Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Video Lesson #14

This video was pretty rough for me (Ignore the first four minutes I was having video editing issues).  I was struggling with my confidence (Long story short, someone cracked a joke about Stinker needing a professional ride and while I knew it was a joke, my feelings were hurt and my confidence took a hit).  I always struggle with having confidence in my riding, which is why I am so dependent on lessons (and careful about who I ride with).  They give me the boost that I need.  Needless to say D gave me the boost I needed with this.

The List:

The list went out the window, because I was firmly on the struggle bus.  But what is on the list is below:

30 Minutes Total

15 Minutes Trot
     4 Three Loop Serpentines with 15 m circles at the midline
     4 Lengthen Trots on 20 m circle (lengthen one half bring back other half)
     1 One Loop Serpentine each direction

     1 Leg Yield Each Direction at the Trot
15 Minutes Canter
     Canter entire arena with 20 m circles at A and C and 15 m circles at E and B
     4 Canter to Trot Transitions on the diagonal with the transition at X

My Thoughts:

As I mentioned above, this ride was pretty rough (I almost didn't post this lesson, but in the interest in full disclosure I am sucking it up and posting.)  I felt like we only had choppy mode or canter mode.  Everything just felt horrible and I wasn't riding well.  So feel free to skip the video (I am really hoping you do).  :)

I was not able to follow the program, but I did try to keep my reins shorter and give him a ceiling with the draw reins.  I think I did on ok job on that.  I also think I did a fairly decent spilt between the canter and trot work.

I have been struggling with the trot.  My thoughts on why I have been struggling are:  A) He is no longer happy in S's dressage saddle (I am quite confident this is an issue now).  B) He has decided that cantering is easier than trotting.  C) It is something that I am doing that makes him think I want to canter.  I did notice that when I was on the incorrect diagonal, he wasn't trying to canter as much.

D's Thoughts:

This might be a little disjointed, because we did more back an forth than usual.  The summery of our conversation was I am a chicken shit.  Not really, but I need to not be afraid to canter when he gets like this.  The more I try to trot the more frustrated he gets.  And I need to remember to just keep riding and to have faith in myself.  I am so worried that I am going to create bad habits that I do nothing and it is actually worse than anything I do.

D encouraged me to let him canter it out.  I don't totally agree with this, because he is the freaking energizer bunny and just keeps going and going.  Every time I try to do this, I end up with a horse that is drenched in sweat and still trying to canter.  I do agree with I need to get him forward and then bring him back and then forward and back, until he gets his head in the game and is willing to play with me.  It all comes back to the mental game with him.

Another thing that D pointed out was the fact that he was completely locked on the right side.  I never noticed it (oops).  In my rides since then I focused on loosening that up and I think it has helped greatly.  I also really need to work on my half halt and remember to breathe.  I have a tendency to tense and stop breathing.  This makes him anxious which feeds into the cycle I am trying to break with the half halt.  If I tighten my core and continue to breathe, he will respond as desired.

Another big point, was I need to get over my fear of making mistakes.  They are going to happen no matter what and I just need to take a leap a faith and go over the cliff.  And right now the only way I am going to learn is if I make some mistakes.  (Damn overachiever side of me cringes at this.) 

Updated List:

Everything listed at the beginning is still on there, but I am also to add in spiral in and out on circles.  I really need to focus on the out part and use this to help supple him.  I can bring him back into the slow trot (almost a walk) for this if necessary.  The goal is to get him heavy in my outside rein.  When that happens I can take him off the circle.  As soon as he starts to get heavy on the inside, he goes back onto the circle.

Despite my initial frustration with this ride, we did have our good moments.  D pulled this picture out of the video and I love him in it.  Yes we do have improvements to make but compared to where we were I love it.  Although as one of my non horsey friends said when she saw the picture, "Dat ass!"  I really need to get my butt in line and not do my weird perching thing.  PS sorry no gifs, because I still mostly want to pretend this video didn't happen.


  1. i'm sorry it was a frustrating ride, made more so by someone else's careless comments. i hate it when stuff like that gets to me but... well when we invest so much time and effort into our horses, comments like that can cut deep. i get it. anyway glad D had so much awesome feedback, tho i know what you mean about not wanting to just 'canter it out' - that never works for my mare either. try not to let it get you down - the progress is there and happening. (also i kinda loved those first few moments when he was happily and calmly just following you around - it's clear he trusts you and is happy to be around you!)

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I've had a couple of good rides since then so I've been feeling much better about things. He really is such a puppy dog and whoever had him first did a number on him when it comes to under saddle stuff. But he has made huge strides there and I'm hoping once I get a saddle that fits correctly he will be able to relax.

