Wednesday, March 30, 2016

February Video Lessons

I am not doing a very good job keeping up with the video lessons.  They are happening, I just keep running out of time to get everything together.

Video 1:  02.06.16

My Thoughts:
We had yet another freak out over my legs.  I wasn't sure if I was handling this correctly.  Basically I was keeping my legs on until he calmed down, but I wasn't allowing him to go forward.  My reasoning for that was that he likes to take any leg cue as rocket launch and I felt that allowing the forward was feeding into this.  But I wasn't sure if that was the right approach.

He felt a bit frantic in the trot again, but I did think we had some nice moments in there.  I really wanted to work on the walk trot transitions, but I didn't think that it was the right day for that.  Instead, I did a quite a few walk halt transitions.  I was really trying to get him to halt off my seat, and we were doing fairly well with that, but sometimes, they were really abrupt and he wasn't staying soft.  I do think we are improving.  This also really helped with being able to slow the walk down.  Sometimes it feels more like a running walk rather than a true walk.
Stinker does not agree that legs should touch him.

D's Thoughts:
I am doing a better job catching him as he is coming above the bit (3:46), but I need to watch how much inside rein I grab.  It makes him round, but I am starting to get a head tilt (2:24 and 4:33).  I also need to be careful not to ride defensive (2:57), but I did correct myself.

The down transitions are good, but I need to be careful about how much "break pedal" I start with (4:33) and I need to have a much stronger outside rein for the upward.  I should be thinking smaller shorter steps for the downward and bigger steps for the upward transitions followed by a strong outside rein.

I also need to remember to use the walk figure eight when he gets locked up or jigs.  This will help him find this balance, keep his focus on me, and help to loosen him up.  It is good that I stop him and swing my legs around until he relaxes, but I also need to take his neck away (6:15).  In these moments, since he is so tense and feels like he is ready to bolt, taking his neck to the side and making him move one direction then the other will help me to distract his brain.  Basically, I have to give him something else to be worried about, besides being worried.

With my circles I need to mix up the size and not be afraid to switch directions when he wants to get spazzy (6:15).  Just mix things up a little bit more, which will help with his focus.  Both of us need to be more engaged.

Video 2:  02.13.16

My Thoughts:
I thought we did better with the legs, but he felt pretty tense in general.  It felt like his hind end was sore, because it felt more like pulling from the front rather than pushing from behind.  Everything felt a little disconnected and choppier than it has been.  We did have some nice moments, but there were less than I had gotten in previous rides.

D's Thoughts:
The walk trot transitions are looking better, especially since they were coming from more a halt.  I was also using my hands better, I was pushing them wide and down.  I managed to keep a good position for most of the ride and rode "confident and tactfully."  We found a decent neutral spot and he responded well, because when I asked him to halt and breathe he did so over and over.

There were a lot of times he was actually pushing from behind in the ride, but he would usually canter a couple of strides.  Rewatch 14:01 there is a huge body change and then he gets a bit upset.  He really shifts his weight back in this instance.
He really steps under himself and then he canters.

When he counter canters, I need to turn him in the direction he is cantering then proceed to do the figure eight exercise in the trot until he settles.

He is looking more muscled behind and he is trying to shift his weight back and push, but he is probably a little muscle sore.  Also, because of the EPM, he may need a bit more recovery time.  Not necessarily days off, but a lighter day.  (The schedule I have him on is five to six days a week where I really try to push him the video days and the lesson with S.  The other three or four days, I try to keep things light.  Example trot him just enough that he will settle and walk then we work for about twenty minutes.)  D thought this was a good schedule for him and to keep with it since he is showing improvement.

Video 3:  02.22.16

My Thoughts:
This might be the world's most boring video ever, because we just walked.  He just felt a bit tired and was willing to walk, so we just walked.  I was actually pretty happy with it.  He was maneuverable for me and did some leg yields.  He did get a bit tense, but he would move over and not have a meltdown.  We did some one loops and he was happy to change bend and straighten.  The serpentines and figure eights were pretty consistent.

My only complaint is he is starting to root.  I try to bump him back up with my legs, but that typically causes the head to shoot up and him to hollow and jig.  I don't know if I should keep doing that.  I try not to give at all when he gets rude, but after the fact I realized that while I was trying to give I never gave him a break to fully stretch out.  He might have just wanted to stretch and I wasn't letting him and he got frustrated.

