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

monarch3WEEKLY JOURNAL ENTRIES:

4/15/17: practice neck supples, poll flexions, long neck/long arms/ short reins in all 3 gaits.

Date: 4/13/17

Minutes of Training: 2 hour lesson

Horse: Monarch

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.

Date: 4/11/17

Horse: Monarch

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.

Date: 4/10/17

Horse: Monarch

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

Road to Bronze 2017

Today was amazing.  I was able to reproduce all that we learned in our training session with Susan 3/23/17 and problem solve when the training started to get labored.  To review, visit training journal 3/23

3/25/17: GOALS:Soft rider aids; review exercises from Thursday lesson; light horse

comments about today’s training;: we were super today- I was able to remember to only give soft aids, and he got progressively more engaged and lighter. When we went from walk to trot, he did his usual balky trot. I caught myself almost immediately – that I was working too hard to get him forward, so I tactfully used the whip as Susan insisted. Within one circuit of the arena, he was much better. After we had worked the exercise in both directions using the full arena, he was engaged, forward, and connected. (This is the exercise I came up with combining all the concepts and elements we practiced/learned in my lesson): use the shallow circle to supple, turn on 1/4 line, straighten & leg yield to wall; at B or E supple circle in trot 15M, back on 1/4 line, leg yield back to wall to next shallow corner into the short side, and repeat. After one circuit of the arena, change direction through the long diagonal, (change the whip correctly over the hand), lengthen stride without a change in rhythm. Repeat on other side.)photo 2