Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fall Plans

As I touched on for my show recap for Serenity Valley, I'd like to take Jet to one more show this Fall at Intro.  I have a couple of choices of show venue and as long as the weather is not heinous, we should be able to show in October and be qualified for year end awards with the DLSC.  I've been so pleased with his attitude on the road that I have wondered whether I should push it showing in colder(and spookier!) weather, but this year has been about getting out of my comfort zone a bit, so we will keep on keeping on and give it a shot.

After SV we worked on being more poll high, stretchable, and in self carriage.  Jet had no problem doing this first ride after the show, which tells me the problem was yours truly.  We had been doing some harder work before the show and of course I was reverting to using my hands more and cramming him together, which leads to a pony who is not using the ring of muscles and lifting his withers properly.  Sigh.  This has been a theme through my riding life and I thought I finally had it licked, but obviously not.  The nice thing is that if I have the mantra of "Poll high, stretchable, in self carriage" in mind I am perfectly capable of riding properly.  I just have to especially be conscious of it when riding harder, more challenging movements.

Speaking of more challenging things, my current plan has been to test ride at a level that is totally easy while working on the components of the next level up.  Basically, I ride an easy test as part of our warmup and then move on to working on the ingredients of the next level. So right now we are riding a Training Level test in the beginning of our rides and then working on things from First Level.  This has seemed to work really well for Jet.  He feels like a star because the tests are easy(and he gets a treat afterwards!), I get test riding practice, and we are working in a low key way on the next thing.  I don't think you can overestimate how much our horses know when we are pleased with them and how much this builds their willingness to work harder.  I used to test ride right on the edge of what Jet could do and I think he could always feel my frustration when things weren't really good.  By doing tests that are totally achievable we both feel happier, but the bulk of the work is in the next level, so we are clipping right through the tests.

I'm hoping to get all the way through test riding the First Level tests this Fall.  We have done the First Level tests before but my goal is to do them properly in a correct carriage, not slightly behind the vertical.  I think it is totally possible and the biggest things that could hold us back are weather and my need to cram Jet together when doing harder work.  Wish us luck!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weekend View

Lovely, leisurely holiday weekend with the family.  Got in a good dressage ride Sunday, working on having Jet poll high and slightly stretched to the contact a bit more.  He was awesome and we also made some significant progress in the harder canter work.  It is amazing how much better Jet can canter when his shoulders are lifted and his neck is stretched out, so his hind end can engage.  Who knew?  Say it again with me, "Poll high, stretchable, in self carriage..."

Anyway, also had a great hack after.  This is the view across the road from my farm.  The corn is huge this year.  The trees are starting to rustle, some leaves are coming down, and the days are getting a bit cooler.  My very favorite season, Fall is on its way.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Serenity Valley Dressage Show

Jet and I went to our third dressage schooling show of the year at Serenity Valley Farm and had some good results.  We did Intro B for a 68% score and a first place and Intro C for a 66% score and a third place.  I could not be more pleased with Jet's willingness and ride-ability and his general demeanor going to different places.  He even seems to be having fun going out and about, which just amazes me!  Such a good boy and such a good student of the TRT Method.

I didn't feel like I rode as well at this show as I did at Greenstone two weeks ago.  Greenstone, Jet was like soft butter, stretched out to the bridle, using his back and with his hind legs engaged, and the scores reflected that.  This week, Jet was perfectly willing to go in whatever frame/balance I wanted but I was packaging him a little too much with my hands, which made him slightly behind the vertical with slightly dropped shoulders and slightly trailing hind legs.  Say it with me, "Poll high, stretchable, in self carriage, rinse and repeat!"  He was totally willing to stretch a little more at SV, I just didn't ask because I was thinking more about energy and balance.  I have to remember the energy and balance are immaterial if I don't have the basic biomechanics right.

Now that I'm fairly sure I have a horse that is calm enough to focus on me when in new places, it is time to polish up a few things in the show ring(see above!)and start moving on to harder tests.  I think I would like to do one more show at Intro to qualify for year end awards and then make the move up to Training.  I want to keep it easy for him, always trying to show at a level that is uncomplicated for his level of training and letting things be fun.  All this being subject to weather, soundness, family obligations, and all the other vagaries life can throw out.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Super Saturday Show

Super dressage schooling show this morning.  Second show of the year at a fairly spooky venue and Jet was just so very good.  Looking around and a little wound up at first but settled right down with the TRT ground work.  He relaxed much quicker than at the first show a few weeks ago and totally seemed to get he was there to do his two easy tests in the sandbox and get lots of treats!  He was very responsive in both tests, willing to do whatever I asked however I asked for it, stood around like a trooper, and was basically good as gold.  So fun!