Thursday, September 22, 2016

Current Goals

I know I said my next post was going to be about the Arthur Kottas clinic, but I have to find my photos. It will be great to do it because I need a review.
In the meantime blogging again has got my riding more focused. I started keeping a paper journal beside Rogo's stall so I can write my observations about the ride as soon as I get off - what worked and didn't work, what improved, insights I have about my riding and immediate goals for the next ride. I think I'll go back to writing month goals and keeping a score card.
A couple of days ago I rode third level test one for the first time. It was very sloppy but we did the whole thing with all of the elements. Just getting through a test from beginning to end is a challenge for me :). I had a lung infection over the summer which left me with NO stamina at all.
Rogo's main area for improvement right now is more hind quarter engagement and taking more weight back. He gets heavy and too long very easily - my fault, I let it go on far too long. To work on this we're doing lots of:
  • rein back, both in-hand and under saddle
  • transitions within and between gaits
  • caveletti and ground poles 
My main areas for improvement are to ride more quietly and to keep my body relaxed. My legs especially nag him, and I don't even feel myself doing it. The improvement in his walk when I consciously relax and leave him alone is quite astounding. The more training he gets, the more sensitive he becomes to every movement I make, whether intended or not, and I can easily put him off balance and ruin the rhythm. I'm sure most riders know this but I haven't ridden above level one before Rogo and that was with a lovely draft cross who had the rhythm of a metronome. Rogo is working hard at my training :). To improve my relaxation and quietness I'm doing the following:

  • riding to music with a strong beat and being mindful of keeping the beat and not aiding except for an occasional quick, light ask (believe me it isn't easy and I catch myself slipping back to old habits all the time).
  • getting Doug (my husband) to watch me and remind me to keep my legs off.
  • I'm lining up a longe lesson with a teacher who's amazing with equitation
Does anyone have any suggestions for the above? I'd love to hear them!

For some reason I can't respond to comments. I'll figure it out asap. In the meantime, thanks for the comments! It's so great to hear from all of you again.

Monthly goals and score card coming soon. Here we are at the end of a recent ride. I don't ride him behind the vertical, but I think I'm slow to release at the halt...

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's Been A Long Time...

I've missed blogging about my training with Rogo and I'm thinking I have time to do it again, so here goes...
My last post was a year ago. Here's the short version of what's happened since then:
  1. A young woman from Germany, Sinah Klumper, was in our area going to university for the year, and she started riding Rogo in the fall. She's a former member of the German national pony team and an FEI rider, so she was a great help to Rogo and I (she gave me lessons too). She rode Rogo in our in-house Scotia Series dressage show last October (provincially santcioned series) and scored high 60's in their second level tests, winning their classes. Neither she nor Rogo had done the tests before, but she excels at test riding and Rogo knew all of the movements. That was exciting to see! Sinah returned to Germany in the spring.
  2. Rogo and I had a good winter, but in the spring I came off and broke my collar bone (a freak accident and we've put it behind us). Rogo kind of tripped and went down. After consulting the vet and Arthur Kottas it was decided I'd just been letting him get too log and on the fore-hand. I'm very motivated not to do that again!
  3. Arthur Kottas was here in early May, about three weeks after my fall. I wasn't sure about riding Rogo and thought we'd do in-hand work, but Arthur lunged him (now THAT was something to see) and declared that Rogo looked the best he'd ever looked and we should continue our training. This clinic will be the main topic of my next post.
  4. Joan was all set to continue our lessons after Arthur left, but she hurt her knee and hasn't been able to teach me since. She's hoping to be able to start again this month. I've had the odd lesson here and there with others and also my husband Doug just started helping me too (more on that as well).
  5. Personally, we got a mini home installed at our horse facility Five Fires Equestrian Centre, so Mom, Doug and I could spend the winter together. The previous two winters we were building and establishing Five Fires and Doug was mostly there by himself while I traveled back and forth from our home in Noel Shore, twenty minutes away. We still have our old farmhouse in Noel Shore, but we live in the mini home at Five Fires now. Now it'a a special treat to be at the house on the shore, and we look forward to time away there for walking on the beach, swimming with the dogs, and kicking back. We actually had a full time staff person over the summer, Rachel O'Connell, and she was just about the best worker it is possible to be. We were able to get away some and have a life. She's gone back to school now and working part time, but in general life is good :)
Sinah Klumper and Rogo, Second Level, October 31, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Walk Improvement - Lesson With Arthur Kottas

