and too quickly on the competitive circuit which fried his brain. With careful and patient work, he is slowly and surely coming back into the beautiful promise of his conformation.

Methods- be specific, give details: Warm up
Supple–
Circles with neck supple.

Leg yield- getting control outside of horse. 1/4 line to 2nd track- don’t let hrs lean on wall. Correctn- outside rein. Touch outside. No inside rein

Test sh-in

Develop engagement. Back on supple circle still At walk- inside bend small circle- trot out of small circle to
Big circle, then go large. Keep outside rein on second track. Spooking can b lack of connectn in outside rein. Correct spook with half halt on outside rein.

Walk–Step up & under sh-in on circle. Use inside spur in rhythm. Then back to trot. Unlock neck by opening inside rein. Invite him to drop neck and let go with rein. Arms longer- reina can stay short. Lightly touch with spur. In rhythm- forward & under. Allow him to push from behind when trans from walk to trot. If there is a question I’m horse should I trot – rider rises. Soft leg- don’t use muscle.

Down transits- if he lean, hold in rein only by leaning back- don’t pull rein.

Canter- circle in trot, work bend, sit on inside seatbone, be supple in transtn- canter off inside seatbone only. Aid with voice. Don’t drive with seat or body. Wrong lead is lack of connectn on outside rein.

Hard for horse to connect on outside right rein. – going to left. Horses are tight on right side. Establish outside rein, sit on inside left seatbone, canter to left.

After canter, more leg yield , sh-in, travers.

Long legs- high spur. Short leg- low spur.

Reflection: I am very excited to begin work with Susan. She has a great depth of knowledge and has much empathy with the horses. Her strength in understanding biomechanics to improve movement, remediate a horse’s prior bad training, or treat an injury/poor conformation is remarkable.

Next Steps: Get on her schedule with Monarch, as I bring him tactfully back into work.

Road to Bronze 2017

2017 overarching goals: earn my second qualifying score at 2nd Level, then move on to training and showing at 3rd level

Monarch got the winter off while my husband and I traveled in Mexico.  We returned in Mid-February.  By the end of February, I began to carefully bring him back into training.  He is coming 17, so I did not want him to overdo and injure himself.  Also, he is temperamental and tricky in the spring.  I wanted to avoid any struggle.

Summary of late winter-early spring training log: (most recent entries appear at the top) Most unmounted sessions were roughly 1-2 hours with a good part of that work at the walk, grooming, liberty, etc.  I did not push him.  This playful, slow work suited him, as he was much easier to bring back into work this year.

3/21: forward and balanced today:)

3/20:  short window to train- refine rider aids & trot out of supple circle- horse improved today, but still not honestly forward

3/17: create energy & forward horse: supple circles & laterals.  Horse very behind the leg today.  Wind was howling, laundry flapping; could not use whole arena to get him forward.  (Susan says that spooking is a lack of outside rein connection, so supple circles must not have been correct.)  Tomorrow will work on better lightness and sensitivity in supple circles at walk only; use whole arena to refresh energy, and use Jane Savoie’s strategies for a forward horse- (never leave a correction with question- ALWAYS RETEST WITH A LIGHT AID.)

3/17: practice rider sensitivity- release of aids: use long side to refresh “go” energy;  Give 3 preparatory  1/2 halts for down transition, on third 1/2 halt-transition down, and immediately release aids without dropping horse.  Horse should remain balanced and forward- neither dribbling into new gait nor halting.  NOTES FROM TRAINING:  horse is not as connected and forward as previous week.  Is he tired or sore from all the new work?  Are my aids effective?  Am I holding too much/do I need to be softer, lighter, more sensitive to the feel the horse is giving me?  NEXT TIME- focus on prompt forward aids, then soften- don’t nag.  ignore his “hoppy” loss of rhythm & behind the leg in trot; go across diagonal to refresh; connect with supple circle & work laterals.  Don’t do supple 6M supple circle in trot- must be at least 10 M.

3/16: first day training at home; Monarch was boarded all winter at a busy barn with lots of horses and activity.  How will he respond to being back home where all is quiet?  Goal: practice supple circle from lesson 3/9; improve connection from inside leg to outside rein.  Monarch is honestly hot of my leg without a whip- even in canter!

3/14&15/17: practice suppling circle from lesson last week.  This work improved all 3 gaits.  Monarch is honestly connected, loose in his body, and much better balanced.  Trot work was powerful and canter work was lovely, fluid, and light.  This is the first time I have been able to work in a relaxed manner in canter without holding a whip.

3/9/17: first day training with Susan Schneider; back to basics to develop honest outside rein connection through suppling circle.  Notes:

Get horse honestly connected from inside leg to outside rein. When they connect, asymmetries disappear & balance is established. Allows horse to work from hind end- motor.
Begin on supple circle- about 6M volte, marching forward. Take good feel on outside rein. In rhythm with walk, touch horse lightly with inside spur (on/off/on/off…). If horse needs help with the bend, use inside rein in same rhythm as spur- (take/release/take/release). As soon as the horse can hold circle on outside rein, stop inside rein aid. Lighten outside rein aid as horse releases into the bend.  Change direction often. Spur- bring heel back & up& immediately return to neutral leg position.

3/8/17: Clinic prep: round pen-3 C’s; arena- ride bareback laterals and bending to develop suppleness; winter grooming

3/7/17: Round pen 3 C’s work; Ride in arena at walk to develop rhythm, balance,, suppleness.  Mounted work- difficult to get him to bend and accept outside rein.  Lovely ground manners; calm mounted & round pen work.  Winter grooming.

3/5/17: 3 C’s; add suppling in-hand; (shoulder-in on circle with focus on outside rein connection)

3/2/17: continue to develop the 3 C’s: cardio, core, connection through exercises at walk, trot, canter in sets of 3 using round pen without longe line.  Instead Monarch has to take his cues from my body language and verbal cues.

3/1/17:play with liberty: fun day for both of us. He is learning and enjoying the work.

2/28: Core and cardio development- lungeing with side reins and transitions; connection through liberty work
comments about today’s training: He is making big improvements since last week when we began this work. Will be riding soon

2/21/17: bring Monarch back to fitness though liberty and groundwork.
comments about today’s training: He continues to get stronger. He is better about understanding & following my hand cues in the liberty work, though changing directions can get disorganized. Side reins improved his engagement and balance. Added more canter circles to the workout. He seems to be regaining his wind.

2/20/27: Continue with liberty groundwork to increase connection and aerobic fitness; add canter circles   comments about today’s training: work well done today; he is getting stronger. Canter departs are unbalanced- bring side reins tomorrow to begin core fitness to workout

2/19/17: Conditioning- work in the big 40 meter round pen
comments about today’s training: continued with liberty; walk, trot, canter….. He was much more focused today. Canter needed more energy and conditioning. Tomorrow, we will do more transitions. I will use side reins to help him use his back.  For the past 2 days, I have begun stretching, yoga, and pilates.  I tailor a workout for my needs based on Beth Glosten’s riders’ exercise video and exercises from my P/T sessions last year with Nancy Hackett Harrison of Denver.

2/18/17: Bring Monarch back into condition after 2 months off.
comments about today’s training: I thought I would long line today, but Monarch was too fresh to work in lines. We left the arena, went to the round pen, and I tried lungeing. Because he couldn’t relax, I took off all his tack and we focused on developing a connection through liberty work.