Friday, May 27, 2016

April Video Lessons

Video 1:  04.06.16

My Thoughts:
I rushed things a bit, so it isn't very good.  He was pretty tense and braced.  He did feel straighter, so that is a plus.  My geometry was terrible, because the letters were half set for the small ring and I kept getting confused as to what letter was where (basically I am a ding dong who couldn't focus).  This is also the first lesson that I had my spurs on for.

D's Thoughts: 
There was some confusion and D ended up watching another video twice and not ever watching this video.

4.12.16 Warm Up

Video 2:  04.12.16

My Thoughts:
I started splitting my videos into two parts this time.  I have a separate warm up video and then the actual video.  I also did the whole thing without draw reins.  And this was the video where I tried to shorten my stirrups.  The stirrups leathers I have are on the last hole, so I wrapped them then they felt too short so I dropped them two holes, so I don't know if they actually ended up any shorter...

He was pretty locked up to the left and I had some objections to the spurs, but when I do get the shoulder unlocked the head tilt disappears and he softens up front.  The struggle is getting it unlocked especially at the trot.

After the first attempt at the trot I realized I was seriously struggling, so we went back to the walk to regroup.  I am still letting his hips drift right.  I just don't feel that as well as I do the left shoulder.

The second attempt at the trot is better, but he is still too up and braced.  He does give more frequently.  His brain left the building around 6 minutes, then the big drafty butt blocked the camera, so skip to 9:26.

He gets a little rushy in the trot.  I don't really know how to describe it other than he leans and wants to bulldoze through my aids.  At late 12 and early 13, he started wanting to canter.  At 14:45, I went back to the walk to try to get him to settle and stretch more.  At 18:45, I went back to the trot and decided to trot serpentines until he settled again.

D's Thoughts:
When I don't have the draw reins I need to think smaller and slower.  I should go back to smaller circles and the smaller trot and doing spiral in and spiral outs.  It is back to basics to reinforce that he isn't allowed to saddlebred.  I need to be careful about not getting my hands high, because he needs a ceiling right now.

At 4:56, I get a nice give and good body flow.  At 10:17-10:40 he looks really good.  Even when he wanted to get tight he recovers.  I need to slip him the reins when he does give his lower neck.  When he comes back up, I have to regather, but right now I am not giving enough.

At 12:11 he tries to explode, but I managed to reroute it.  When he ducks low and behind I need to push my hands up and out and also add leg.  Yes, he will probably get frantic but it isn't balling up and I can bring him back to the slow (over and over).

When he gets bossy bring him back down to the walk (don't slam him down but a quick transition).  He also is fairly straight this ride, but I need to make sure I am not sacrificing my connection for straightness.  Overall, this ride was much better than D was anticipating (Yay us!).

04.19.16 Warm Up

Video 3:  04.19.16

My Thoughts:
I should have put the draw reins on, but I didn't have them.  He lost all focus because there was another horse in the ring and he was more reactive.  It wasn't terrible but more so than he has been.  We had been walking for twenty two minutes prior to the start of the main video (it's all in the warm up video).  In hindsight, I should have done something different or used the draw reins, but hindsight is 20/20.

D's Thoughts:
I got busted on several things this time around, but as always D was very on point.  The first thing I got busted for was on rough days, I try to stay with my typical plan.  We do lots of 20m circles, some straight and walk some.  On the days that he is tighter this is not going to work.

Also, he was distracted and I never did anything to take his focus from the other horse and put it on me.  When he wanted to lock in and look at the other horse I needed to be changing directions (I did this at 7:16).  I need to put his mind to work, so he is too busy to focus on anything but me.

If I don't have the draw reins I should lower my hands and use them more as draw reins.  Once he has the reminder I can bring them back up, but sometimes he will need that reminder to get his head out of my face.  I also need to stay relaxed.  I was more rigid so he was feeding off me or I was feeding off him, but either way it was not helping the situation.

The other major thing I got busted for was thinking too much.  D said, "I can literally see your brain running around trying to calculate where you want to be, where you are, and somewhere in that how you should fix it."  She wanted to blindfold me, so I had to ride more off my feel.  Right now my instinct is getting muddled by my busy busy brain.  I need to ride the horse I have and not try to be so textbook about things.  My thought process was "OMG I am going to run into this girl.  Are we straight? Are we moving forward?  Ok wait head is in my face.  Let's do this and now crap neck is in my face.  Maybe we should walk."  I need to to be more, "Breathe, no neck down, breathe, no neck down, and so on."

