Monday, June 17, 2024

Soft Eyes Hard Eyes and an Update


Hard eyes, soft eyes is a Centered Riding concept I’ve known about for a long time but haven’t explored a lot.  THIS VIDEO explains it really well in about 6 minutes. Honestly, I’m shocked by how much it helps my feel, timing, and ability to sit back.  It’s a very small change, but it seems to be a gatekeeper for a lot of other positive things for me.  Could soft eyes be why sometimes things are easy and smooth for me, and other times not so much?  Time will tell.

Speaking of positive things, Cruise is going really well.  He is doing walk, trot, and about half a ring of canter on the buckle but in balance.  I’ve started taking up contact and practicing parts of Training Level test 2.  We’ve also been doing a ton of groundwork all around the property using a mix of Warwick Schiller and the TRT Method.  I’m hoping to film T2 for a Dressage Show Online competition this coming weekend and T3 next month.  That will make us eligible for the year end show in all the Training classes since I qualified for T1 last fall.

My goal is to have him on the buckle in all three gaits in the dressage court and comfortable all around the property before I start hauling out for lessons again.  I don’t think we’re that far off, but again time will tell!

Thursday, May 23, 2024

How Its Going


I decided to make May the month of trying Warwick Schiller’s ideas to see if I could get a more relaxed and present horse.  The emphasis being less on technical stuff and more on can the horse use the whole ring easily in all three gaits and be present/focused on me the majority of the ride.  This is the criteria that WS says he uses before he goes on to any real technical work.

I have to say I am so pleased with how Cruise is going.  He responds really well to getting his focus back when a neighbor is mowing, weed eating, popping in and out of view etc. by using the turn until he flicks an ear exercise and then release and walk on.  The bend to a stop AND no release until he is present also has been really helpful.

Canters still look like this sometimes but he easily bends to a stop.  More importantly he seems to be going more easily from a Sympathetic to a Para Sympathetic state.  He’s just not getting as wound up in general but when he does, he seems to come back down more easily.

A lot of our canters look more like this, which I am loving.  We definitely need to work on longer canters but the upward transitions are much more relaxed.  I think duration with relaxation is just going to take some time.

I feel like the walk work and the trot work is pretty solid.  He is so much better about distractions and returning his focus to me and being present.  The flexion at a standstill, bend to a stop, and yield the hindquarters from a flexion, and halt with back up a few steps have all led to a straighter and more balanced horse.  

So the plan in to continue on with this type of work until we have longer duration canters using the whole ring.  I’d also like to carry a touch more forward in the walk and trot without swinging over to the Sympathetic side of things.  I think it will be a couple of more weeks.  Then we’ll start polishing things up and do the Training Level tests with Dressage Show Online.  I’d like to get him field riding better using the same principles and then it will be time for field trips in the trailer.  Everything will take as long as it takes.  I’m really enjoying every ride.  He is such a cool horse.  

Monday, May 20, 2024

5 Favorites of 2024


First up are these scissors from The Hairy Pony.  Heavyweight, sharp, with beautiful craftsmanship, they remind me of my grandmother’s sewing scissors(she was a professional tailor for 40 years).  They cut through Cruise’s enormous tail easily with one cut and give the perfect level bang.  Bliss.

Next up is Effol SuperStar Shine.  It’s just the best for tails, manes, and to wipe down a clean coat and give it that extra sparkle.  It lasts for multiple days in Cruise’s tail for an easy brush through with no tangles or pulled out hairs.  Just the best thing out there.

Next we have Smartpaks.  Convenient, changeable on a monthly basis, and the same price I was paying from the feed store with less hassle and also recyclable.  My husband had to convince me to run the numbers because I am a tightwad, and I’m glad I did.

Effax Leather Combi is the best day to day tack cleaner I have found.  Pleasant scent, removes all grunge, and leaves a soft shiny surface.  I especially like that it foams out of the bottle and a little goes a long way.

And last but not least, we have SmartItch-Ease by SmartPak.  Cruise has always been a super itchy horse, with lots of skin bumps, flaky places, and huge over reactions to bug bites.  The bugs also love him,  SmartPak was running a half off the first month sale and I tried this stuff and OMG.  Within 3 days of starting it no bumps, minimal itching, and no cloud of bugs.  It’s almost unbelievable but the change has been dramatic.  He is so much more comfortable even with some humidity and the current mid eighties temperatures.  Amazing product.

So what are your 5 favorites for 2024?  I’d love to hear…

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Warwick Schiller has Mary Wanless as a Podcast Guest


Warwick Schiller had Mary Wanless on his podcast recently.  It is a fascinating interview, less about specific training methods and more about all the rabbit holes each of them went down on the way to finding their current methodologies.  Whatever you think of Mary’s techniques she is such an interesting person.  Listen HERE.