Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Communication is the number one downfall...

...of any organization.  At least that's what one of my old bosses told me.  I was supposed to have a lesson with J today but she thought it was at 2 and I thought it was at 11 so no lesson. :(  But no worries, I still got to ride in J's ring which is very nice and makes things seem so much easier because it's flat.

I guess now's a good time to tell you all about my boarding situation.  It's almost as good as keeping him at home (I grew up with my horses in the backyard so I'm sort of a control freak!) - he lives about 5 miles away on a private farm.  It's just him and the owner's daughter's retired prelim mare.  It's basically rough board as I'm responsible for providing his hay and grain and have to feed him (although the barn owner doesn't mind throwing him food or changing his blankets if I can't make it out for some reason).  He has his own stall if he needs it (but he usually lives out) and they have a nice grass ring with enough jumps to make a pretty complicated grid.  The ring is on a bit of a hill but I figure that's good practice for us.  There are 3 different fields for turnout - .5 acre to about 2 acres and they keep a path mowed around the entire property for trot sets, etc.  It's a pretty amazing deal.

I spent the majority of my ride focusing on bending in and bending out on a circle and he was quite good.  I kept the rhythm fairly slow so I could really focus on the bend and making sure he was listening to my leg aids.  We also did some leg yielding and shoulder in - he was quite good moving off the left leg and not so responsive to moving off the right leg.  However, I'm wondering if I'm too rigid in my left hand and that leaves him no where to go?  I'm struggling a bit with my canter transitions - I cannot for the life of me figure out what I'm doing wrong.  And how do I know I'm doing something wrong?  Well, Charlie picks up the wrong lead.  Now if we were on a straight line, I could maybe understand.  But we're not.  We're on a circle.  I think there's just too much going on and I'm not strong enough to keep the "noise" to a minimum allowing Charlie to focus on what I'm asking.  So he understandably gets confused.

I've been reading a lot of the summaries of the Area VIII meeting with Mary King and how she stressed working on the same thing over and over until the horse understands what the appropriate response is to the question.  I really like the simplicity of that idea and think that may really help me with my transitions (because the trot-canter transition isn't the only one I struggle with).  When I visualized this, I really thought about what I needed to ask Charlie to do - I wanted him to push off with his hindquarters and come up through his back.  Basically, I needed to stop riding his face and start riding his hind end.  This is going in the goal post.  Longtime bad habit of mine - I worry about what the head and neck is doing when I should be worrying about what's going on behind me.  But I digress.  When I applied Mary King's idea to my walk-trot transitions, I had success.  I also felt like the repetition relaxed Charlie's walk which is something else I've been working on.  Now I just need to get a little stronger in my abs so I can apply it to the trot-canter transitions.

Clinical all day tomorrow so no riding but that means I can no longer avoid "The Goal Post".  That's a huge reason why I started this whole thing!  So tomorrow, my goals for the year and maybe if I'm super motivated, I'll do some 6 week goals for what I want to accomplish by the end of Feb.


  1. Your setup sounds amazing--it's easier to go from hills to flat than the other way around. Plus, think how much good it does his hind end.

    Looking forward to the goal post.

  2. I'm definitely lucky! And the farm owners couldn't be nicer. The hills have definitely come in handy for his balance and for reminding me how important it is for me to stay upright. I have this weird "I want to be a hunter rider" habit of folding at the hip although I don't think a real hunter rider would be caught dead looking the way I do! :)