Monday, June 27, 2011

Tempo Changes

I've been focusing on the areas that Joan reviewed with me - regulating tempo in walk and trot, ramener, halts and half halts, and canter transitions. It amazes me how these simple exercises are polishing his performance. He listens to all aids more closely, even the ones we haven't focused on, after the above.
I had trouble with Rogo lacking forwardness in his trot from the time I left lessons with Joan until the time I came back (leaving lessons with her was an unavoidable circumstance). The teacher I had between Joan insisted that I not slow down his trot because it was too slow already, and he needed to go forward consistently before I slowed it down. I didn't fully trust this approach, because I knew from when Joan started us that Rogo would be much more forward in his trot if I alternated between slow and fast. He got to understand the difference. He would slow when asked and then really engage and speed up (in a good way) when asked (keep in mind he was just being started). When I only asked for forward, without differentiating, he just stalled into a very poor quality, on the forehand slowish trot without energy or impulsion that I spent all my time trying to 'push' forward. I don't know enough about training to know if the other teacher's approach would work better with different horses, but it didn't work for us. We spent a year and a half trying to do something that Joan can make improvements on in one lesson. I wish I'd had enough time with her in the beginning to have really understood and stayed with her approach. Do any of you vary the tempo to get improved forward, i.e. slow down so that when you ask for more the horse will power forward?
Of course slowing down while staying engaged sets the stage for beginning collection, varying the tempo builds hind quarter strength, the horse doesn't get bored as quickly when things switch up frequently and I find we focus together as a partnership when we 'converse' more. A lot of benefits from simply slowing down and speeding up. This will lead to lengthening and shortening stride, which shouldn't include tempo changes, or at least only very small ones.
After a solid training session last night I rode Rogo straight to the beach tonight. The sun was shining, it was warm and there was a stiff breeze, so the ride was heaven. I've been a bit stressed out - I've been in the media - there is a financial scandal involving big name concerts in Halifax and the Mayor of Halifax breaking financial rules. I chose to leave employment with Halifax 5 years ago, after almost 30 years and an good track record, and it was triggered by poor handling of the Rolling Stones concert I was project managing. I gave a fairly lengthy interview about it on CBC last week. Today I was attacked by a politician on air for speaking up :(  . No surprise there I guess. I feel good about what I did 5 years ago and what I said last week, which is more than those involved can say. Oops, I see I'm off topic! My point was that I knew after I heard about the negativity directed at me today that I needed to get to my horse. Rogo worked his magic and I went from feeling stressed and wanting to 'get even' to feeling mellow, happy and seeing the humour in it (believe me, they aren't the smartest bunch, it's quite embarrassing for our Capital City and our Province). If you're interested there are media stories posted on this facebook page and a few references in my Twitter sidebar.
After riding Rogo on the beach I rode Savanah bare back in the riding ring. She is doing just amazing! She is schooling most or all of Level 2. Did I mention how startled I was the other day when I asked for leg yield when riding bare back? We were trotting quite forward and she moved sideways so quickly and easily I almost lost my balance. Bare back has a whole new set of challenges when going sideways! I've been riding her more, and riding bare back, so it's starting to help my seat.
This week we'll keep working on the tempo changes and transitions, and add in stretching circle and  20 and 15 meter circles at the trot and canter.

9 comments:

Karen said...

Forward and back is one of my favorite exercises! :) It keeps my horse (Hampton) light to my aids and lets us practice packaging his frame, and then powering forward. I think it's also a body-building exercise, too. :)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Sounds like the alternating slow / fast is acting like a half halt... activating Rogo's engine.

Awesome that you took Rogo to the beach and got a bareback ride in on Savannah. (What a good girl!) I have had the most success with my attempts a lateral work when I am riding Val bareback...

Horses make everything better :)

TBDancer said...

When the poop hits the propeller, our horses always make us feel better. Our dogs and cats do, also.

As for the criticism, just put it down to a politician covering his behind.

Meanwhile, you are doing my favorite exercises, too, the "forward and back." Hot off the leg, body building (as Karen says) AND timing practice for us.

Carol said...

Karen I like the expression 'packaging his frame and then powering forward'. That't just how it feels. CFS, yes, it seems to activate the engive - God knows we need it when itgets hot :). TBD, yes animals make everything better.
Glad you guys like these exercies too. I won't let myself get away from them again.

Jeni said...

Sorry you are having a stressful time of it. Hope it gets better soon. Until then love your horses they will make the world disappear.

I need to try these tempo changes with Rosie. =)

Jan said...

Carol, sorry that you are having to deal with the past financial issue. I'm glad that you can take a break from the stress with your two wonderful horses! I really liked reading about the benefits of changing the speed of the horse. Sounds like you are doing great with Rogo, and riding Savanah is a dream!

DressagePonyDiva said...

I am going to try the slow/fast with Diesel in the walk to see if this helps to improve his walk, as I seem to be having the same issues as you had in trot with the other instructor. Thanks for the idea

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm a fan of changing it up with horses. It keeps them from getting bored and stuck in a rut. I think the speed up/ slow down is a great exercise that fine tunes your cues.

Sorry to hear about your stress but politicians are definite stress carriers. Glad you had your horses to help you see the humor in life.

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