We did get complimented on two things.  One we had decent walk leg yields and the confidence and flow in the walk is great (we just need to get that in the trot).

Video 4:  04.30.16

My Thoughts:
This one is pretty boring, because he felt tired and we didn't do a lot of trot work.  It had been in the 80s and humid.  He still hadn't shed out completely so I thought the he was getting to him a bit.  He had been getting pretty sweaty just walking and the one day he came in from the pasture and was really hot.  Overall he was pretty good.

D's Thoughts:
I struggled a bit with this one, because I was attempting to replicate what I had done with the dressage judge in the clinic.  Unfortunately, D did not agree with this and I was struggling trying to figure out how to compromise.  I will point out that I don't think either are incorrect in their approach and the end goal will be the same, but the paths diverged a bit.

Anyway, back to D's thoughts and not my rambling.  She disliked that I kept the rein length the same in the walk and the trot.  He wasn't really connected in the trot and and I didn't have a way to direct the energy.  Also, I was using more inside rein than outside and it would have been better to bend to the outside then pick up trot or keep the outside bend while trotting.

She also suggested that one days like this when I am mostly walking I should practice turns on the haunches or forehand and do some halt and rein back work too.  I can also incorporate some walk poles or slightly raised poles to make things more interesting.

I asked about the turn on the haunches because he likes to plant his front and not move it (the hind readily swings in all directions).  D told me to think of it like a very tiny circle of leg yield.  I shouldn't try to keep him in place right now (more like a 5 m circle).  If he starts panicking I can walk him out of it, get the brain back and try again.


  1. Walk poles are great! It makes them have to think more about their feet and is a great way to get them alert and ready to work!

    P.S. I think you two are looking good!

    1. Thanks! I love pole work. And I just realized that makes me sound like a stripper...

  2. i know what you mean about hindsight being 20/20 and wishing you had put the draw reins on after the fact. i felt exactly that way about my running martingale recently too. ugh. all said tho, i know it's frustrating but i kinda love seeing him flat walking so much and so consistently!

    1. I'm attributing the walk to the saddle. D was watching a video the other day and was saying that his walk is really developing and she thought it was going to always be a bit of a struggle.

  3. Full disclosure, I only watched small snippets of the videos. I just wanted to say though that I'm really impressed with how quiet of a rider you look to be. I know from experience how hard riding an amped up horse can be and I love how you just quietly sit there during his antics and don't make things escalate (like when he was prancing instead of halting) :-)

    How do you find video lessons compared to regular lessons? I have an instructor a few hours away that I could do video lessons with but I'm wondering how helpful it might be.

    1. I would be shocked if anyone watched the full video. Typically I make some GIFs for forced viewing but I got lazy. And thank you. He has improved my riding in many ways.

      As far as the video lessons go, they have worked wonders for me but I also supplement them with regular lessons too and if I had local access to a trainer of D's caliber I probably wouldn't be doing them, because nothing can replace the in the moment corrections.

      I rode with D for over 1.5 years twice a week and she was basically my introduction to dressage. She also picked Stinker out and rode him for 2.5 months to get him started. So she knows both of us extremely well. I don't know if the lessons would be as helpful if she didn't know us so well.

      Obviously, I don't get in the moment corrections and that slows things down but it also makes me more independent. I have to figure things out and get general well you should have done X but when you did Y it was good. The remembering everything and applying it is difficult when you don't have someone saying breathe, relax your elbows, make him give and what not. I have learned a ton just from watching my videos and I now can pick up quite a few of my own mistakes. It also helps because I see exactly what we look like. At first there was a huge disconnect between what I was feeling and what I was seeing.

      Bottom line is I obviously think it is worth it for me because I keep doing them. My advice would be to try some and see if you get anything out of them (I would give it several tries because it took me awhile to figure out how to process everything and apply it when I was riding).

      If you have any more questions email me at (at) gmail

    2. Cool, that's really helpful to know, thanks for the feeback :-)