Thursday, October 20, 2011

Random Rambles

I suddenly had random motivation to update this blog!

A lot has changed:

1. I moved 6 hours away to attend college in Kentucky
2. Tiamo of course came with me
3. He lived at Dorothy Crowell's barn for a month while I got settled in
4. I have been training with Dorothy for basically 2/3ish months. She is a little over an hour away so I've had lessons pretty consistently but not a certain time every single week. I'm already dreading her departure to Florida for the winter. Kind of depressing.
5. After Ti's stay with Dorothy, he moved to a private barn about 6 miles from me.
6. I have a trailer but not a truck (can barely drive my small SVU!) so rely on the other eventer at my barn/my dad for trailering. Luckily, she just started training with Dorothy too this year! But she's a senior so will be leaving me in the not so distant future! :(

Dorothy is awesome! I feel like I have already progressed quite a bit, but I'm a bit overwhelmed (frequently) with the amount I have to think about while riding now. It's mentally exhausting sometimes but worth it!

Some of things I have been working on:

Sensitizer Test
This has been HUGE for us! And it is so simple. I had heard of this and tried it half heartedly here and there, but A) Didn't realize how dead to my leg he could be and B) Never followed through. You have to be consistent. It goes like this...
1. Relax pelvis/hips and gently ask with "nice leg"
2. When he doesn't respond...swift kick(s). a.k.a "punishing leg"
3. Pull back to previous gait. Don't even try to be all perfect and use your body etc. Pull on the reins.
4. Ask with relaxing hips and "nice leg" again.
5. Grumpy trots off like a good boy because he's well trained and understands the sensitizer test.
6. When you do the next downward transition, you do things the right way. I realized that most of the time Tiamo will walk when I just start thinking walk, take a deep breathe, and exhale. For canter to trot, I squeeze with my knee and thigh/push my weigh into my heels/breathe.

Move My Leg(s)! ...and my seat
This goes along with the Sensitizer Test. Right now, I have to exaggerate this a lot, and I definitely don't have the hang of it yet. I was way too stiff and had a death grip with my leg. Dorothy stuck her hand under my calf during my first lesson and said, just standing there, I was using 75% of how much leg she uses on her horses. She described it as the amount of leg she would use at first for canter-halt transitions or extreme collection. Ha...yeah. I am working on not just being "picture perfect" in a still shot but actually moving and thinking and riding in real life.

1. I need to turn my toe out a bit so my thigh and knee can relax, and I can move my leg up and down. If I am asking him to do something (like to correct him leaning in on my inside leg or wanting to bulge out left) I can a give a swift, "scrape" of my heel on his side. Or if I just a little more leg, I can think about brushing his hair up a little. Otherwise, my leg is supposed to be moving in rhythm with him off his side, not kicking him. Basically, my heel is supposed to stretch down far and then come up even. However, a lot of the time, it ends up going down just a bit and then coming up above the toe a little.
2. Walking- I have practiced a lot of "extravagant legs" at the walk. This is where I really think about letting my seat move with his back and physically lift my legs (alternating, with the walk rhythm). The walk gets so much better when I do this correctly! When I get my "extravagant walk," then I get good trot transitions!
3. Canter- Same thing as trot, but I have a whole new of lengthening and shortening the canter! When I want to lengthen, I think about allowing and really letting my hips go. This is the easier thing to do. In order to shorten, I do NOTHING with the reins. I just (just, haha. This can be so hard!) move my legs OFF HIS SIDE up and down quicker. When I do this right, it is so great! Dorothy pointed out that his canter his perfect for learning this (plus he's so well trained) because his rhythm just stays the same, and he will actually just shorten and lengthen his stride without changing that. She said many horses, especially green ones, will speed up and slow down a bit.

Other random thing- turn my chest in the direction I'm going but keep my eyes between his ears. This is really hard going to the left. My left shoulder definitely has something wonky going on with it.

Okay, so that's already a lot, but there is so much more too! Like the fact that I have heard...

"Hand the tall lady the glass" when going to the left (forcing me to use my inside LEG instead of rein to fix things. Plus, it fixes my super ingrained habit of carrying my left hand lower). I also have been simply widening my right hand (but don't have to raise it) to accomplish the same thing the other direction.

"Carry your champagne glasses" and "Your champagne is pouring out!" in order to make me hold the reins correctly.

"Look at the weather vane, now the cross, now the door..." while making me use my eyes to actually do my 20m circles properly.

"Push the saddle with your seat up over his ears" while schooling drops (this was actually my very first lesson with Dorothy ever! Cross country schooling at Flying Cross). I have to learn how to relax and go with his motion. I was getting super propped and frozen which was making him take stabbing stutter steps before going down.

"No praying to the eventing gods"! ...she really called me out on jumping ahead on our cross country schooling. Didn't even realize I was doing it!

"Pick up your knitting!". Dorothy does not like the "Jimmy Wofford" one rein and grab (my name for it) for subtle rein adjustments because she thinks it stops active riding. I have to practice creeping up the reins. The "Jimmy Wofford" is okay for jumping and going from the free walk to medium walk during a dressage test.

Today we worked on the dressage test for Team Challenge this weekend! I learned a ton about how important my eyes are during the test. It's just as important as looking where I'm going while jumping! My "box turns" in Novice Test B were SO MUCH better because of this. And I learned how to make the free walk way better! Start it in the corner so he's already beginning to stretch. Normally, he always pops up and starts gazing around during the free walk. Dorothy said he is just releasing from the stretch. I just really turn my knees in and squeeze with my thighs to let him know to keep stretching, then relax, than "clamp," etc.

And yesterday, Lauren (Dorothy's WS) and I jumped in the freezing rain and basically darkness. We had to squeeze in doing a course before the event! Since we didn't exactly have a lot of time (i.e. I'm not became night time. No arena lights. Couldn't see. Windy. It was almost sleeting instead of raining on top of the big hill, next to the mountain), we warmed up before she got there. It gave me a good idea of my abilities without her there to remind me of everything, and Tiamo was very good. It was fun!

So this was super long and rambly. It's terrible grammar and probably has tons of errors, and I should be doing my homework. But I felt the sudden urge to try to write everyyyything down before I lose motivation again.

The End.

P.S. I also had a semiprivate jumping lesson with Jim Graham and David Adamo, but now I really, really need to do homework so I'm not writing about it in depth. I will just throw random words that describe it... posting the canter, "French whore," "Lose your rigidity!", relaxing my lower back, square turns, uphill, round motor boat.