Saturday, August 10, 2013

Making turns

This morning's lesson we talked about 'rollbacks'. In quotes because semi-unfit draft horse rollbacks just look like big turns to everybody else, LOL.

So Jessica used the jumps from the other day, but setup a couple more attached at the sides between the one in the center and the one stride on the right side at angles so we could go down a line and then come around over one of the middle jumps.

We spent the warmup doing lots of transitions and a few spiral circles to encourage Kieran to use his hind end more in preparation for the turns. I got a really nice canter out of him after we came out of one of the spirals and I just sat and asked for the canter. Just nice. He didn't really approve of all the transitions, though. I kept choosing meandering paths around the ring instead of just going on the fenceline and then asking for random transitions and he was totally like, "wait....what? this is now how warming up works lady!" :)

Anyway, a couple of pictures and a couple of videos.

Kind of a weird point. This was early on we went down the two stride to the arena fence, then turned and came back to this guy. (the fence all the way over on the other side of the lattice is the end of the two stride)

We had a little difficulty with this exercise, actually. We've made a habit, you know, of kind of cutting the corner after we come off a line like that so Kieran tried the first time or two to cut the corner and then I'm like NO NO WE HAVE TO GO BACK UP TO THAT FENCE WE WON'T MAKE IT LIKE THIS. So Jessica had us go over the two stride and keep cantering straight and halt at the arena fence a couple times until we got it down firm that he has to wait for me to tell him to turn, not just assume what we're going to do. So here's a video of one of those:

This was actually accidental, Jessica had the camera running while we were discussing what we'd been doing and what we'd be doing next. I just like how relaxed Kieran looks here.

Just a moment of one of the jumps, Yeah, his form is not quite as good as it was before our break, but I think mine has improved a bit. Mostly I just keep thinking about 'folding' and pushing my hands forward up his neck instead of throwing my whole body forward. I think it's paying off. :)

This was the last exercise of the ride. Basically we were riding a big circle with jumps in between. The last jump we came in a little weird but we kept a pretty good tempo going and there was no  knocking anything down or bowling over anything, LOL. So we'll call it a win.

Kieran got to be cooled out by walking around with one of the other boarders' moms. She had mentioned a while back how cool she thought he was and I'd told her if we were ever there at the same time and I was riding, she could hop on and have a pony ride. She doesn't ride much, herself, but she got up on Kieran like a trooper and took him for a nice walking mosey around the open spot in front of the barn. :)

Afterward, he got a good hosing down and put out his field with a treat. I've gotta say, I'm really impressed with how shiny he is considering he rarely, if ever, actually gets bathed. But man, he was pretty blinding in the sunlight, particularly wet, hah.

We've worked pretty hard this week so tomorrow we'll likely just take a nice walk out in the woods.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Smooth Sailing

First we were off for like a month and a half (seriously, basically all of June and a big chunk of July) through a combination of weather (it rained FOREVER), work (I kept leaving too late to make it worth getting out to the barn and try to ride before it got dark...which is ridiculous when you think that it doesn't get full-dark until like....9pm), and laziness (the couple of days the first two didn't apply I ended up just vegging at home).

Anyway, finally started getting back into routine a couple of weeks ago. We'd both gotten (extra?) out of shape over the time that had passed and we had to start slow. Long walks, short trots, moseying out on the trails, lots of flatwork.

We also had to have a few 'discussions' about who was in charge here when he tried to test boundaries a few times ("but I don't WANT to work, Mom!!!"...well, either that or just excited that we were finally doing something interesting again but either way, he doesn't get to try to kick out and take off when I ask him to canter nicely).

In general, we've just been slightly out of sync, not working together as well as we were a couple months ago. But finally, finally, last night things seemed to come together and we just sort of...flowed together. He was happy and willing to work and forward. I was relaxed and confident enough that even when he tripped on a tussock while cantering, I just gave him his head and got out of his way, he kept going and it was no big deal.

Anyway, last night was the first lesson since we got back where we spent it mostly jumping. The past several have been focusing more on flatwork for fitness and flexibility (going over ground poles, spiral circles, cloverleaf shapes, square turns...).

So Jessica had set up a couple of things. On the left side of the arena was a two stride with a crossrail and a low vertical. In the center of the ring was a low vertical with a placing pole about a stride away. On the right side of the ring were two verticals one stride apart.

So first we trotted into everything and cantered out from each direction, then we started putting things together, over one and around to another, remembering to keep a good rhythm going and half halt at turns, that sort of thing. At the end, we basically did a big "S" shape through all of them (cantering in and out of jumps but trotting around the turns since we still aren't working on lead changes really though he's offered a flying change a couple times).

Some notes:
Jessica laughed at me about the tripping thing I mentioned up above because I always go on about how I'm not as balanced as I should be, etcetc but here was proof I could stay exactly where I need to be on him and not freak out. She pointed out that there was a time if something like that had happened, I would've been "hugging his neck to stay on".

Kieran continues to show us he's thinking about the questions we're asking of him. It's really amazing, really, to see his horsey brain go through the process and figure out how to get through things.

Jessica mentioned my two point last night, particularly through the one stride, was some of the best she's seen out of me so far. I've basically been thinking really hard about pushing my hands forward and "folding" instead of throwing myself up out of the saddle like I'm wont to do.

Sometimes in the past, when we finish a combination, Kieran will try to drop back into a walk because so often we've done one, then stopped to talk about how it went before we went to do it again or move on to something else. Trying to break myself of that habit too and last night he was quite willing to keep cantering after the combos and let me guide him around the ring or over another one before we stopped.

No pictures, alas, as I forgot my camera, but I do wonder if it helped me to relax knowing there wasn't the "all seeing eye" on me, LOL. Though I really do think getting pics/vid of lessons has helped me since I can go through them frame by frame and really watch what we're doing and how we can improve it.