Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Plan

We have one more dressage show in October to qualify for year end awards.  I’ve been focusing this season on harmony and partnership with good results, but I think it is time to start pushing gymnastic development a bit to improve Jet’s gaits.  Don’t get me wrong, Jet has made big improvements this season in balance, going from slightly downhill balance, to horizontal, to being uphill some of the time.  All while being correct in his biomechanics, but now it is time to start working on bending/engaging those hind legs a bit more and having slightly more energy.  The exercises I will add in are:

  *shoulder-in to haunches-out to counter shoulder-in to haunches-in at the walk
  *shoulder-in or haunches-in at the walk to a few steps of straight trot, repeating 
  *half circle to half pass at walk and then trot
  *trot shoulder-in to haunches-out, repeating
  *rein back to canter 10m circle to slight shoulder-in long side to counter-canter loop to 10m circle

Obviously not all of these every single ride, but sprinkled in after our warmup that seems to work for us, and also adding in a few pieces of the First Tests as appropriate.  We’ve touched on all of this stuff repeatedly but never actually used it to strengthen and improve.  We’ll keep doing in-hand work, poles, and pasture walk abouts as before.  About two weeks from the show we will start doing test run throughs and add in the mock judge’s the week of the show.  Hopefully, we can keep the harmony and willingness but get those shoulders lifted a bit with some more hind end engagement.  I think the biggest issue will be me pushing for too much too quickly, so I will try to keep an eye on that.  We shall see!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Pictures of Me Almost Sitting Up at a Horse Show

I know, I know, a tease with the ribbon picture, but I do have photographic evidence that I sat up at a horse show.  Not consistently, but it is a start.

Not a great moment of stride but I like the overall balance.  And look, Jet is almost uphill.

Slightly forward here, but love his balance and hind leg.

A little forward here and slight downhill balance.  Still soft and listening though, and love this shot of teeny tiny Jet next to this behemoth.  We were competing against some BIG horses and I felt like I was driving a Miata and everyone else had a BMW 7 series!  Poor Jet in the warmup ring- he was a bit intimidated!

Anyway, on to the important stuff.  Jet was so good.  Listening, light, and in harmony.  He did everything I asked, when I asked, and tried so hard.  I felt like he couldn’t be any more in partnership with me.  By focusing on the harmony/partnership and doing more in hand work to supplement the actual dressage work, I felt like I got an optimal result.  He was actually happy to be at the show and in the Dressage ring.  Our scores were a 58% and a 59% at First 1 & 2 for two fifth places.  The judge was scoring everyone pretty tough but I thought she was fair.  She liked our harmony but wanted me to “SIT UP!!!”  so my horse’s shoulders can elevate and he can use his hind end better.  No arguments here.  We have our last show of the year in four weeks and I will share the prep plan for myself and Jet  in my next post.

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Little Fix for the Dressage Rider’s Posture III

In my (never ending) quest to sit the F#$@ up, I found these gems about neutral spine on Dressage Rider Training.

The idea of the two bowls being level and aligned works really well as an image for me, possibly even better than the hinge image, and lo and behold I sit at vertical when using this idea.  My seat also is super balanced, following, and really effective.  Have I found a big breakthrough?  Try it out and tell me what YOU think.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Little Fix for the Dressage Rider’s Posture II

One of the big takeaways from last weekend’s show is that I still am not sitting at vertical, which is affecting Jet’s ability to have a more uphill carriage.  Since I have four weeks until the next show, I thought I would dedicate a week just to me and figuring out what mnemonic or visual image would be helpful to my sitting the F$#@ up.

My core integrity and straightness are pretty good as evidenced by Jet’s straightness and accurate figures, it is just that lingering slight forward tilt held over from my hunter days that defies eradication.  I know the answer is not in my shoulders or upper body it is more at my hip angle.  I found the above picture for posting trot and had the thought that if you took the posting out of the equation and just thought of the front of your hip as a more open hinge in the seated gaits, what would happen?

Well let me tell you, good things.  Go stand in front of a mirror sideways in riding position and then imagine a hinge at your hip opening a few more degrees.  Keep your pelvis level and try not to change anything except making your hinges slightly more open.  Feel how it changes your balance, your thigh angle, and your alignment.  Then try it on your horse in some easy loose rein work and then in some connected up riding.  Feel the difference in balance and posture.  Visualizing the hip hinges as more open has been a game changer for me!