D's Thoughts:
That was a nice 20 minutes of stretching.  There isn't much to critique.  D was impressed that we were able to walk for 20 minutes with him stretching and if he came up he was willing to go back right away.

The rooting is a hard issue, but I shouldn't feel bad that I didn't let him stretch out because we were just walking.  She suggested that I try pumping upwards with my hands a bit instead of with my leg.  Just a light up and out towards his ears.  This was really good muscle building because he just held his stretch and he is moving his SI area a lot more in the walk and that is great.

Video 4:  02.27.16

My Thoughts:
I rode like crap.  (That was literally the message I sent D with the video.  I was super irritated with myself, because I let myself get frustrated which does nothing for either of us.  I think D was pretty kind to us, probably because she knew I was beating myself up over it.)

D's Thoughts:
D liked the trot we had in the first eight minutes.  He is trying to push and it is the most correct slow trot she has seen from us.  Around ten minutes he had a temper tantrum.  What happened was I was trying to get him to soften to the left and he lost his marbles (we have done the softening routine quite frequently so it wasn't new to him).  Normally, he will give the left shoulder and step over into the right rein.  I think the pop up came from him thinking he couldn't go forward and me being frustrated.
Stinker can't handle life.

D thought that my position "actually looked quite lovely" so I guess that is something.  She really didn't like that he popped up.  The bottom line was he got too anxious and bottled up and the brain was not functioning and he felt trapped when I was telling him to go forward.  I was not worried about it because it did not feel like there was gong to be a pattern.  D agreed (eventually) that she wouldn't worry about it if it didn't happen again.

Overall, she thought I rode their ridiculousness really well and was really happy with me.  At 15:45 we actually had a stretch and I was able to catch his first counter canter, bend him left and trot.  At 16:05 he got a little nutty again and I was able to use the smaller circles well.  We had butt foam (him not me, mine isn't visible) at 19:07, so he is using his hind.

On the long side, you can really see that his haunches are trailing to the inside (right).  I can feel this when I am really focusing, but sometimes get distracted and forget about it.  I have two options to handle this.  I can use shoulder in or I can make his a diagonal line with his body and keep his haunches on the rail.

My Final Thoughts:
This series of videos was interesting, because we had some struggles.  But I do think we are making progress.  Sometimes I get too caught up in things and forget where we started.  I want everything to be steady upward progress and not have any setbacks.  The good of the not so great moments is I now know I am handling his BS better and don't buy into it as much and we can work through things.  Also, our nice moments are getting nicer.


  1. umm the inside rein=head tilt in a nutshell lol my problem too!!! Stinker just needs to learn leg isnt bad!!! He will get there :) you two are making great progress

    1. He has been doing better but it's a work in progress like many things...
      And thank you.

  2. i'd say getting to walk for 20min straight with stretching is definitely progress! his trot looks like it's improving a lot too - consistently covering more ground. slowly but surely he's comin around!! :D

    1. Sometimes I forget how bad it was back in August when I first started these, but I can't even bring myself to go back and watch them. So e have made huge progress even if it doesn't always feel like it.

  3. If you feel you need inside rein for more flexion (not bend, but flexion), you might try raising your inside hand slightly. It's hard to do that an not pull back at the same time, but you'll get the poll to flex that way, without a head tilt. Super helpful.

    Otherwise, the rest of the bend needs to come from your legs and body ... which is stupid hard to do when they are throwing a shit fit about those exact things. *eyeroll* Dear horses. Your brains. Quit throwing them on the floor. ;)

    1. I'm 90% sure the head tilt is due to me not getting him straight. He braces through his left shoulder all the time (in the pasture included). I think when I actually get him straight the head tilt will not happen and right now if I see him tilting his head I have been pushing the left shoulder over and it disappears.

      The body needs to be fixed before I can fix the bracing with his under neck but I notice the neck first and don't always realize his shoulder is still bracing.

      We have made massive improvements on the brain front. I am thankful his temper tantrums are prancing in place or rocketing forward. I'm not worried that I will fall off if I press his buttons. I just hope I can get him half as good as Pig. :)