  2. Sorry this is so long! 30min of video got me thinking.

    I kind of agree with D's "canter it out". We had an OTTB come though that was a tense overachiever- he'd try to answer the questions before his rider even asked them. He was one that if he decided he was cantering, she'd really work the canter until he decided he wanted to trot (no just circling until he stopped- she actively asked him for things to make it harder). Yes, it took a while the first few times and he'd get pretty sweaty even though he was full body clipped. Cantering was his happy place though. It is a tough, rough road though. Don't let that person's comment get you down, in fact, take it as a compliment. He's a difficult horse and as an AA you're still climbing on him every day and doing the work, so steps forward are because of you! Any horse would benefit from a professional and make forward steps faster because it's ridden by one. That's why they're professionals! You're making forward progress riding him yourself, so he's not a professional ride. If you don't want to canter it out, when he gets tense and wants to canter off (like around 16:50) keep your posting rhythm no matter what he's doing under you. You set the tempo and rhythm, not him!

    Tell me if I'm missing a past conversation here: I think a new saddle would do you wonders (I know you're looking). It looks like this one drops you way back when you're working, which puts you into the backseat and I think you're unintentionally driving him forward and then blocking him up front, which doesn't help either of your tension. That could be why it seems like cantering it out doesn't work- your mind is thinking one thing and your seat is saying another. I think you're fighting your saddle since your ankles end up in front of you instead of in line with your shoulders and hips. Check out 15:06 when he wants to jig forward. I think if you found yourself better supported in the saddle (one that let your ankles support you), you'd feel more comfortable, which would translate back to him, and I think you'd get his hind legs reaching under him a bit more in trot, and then you guys are just going to be on a roll! I feel like he wants to go there and be a good boy. If possible, I'd put a new saddle on the asap list!

    You had some really great moments in the trot work at the end of the video! Yes he curled, but there was desire to stretch and you softened and he relaxed a little.

    Also, where did you get your draw reins? They're the rolled leather with pulleys at the bit right? My trainer had a set like that and neither of us can find another!

    Another question- what camera system do you use to to video yourself? I'd like it for myself!

    1. I didn't realize that anyone watched the whole video, because 30 min is a lot of video.

      The reason I'm hesitant about the cantering it out is I tried it one day (last spring) and I was actively trying to make it harder (but his response to these things are lock and get faster). The end result was I finally gave up (I don't know the length of time because pony time warp and all). He was shaking and sweat was dripping and quite frankly it made me scared he would run himself into the ground before he stopped. Mentally he wasn't processing. Now that we are more established I may be able to get different results but I don't want to put him in that place again. Maybe I am being too soft but that is what my gut tells me. That being said I think we have found a happy medium. He canters I ask for him to give then we come back and trot and if he asks to canter we can. He has to give me nice transitions if it's his decision no giant leap/bolt scoot.

      The comment got to me because I was already doubting myself. This week it wouldn't bother me. But I was struggling and it was a little too close for comfort to my negative thoughts.

      You hit the nail on the head. One of my biggest struggles on all horses is me setting the rhythm. I have no sense of rhythm so I don't always realize when it starts changing on me.

      You are very correct about the saddle issues and it is at the very top of the list. I'm holding out for the end of the month so I can try some more but that being said I am actively looking just in an area that is lacking in tack stores and fitters. Right now County is the only one that is willing to come here and I'm in like not love.

      I think the saddle will help with the curling because right now he isn't lifting his back and when he does he will step up and under and push himself out more.

      They are not rolled leather (I thought they were online) it's pretty square. They do have the pulleys which are amazing. I believe I got them from SS Tack (I can't spell the actual name). Word of warning they tear your hands up if you don't ride in gloves. I haven't noticed them putting significant wear on my gloves. I was looking for the rolled leather but couldn't ever find them either but these are the next best thing.

      It is a Soloshot2. There are limitations on it and they are pretty pricey but worth it in my opinion. If I were you I would wait and spring for the three because it is supposed to fix several of the things I don't like about the two. You can't use the 2 inside and it takes 10-15 min to set up every time.

    2. Go with your gut! You know him better than I do!

      I know USEF makes an app that ticks (like the thing people use for the piano, I don't remember what it's called!), but it's only available on iPhone. It's supposed to help you find a rhythm to keep. I've never used it, I don't have an iPhone.

      Ugh on lacking tack stores! I'm lucky to have one that always seems to have what I need.

      I'll check out SS for the draw reins! And I'll do some research on the Soloshot3, and waiting until spring will help me save some money to buy it! I ride alone 99% of the time, and I think it'd be super helpful at shows too so I don't have to pay a video fee, and my tech-not-savy mother will be able to watch it if I set it up for her, haha.

    3. I've used a metronome in the past and that really helps. I should probably start again, but I get discombobulated when I have to many things going on at once.

      There was a 40% off a preorder for the three not that long ago for the Soloshot3. I slapped a dream bundle together for kicks (system, camera, tripod, indoor adapter, tag, etc) and I think it was around $600. I love it and D loves it so much she is getting one. It took me awhile to get the setup down but I think the three is supposed to eliminate a lot of those issues.