Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Lack of Responsiveness or Lack of Coordination

An interesting concept came up watching the Dressage Naturally Results in Harmony DVDs that I’ve never come across before.  When your horse is not doing an exercise precisely the way you want, have you ever considered whether the problem is lack of responsiveness or lack of coordination?  Depending on which it is should dictate your response.  If lack of responsiveness is the issue, abandon the exercise, get the isolated response you need and then come back to the full exercise.  If lack of coordination is the issue, for example with a new to the horse movement, keep doing the exercise and playing with the “recipe” of the aids/biomechanics to find the precision.

This sounds really confusing, so let me give an example.  Leg yields.  You ask your horse for a leg yield from the 1/4 line at the walk.  Your horse “sort of “ leg yields but it is not really correct.  He is not really stepping over and still going forward.  You can bail out, reinforce a sideways yield or reinforce forward with some trot steps or any other manner of fix for what you perceive the underlying problem to be and the come back to the exercise.  Your other option is to play with your weight/biomechanics/ coordination to find the precision within the exercise.  Depending on what is going on with your horse either is a valid training option, but you as the rider need to make a decision and not just fall into twist/pull/kick.

I have found this concept to be SUPER helpful with my slightly lazy quarter pony.  Once Jet is working in relaxation, he likes to give what I call the “60%” effort.  You know, doing it, but not really engaged, not quite forward, not quite right.  He sucks me into try to find precision within the exercise and twisting myself into a pretzel, while blithely going along on the minimal effort curve.  The idea that I can bail on the exercise, get sideways or forward or whatever in isolation and then go back to the exercise has been mind blowing and super effective.  All the sudden I don’t have to settle for sort of ok.  If I’m not happy or think he can do the exercise with more quality, I bail, reinforce (usually with FORWARD), and the come back to the exercise.  This has led to a lot more quality in all the work we do and the exercises stacking on each other so much more efficiently.  

What do you think?  Is this something you do automatically or is this new information for you as well?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ribbon Wreath

Got my Pinterest on and made a wreath with Jet Set’s Dressage ribbons.  Pretty pleased with how it turned out and left a little room for (hopefully!) future ribbons.  I realized looking at this wreath, how far I have come, with a pony I thought might never be happy showing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Results in Harmony Thoughts

I received the Results in Harmony Video Series as a gift a couple of months ago and have had several lightbulb moments from the content.  There is so much possible material to go over, but I thought I would do some bullet points of the things that stood out the most.  Honestly, there is so much content in these 6 DVDs that is different or complimentary to the Dressage Naturally Video Classroom,  that I could spend a long time going over the finer points, but here are some of the highlights.

*The most watched DVD for me is Developing Mobility #2.  It takes you step by step from the most basic natural horsemanship yields to sophisticated lateral work.  For instance, I never truly understood the progression from a turn on the forehand, to a turn on the forehand in motion, to shoulder-in before this video.  Same for leg yields and turn on the haunches,.  Also, goes a bit into the qualities you are seeking in each movement for whatever you are ultimately trying to achieve.  Game changer for me.

*Both Playing with Posture #’s 3&4 are really interesting with some very unusual content.  Different ways of thinking about position, original exercises, and lots of mind/body connection thoughts.  I’ve skimmed these, but there is a lot of content to play with over the winter.

*Developing the Trot Lengthens #5 is pretty comprehensive and really follows on from Developing Mobility.  Our trot lengthens are already better after viewing this video a couple of times.  Very helpful.

*The 9+1 Conversations #6 is a mind blower.  It goes over how any dressage maneuver is a combination of these conversations.  I’m pretty sure this is going to be a watch 20 times DVD.  Layers of information.

*Riding in Connection with the Reins #1 is a great timeline of starting a horse bitless and working up to a connection with the reins.  Would be great for anyone starting a horse to see the DN progression of training.

So there it is.  A not very comprehensive collection of thoughts about this DVD series.  Basically, wait until it is on sale and buy it.  The level of content is amazing and even if you already do the Video Classroom this material is different and very complimentary.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Knowing the Purpose of the Exercise and Having Intention

So, next I was going to dive into things learned from The DN Results in Harmony DVD set, but I had a huge breakthrough with something else that I want to share.  As I have said multiple times before, I am a big fan of the Dressage Naturally Video Classroom, which you can explore  HERE.  A recent discussion video titled Know the Purpose of the Exercise, has led to a very bright lightbulb moment.  

Basically, by understanding the purpose of every exercise, being able to execute it at least roughly, AND knowing what success looks like for the exercise, the upward spiral of gymnastic success becomes much easier.  Just doing the exercise is not enough, the intention, purpose, and qualities matter just as much.  For example, let’s take shoulder-in.  The purposes of SI are increased engagement, improved bend, and lightness of the forehand leading to improved straightness over time.  So let’s say you do SI before your lengthens to improve the quality of the lengthens.  But you sort of put the horse in SI thinking more about bend and not focusing on engaging that hind leg and lightening the shoulders.  You go to lengthen and nothing is really there.  The fault wasn’t using SI, it was not defining success(in this case increasing that inside hind engagement) for SI that would lead to improvement in the lengthens.  Just doing the exercise is the starting point, but the true building blocks come from intention and linking the exercises and work.

I’ve taken this idea and used it to great effect in even the simplest warmup exercises.  That first turn of the hindquarters in motion I’m picky about inside leg to outside rein connection and a feeling of being able to go forward into trot at any time.  Linked with a couple of other exercises that I am equally picky about and after a 5 minute warmup I have the best working gaits I have ever had.  Balanced, engaged, forward.  By focusing on having certain qualities in a given exercise and then linking to something it will really improve, everything becomes SO much easier.

The implications of this go further though.  What about ground work?  What about using harder things like half steps before slightly collected trot?  I feel like this has opened a whole new way of thinking about training.  Understanding the purpose of the exercises has been there for a while for me, but I didn’t get that I need to emphasize certain qualities within the exercise to effectively link the work and get so much more in outcome.  The intention and purpose of the exercise matters so much.  In any exercise the trainer can focus on certain qualities that will help the next thing so much more than just doing a “sort of” version.  Who knew?  Your thoughts?