Lesson With Don Halladay, Five Star Parelli Professional

Bella Is A Star

Today I put the saddle on our two year old Bella for the first time, tightened up the girth and led her out of the stall (no intention of backing her - just playing around). She was completely nonchalant even though she's never had anything on her except a blanket when she was a weanling. Then didn't the stirrup leather catch on the latch coming out of the stall! (stirrups were run up but it caught anyway). This stopped her in her tracks and pulled the saddle off of her back and down around her side, so it was hanging on her sideways. She just stood there and let me unfasten it, put it back on, and then lead her calmly around the ring. I'm LOVING this girl! I really haven't spent any time with her but I think it's going to be fun.
I should also mention I had her tied up to a ring on the wall while saddling her, and I'm pretty sure I've never even tied her before. She acted like she'd been doing this for years - no reaction at all. Am I getting lulled into a false sense of security and in for a big blow up?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Arthur Kottas Clinic Four, Day Four

I rode Rogo twice on day four too, instead of doing in-hand in the afternoon. The main focus of the day four lessons was canter half pass. The morning lesson was only 20 minutes because Rogo responded so well and we didn't want to over tire him.
We did half pass off the rail to the centre line and Rogo did the right lead quite well. This was the first time we did it off the rail (and second time doing canter half pass). Tuesday we did it from the 3/4 line to the centre line.
The left lead wasn't as good when starting from the rail. He moved over well, but didn't keep his bend to the left - his body became too straight. To fix this we started the half pass from a small circle. He still didn't hold the bend as well as he did to the right. Arthur suggests we circle again mid half pass, before he looses his bend, then continue in half pass.
His left is his stiff side so loosing the bend doesn't surprise me. He does better at this point starting from the 1/4 or 3/4 line when on the left lead, than starting from the rail. Arthur wants us to do shoulder in and haunches in at canter to help fix this, especially on the left lead, but on the right too.
I am supposed to collect his canter once he hits the centre line and straightens, but I wasn't very successful at that. It's part of our homework. I think I'm giving my outside leg aid too strongly in moving him over, and he gets quite forward.
Once we have this perfected and I can collect him on the centre line after the half pass, I should ask for a flying change and go onto a ten metre circle on the opposite lead, then continue down the centre line. This exercise is designed to introduce and school flying changes. If the horse and rider remain balanced and calm it can be repeated in the opposite direction, or do a large circle at the end before repeating,

Arthur always gives home work for his next visit. In addition to the above exercise mine is to:

  • Practice shoulder in to haunches in and back at canter. I should just ask for a slight haunches in (I tend to ask for too much).
  • Practice half walk pirouettes.
  • Improve the forward energy at the walk - we're habitually too slow at the walk. 
It was a great four days. I learned a lot and Arthur told us we'd progressed in our training and fitness, so that's motivating. He returns in November so we'll be working hard to get ready.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Arthur Kottas Clinic #4, Day Three

It was another great day at the clinic. I'm completely energized by the teaching - watching other lessons and having my own.
Our under saddle lesson in the morning addressed:
- Walk and trot shoulder in
- Walk shoulder in to haunches in and repeat, continuing around the short side
- Trot shoulder in to haunches in
- Walk and trot half pass from the rail to the centre line and one walk half pass from the rail across the whole arena
- Rein back, trot, halt, repeat
- Walk and trot down the long side doing a ten metre circle, eight metre circle and six or seven metre circle
The main purpose of the exercises was to get Rogo carrying more wait behind. We also practised collecting from my seat and outside rein half halts to prepare for transitions. This is also to take weight back.
For our in hand lesson Arthur taught me to do shoulder in on the long side, half circle, leg yield to the rail. We also did halt and Arthur showed me how to touch Rogo on the bottom outside of his leg to square him up. Then we'd do rein back.
The lead line was on the centre ring of the cavesson. To half halt give a quick, light tug - upwards if he's too low, downwards if he's too high.
Tomorrow is the final day of the clinic. It has me on a total high.