Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Horses Came Home for the Summer Today

Yippee - the horses came home today. I can finally look out the window and see them, and ride whenever I want to. Joan and Cheryl will come here to give us lessons. They loaded well, with Dan being last on (being the smallest he gets the smallest stall). He's the hardest to load, but not too bad. Took about 5 minutes to get him on and Rogo and Savanah just walk on. I told Doug to put the gate up as soon as Dan got on so he wouldn't back off again, which requires me somehow crawling up and over the gate with a horse almost on top of me. Not easy, or pretty, at my age.
We had lessons with Cheryl yesterday. They went really well. Cheryl and I were very pleased with Rogo. No more trouble in the corners (finally) and I was able to steer the canter and control him when he would have liked to gallop up the hill. Good stuff. It was a beautiful day and life was good. Too bad it ended with her telling me that I'm not 'as educated a rider' as she had assumed I'd be. Joan's dressage knowledge is beyond anything or anyone I've run across and she trained Savanah and I (the most unlikely of candidates) to a season championship, so my previous educator isn't the problem (although I'm not saying my riding is great, especially on Rogo). Not sure what she's looking for from me as I've been pretty clear I've never started a horse before. I think maybe she wants me to be more proactive in correcting problems, and maybe I misunderstood that. I've always felt independent action wasn't welcome in our lessons. Oh well.
Our lesson involved trot circles, walk / trot transitions, serpentines and cantering. Rogo isn't bending in the corners any more. He bent correctly in the corners a year ago (although without much contact), seemed to be on the right track this winter, and then when we started asking for more bend the whole messed up corner thing started (going sideways deep into the corner, scraping along the wall, etc.). Now he's finally gotten over that but the bending isn't there at all now so that part of our training has gone backward. Looking back I know I was holding the inside rein too long, but I also think we may have been asking with too (unnecessarily) strong an inside rein and leg aid. I have a lot of questions / confusion about all of this. Why pull their head way around, push into the outside rein with the inside leg, hold the outside rein, .... when you can just gently take with the inside, give correspondingly with the outside (laying it against the neck) and keep inside leg on and outside leg on and back? They bend, they're happy, life is good.
I remember one judge who kept writing on my tests with Savanah - 'more position left and right' and giving us a low score. She bends almost at a right angle with the lightest feel, so why would I physically pull her head around? It wasn't needed to get the bend. Anyway, the next day I rode her in this exaggerated position left and right (she bends the same amount either way) and got excellent scores and won the class. Why?
I was watching a clip of an Anky clinic on Youtube and noticed her say that when she wants left she takes on the left rein and when she wants to go right, she takes on the right rein and that she does this to keep it simple and doesn't believe in all the inside leg to outside rein thing. Although I don't like the rollkur questions associated with her name, the bit about turning makes sense to me. Why over complicate things? Why not use the simplest aid possible?I know it's necessary to use inside leg to outside rein for some things and it gives a good solid control, but it seems to me from my reading and talking to people that it's almost getting to be that if you don't do that for everything you're wrong. I'm pretty sure classical training writing isn't all unanimous in that technique. I think I'll check.
Hopefully I'll be able to get Rogo back on track re bending with him home in our ring and lots of practice time.
To reflect a bit on our winter work, over-all I'm very pleased. When we arrived there Dec. 1 Rogo had been off for 3 months, first because of a cut in his leg, then bruised toes, then a nerve problem in my neck prevented riding. He had pretty much reverted to a completely untrained state. He didn't retain his training like an older horse would have. He didn't want to trot (would stop and refuse to move), wouldn't steer if you did get him trotting, had never cantered under saddle and very little on the longe line, had lost any semblance of forwardness, etc. Now he canters under saddle, walks and trots very nicely and does the upward transition quite crisply, etc., etc. I'll do my full goal review June 1 but we had a good winter and made lots of progress.

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