Road to Bronze 2017 May 26-June 19, 2017

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.

conework-trot    cone work 20 meter circlesmed-trot  medium trot- M to F nicely connected in shoulder forecanter-a

collected canter on 12 meter circle- exercise to develop engagement and connection

From my training journal:

Date: 6/19/17

Minutes of Training: 70

Horse: Monarch

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.)

DAILY GOALS:

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”
Demo rider
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.

BB symposium
BETH BAUMERT WITH CHERI & MONARCH  JUNE 2017

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

Road to Bronze 2017 May 14-25, 2017

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

JOURNAL ENTRY

Date: 5/25/17

Minutes of Training: 75

Horse: Monarch

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

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

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

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

DAILY GOALS:

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

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

 

Road to Bronze 2017 May 7-13, 2017

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

black birds.jpg

JOURNAL & LOG ENTRIES:

Date: 5/12/17

Minutes of Training: 50

Horse: Monarch

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

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

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

Next Steps: repeat in trot

Date: 5/11/17

Horse: Monarch

Minutes of Training: 90

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

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

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

Date: 5/10/17

Minutes of Training: 50

Horse: Monarch

Goal: refine rider aids

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

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

Next Steps: practice in all 3 gaits

Road to Bronze 2017 May 1-6, 2017

JOURNAL ENTRIES:

Date: 5/4/17

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

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

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

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

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

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

Date: 5/3/17

Minutes of Training: 40

Horse: Monarch

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

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

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

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

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

LOG ENTRIES:

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

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.

go

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.

FullSizeRender

spring shenanigans!

 

Road to Bronze 2017 Apr 18

Current Book Study Report: Uta Graf’s Effortless Dressage Program: (Order your book today- it is a gem.  This book aligns well with the work I do with my trainer, Bronze, Silver, and Gold USDF medalist Dr. Susan Schneider.  It also aligns well with Beth Baumert’s book, “When Two Spines Align.”  I will be attending her tow-day riding clinic with GVDS in June.)

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The book is not written in chapters but divided into sections and subsections. Our book study group has completed the Preface and is working on SECTION I: EFFORTLESS- BUT HOW? Part II

Preface gives an overview of the book and why riding should never be work.

Part 1 of section I “The Independent Horse” gives many examples of the need for balance, straightness, activity(forward), & connection. Uta outlines many exercises and strategies to develop these qualities, plus strategies for teaching your horse to be independent.

BALANCE

  • ride on the 2nd track
  • practice “stretchy-chewy” in trot and canter
  • stop the exercise as soon as the quality is lost; reestablish supple & forward from the circle
  • practice leg yield & shoulder in in stair-step pattern- every 5 meters switch from lateral to straight ahead the full length of the arena

INDEPENDENCE

  • test often to make sure the horse is doing the work/take away the driving aids; drive with very light pulses
  • ride in “stretch” position in all gaits with weight on hind end, long neck & open through throat latch

STRAIGHT

  • continually monitor rider position
  • monitor horse position on curved lines- neither shoulder or hind end should fall off the line
  • ride frequent transitions between and within gaits
  • ride should fore every corner
  • ride shoulder fore and shoulder in on the center line, straighten for a few strides, and change rein.  Hind end must stay on the center line.

ACTIVE

  • walk warm up- focus on activity of horse/no rushing and following by rider/leave the horse alone
  • pulse aid lightly; immediately relax leg when horse responds.  If horse does not respond, increase aid, then test with a light aid.  Light aid should produce a surge forward.
  • expect transitions to be prompt- train through practicing transitions often skipping a gait and within a gait
  • train outside the arena; use hills
  • always incorporate variety

CONNECTION

  • practice überstreichen in trot and canter
  • develop feel- know how it feels when poll is in the highest position; how pushing/carrying power feels.  Ride many transitions and tempo changes- focus on feel.
  • correct inversion, (when head is down/neck is curled) by riding forward to the hand

In Part 2- “Allow the Horse to Work Under You” she discusses the Circle of Effortless Riding. This is worth the price of the book. Page 36- check it out. She also discusses timing for rider effectiveness, how we can learn from para-equestrian riders who can’t squeeze or spur with strong aids, (less is more), and her 9 Steps to Drinking Coffee (while performing a pirouette.) This last part breaks any movement down to 9 steps to make it effortless using training exercises, the actual aids to perform the movement, & strategies to refine the movement after it is learned.