Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kieran might make a jumper yet!

Tonight, we warmed up with serpentines (walking and trotting). And then Christina had me either walk or trot Kieran until we got to A or C, then turn on the centerline, and when he was straight, do a canter transition, then canter down centerline.

Well, that was the idea, anyway. You could tell Kieran was like, "wtf? But there's no WALL!" Still, we got a couple strides of canter out of him, both ways (up and down), and I bet next week when I ask him, he'll pick it up more quickly. Basically, just trying to lesson any dependence on the wall (and hey, it makes it so he's "working" in the middle of the ring too and not just out on the rail).

After that, Christina set up a jump at X, starting out with another low crossrail and a ground pole leading in to it. Basically, we just trotted over it with me having to go into two point when he did. Then she would play with the configuration. Ground poles on both sides or a low vertical. Or low crossrail followed by a ground pole a stride away, followed by the cavaletti. Just doing different things to get him to raise his feet, basically.

At the end, it was just between a foot and 18 inches high and we got him to "jump" over it from each direction instead of trotting over it.

I told Christina that if we'd tried to do this six months ago, he'd have kept knocking poles down, but tonight he was doing really well at not just bulling through it and trying to get over it. Yay!

Oh yeah, she also pointed out it looked like he was listening better tonight when I was pushing his butt over while we were on the wall (see my complaints in the previous lesson post about him drifting in and cutting corners). And she said it looked like I was doing better too myself with keeping my leg still and going into two-point without having to think as hard about doing it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poles and other fun things

Lesson tonight!

After warming up, started out with lots of trotting. I was complaining to Christina about how he drifts in and cuts corners and doesn't seem to listen to my leg when I try pushing him with it though in other contexts he understands leg pressure means move over (like when we did the backing up exercise and I had to move his butt around, or when we've done turns on the forehand, or the bits of sidepassing we've worked at and so on). I can't decide if he just doesn't understand in the "going on the rail" context that inside leg pushing him means "move away from pressure nao plzkthx" or if he's just being lazy.

Really, it's probably the latter combined with the fact that I've been pretty inconsistent about really making him go deep in the corners (especially if I'm concentrating on other things at the time) so he doesn't feel like he "has" to. Anyway, we worked on it for a while but he was still cutting corners and Christina said from the ground it looked like I was doing the right things so she got on to see what it feels like and how he responds.

1. She commented on how much of a workout it can be to keep him moving/get him moving. ;)
2. She rode him around the ring and the started riding him, basically, straight at the wall in the corner, stopping just before he'd "hit" it, then turning him into the wall and going back the other way. Basically, so he'd have to listen to what she was telling him to do and where to go instead of just going on autopilot around the corners.

The conclusion is that for a while, I'll have to be really conscious of not just going around on the rail and when I do, I have to really think about taking him deep into the corners. Otherwise, I can do the sort of thing she did, stopping, turning in to the rail and going back the other way. Also, if I want to do circles, probably better to do them in the middle of the ring rather than on the ends (since a 20 meter circle on the end is basically cutting the corners off).

I got back on, went around a couple more times and when he was not leaning on me as much as before, we called it quits to that particular part of the lesson (partly because I was getting tired of working so hard pushing him around and keeping him moving and partly because we didn't want to repeat the exercise too much where he just got irritated about it).

After that, Christina set out trotting poles and we went trotting over them on one side of the ring, then she set up more on the other side. Then one side was just trot poles and the other was a very very tiny crossrail (like...6 inches). Then after he was trotting over that without hitting it, she raised it to be a vertical (so probably like 9ish inches high? I don't know, it was higher *shrugs*). Then she added in a cavaletto in the center of the ring on the diagonal. (most of the trot poles were being used to make the "jump" and one each was in front of the "jump" and the cavaletto. One pole was left out of the original trot pole group so basically, the ring looked like:

| __           
| |--|            x                  ___
| __         x//

Where the thing on the left was the vertical, the x's in the middle are supposed to be the cavalletto, and the lines are just poles.

Then, finally, she raised the "jump" again so it was another crossrail but this time about a foot high. Once he went over it both directions without knocking it over (only did that once), we called it a night and I cooled him out. He's not really been exposed to jumping, so it was just really good he was paying attention and picking his feet up (instead of bulling through the jump as he has done in the past). He actually seemed to like it and a couple times I could feel him kind of picking himself up...not jumping really, but kind of raising his shoulders as he trotted over.

Christina also pointed out the times he'd hit the jump (not knock it over so much, but not lift himself enough so he'd get over without hitting it) even though I was in two point and had my eyes shoulders and chin were pointed down. She pointed out the last couple of times that he did really well, I had not only my eyes up and looking ahead but my chin up and my shoulders back and that really helped him be able to trot over it nicely.

Oh, and he stood completely still for mounting without my hands ever touching the reins till I was read to go. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I have no idea how to title this

So tonight was a good lesson.

We started out with a little walking and trotting (including some twenty meter circles) to warm up and then Christina had us go back to walking and was like, "at B, I want you to go into a canter," because we've been working on walk-to-canter transitions but still be doing most of our cantering from the corners. So it's something of a big step to do them in the middle of the long side, instead. Once we were cantering reliably, she had me go up into half seat. Then we did it all the other direction. Once we'd done that a few times, she set up the poles on the ground so they described a twenty meter circle in the middle of the ring.

Like so:

| |

Except, you know, prettier than that. :)

Anyway, then she had us canter again on the rail and then had me bring him in and go along the poles. We cantered our first circle! (well, it wasn't overly pretty, but first tries rarely are :) )

Then we got a bit of a break from the cantering and she had us do "dressagey" stuff with her calling out the movements. working walk from A to X, halt at X. Working walk to C, track right, rising trot at M, sitting trot from K-X-H...and so on.

There was a bit more cantering but it was starting to get obvious at this point that Kieran was getting tired (we'd done a LOT of it earlier in the lesson, more than we usually do) and I was getting sloppy (also tired. I haven't been riding regularly). So, for the last few minutes of our lesson, partly to let him cool off and partly to work on something else, Christina set up the poles to make an "L" shape with a corridor between them.


| _____
| |
| |
| |

So we'd ride through it, then back up straight till we get to the corner and I'd have to turn Kieran while he was backing so we could back straight out the other side. There was an obstacle like this at the judged pleasure ride we went to recently and it was the only one we had any real issue with. But that was mostly because it's not something we've done a lot of work on (mostly I've worked on getting him to back straight, not turn while backing!) and I rushed him through it at the ride.

Then, once we got that, Christina made the angle a sharper one. Maybe more like 80 degrees instead of 90.

He got it pretty well. I mean, he caught on to what we were doing very quickly and he just listened to me well (it's amazing how much easier this is when I'm taking my time and really thinking about what we're doing. *facepalm*). After doing it a couple times each direction, we pretty much ended the lesson there. Good pony!