Tuesday, June 15, 2021

We Have a Trot Outside!

Slightly awkward selfie with the Cruiser as he was sweaty and trying to rub.  We did trot in the backyard though.  Twice.  On his third ride outside.  He was super.  Rock solid at the mounting block.  Great hindquarter yields to quiet halts.  Good circles, ovals, and changes of direction at the walk.  Two quiet trots that I almost had to kick him into and we had steering at the trot-YEAH!

So pleased with him.  I will have actual media when I get him in the big field and can use the Pivo.  Should be soon.  Such a good boy!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Updates June 2021

The biggest update is that I am thinking about building a full size outdoor sand dressage court.  My husband is all in, but I’m still waffling about the money because I am a tightwad.  He thinks I will make more progress if I have rideable footing for more of the year and that I should go for it.  All of it.  Showing Cruise next year at local shows and possibly showing rated as he progresses.  He is right but I’m not sure how ambitious I am.  The thought of that perfect court to school in is very attractive though and more affordable than I thought.

Speaking of Cruise, he is awesome.  Really awesome.  Ground driving all over the property like the cart horse he is and not blinking an eye at ANYTHING.  Under saddle he is steering and stopping from my seat inside and getting stronger in his trot steps.  We’ve had two rides outside and he was stellar.  As soon as I getting him trotting quietly outside in my backyard we will move to the bigger pasture.  Then the fun will start with lots of long trots along the fence lines, some circles, and basic Intro work.  Exciting.

Jet is doing great as well.  I have him on an every other day for a half hour riding cycle.  Mostly working gaits, with some poles and some collected steps here and there.  Think Training/First but not actually putting tests together yet and with lots of walk breaks.  He feels sound and seems happy.  This makes me happy.  We will continue to work this way while I focus on my position a bit and then start stringing some tests together.  I’m trying to find the level of exertion where he stays sound without too much veterinary intervention.  Maybe there’ll be some horse shows in his future or maybe he will be my practice horse for position stuff as I bring Cruise along.  

How are things going for you this June?

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Position Reminders

After my deep(ish) dive into Mary Wanless I made a short list of the most important position reminders for me, right at this moment.  They include:

*making a wall with my abs and pushing against it(nice side benefit is that making the wall before pushing against it fixes my tendency to hollow my back)
*putting both boards on in MW speak
*suction cupping my thighs to the saddle and then drawing them slightly away
*having a slight slingshot with my thighs
*pushing out the fascia in my calf and popping the tendons in my ankles

I’ve had a few easy for Jet rides where I got used to activating these PR’s mostly on a 20m circle and yesterday I used the Pivo to see what’s the what.  I have to add that I feel much more secure in general in the saddle.  Jet feels poll high and swingy and our posting trot feels much more effective.  The video shows a poll high horse, with a big swingy posting trot(thank you MW posting trot mechanic), and in general nice lateral and longitudinal balance.  

Things that need to be fine tuned:

*I need to remember to pull my thigh out behind me when I get on and frequently through the ride- it helps my leg position tremendously 
*in frame by frame stills I can see that I am moving my upper body at the walk more than my seat/hips
*in the posting trot I am (finally!) coming to the top of the post correctly but I am pivoting around my thigh slightly on the sit phase and tipping a little too forward
*about half way through the video my lower leg starts to flop around a bit with fatigue, which will just take strength I think
*in general I look nice and organized but I need to stay organized while following with my hips/seat to allow for maximum flowing working gaits

I think I’m going to continue fine tuning these basic seat biomechanics of core, slingshot, and managing my angles while sticking to Training Level type stuff for another few rides.  Then after another Pivo to make sure we are on track I will start adding in some First Level stuff.  Which dovetails nicely with working Jet every other day and gradually increasing his workload to see what his soundness workload limit will be.  

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Reconciling Vastly Different Training Systems

I’ve been thinking for a while about posting on how different but similar enough training programs can compliment each other.  For instance Dressage Naturally and the TRT Method.  Both are based on natural horsemanship with an end point of doing dressage and have a video subscription format.  There’s definitely a different emphasis on certain techniques.  But basically, it’s possible  to take what you prefer from each and make a whole because there is a lot of common ground. Warwick Schiller would be another trainer that everything I read of his and see on video ties in well with Dressage Naturally and the TRT Method.  I personally prefer the ground work of the TRT Method but the under saddle of Dressage Naturally and so far that has seemed to work well without a lot of contradictions or problems.

Now that I am doing a deep dive into rider biomechanics via Mary Wanless though, I’ve had to think a bit to reconcile MW and DN.  Mary is very rider focused with the working assumption that if the rider can get her ducks in a row(metaphorically speaking) the horse will follow and have a better working life.  Karen Rohlf of Dressage Naturally is very relationship focused, with lots of thinking about things from the horse’s point of view, and groundwork leading to relaxed (bit less! saddle less!) riding that gives the rider an easy place to sit.  This is a gross oversimplification, but at their core both are trying to do well by the horse but through different pathways.  The relationship and horse training is always paramount with DN and everything comes back to the rider’s biomechanics with Mary.

So where does that leave me?  The TRT Method and Dressage Naturally have been wonderful for me.  I finally feel like I understand what motivates each horse under my care so much better.  Through DN my understanding of how a horse learns, functions biomechanically, and how the different exercises link is light years ahead.  Because of the emphasis on riding by feel and experimenting though, and less specific rider biomechanics work,  I have gotten frustrated with things like my tipping forward problem.  Enter Mary Wanless and specific exercises to fix certain postural problems that directly effect the posture of the horse.  And it is working nicely(photos and video from my Pivo session today posted soon).

After thinking about it for a few days, my conclusion is that I can use both but my emphasis will always be on the Dressage Naturally way of training the horse.  Very partnership based, lots of TRT groundwork, and trying to think about motivation and the whole horse’s wellbeing.  This however doesn’t mean I can’t use MW concepts to give myself a better basic balanced and effective seat and fix a few of my position flaws.  I think part of the reason I got frustrated with Mary back in the day was that I didn’t realize her system is not a horse training system.  It is designed to make you a more effective rider but doesn’t teach you how to be a horse trainer or how to link all the gymnastics and exercises.  She has never claimed to do so, I just assumed if my riding was more effective then the horse training would come easily.  Now that I understand how horses learn and think a bit more through natural horsemanship and the dressage exercises much more through DN, I think Mary is going to have a lot to offer on being more effective in my biomechanics.  

I tested this today when I was doing working gaits focused mostly on my biomechanics fixes but using the Dressage Naturally framework to plan the ride.  I got some great work and wanted to kick on with practicing my position fixes and doing some harder things but Jet had been so good that I knew he needed to stop to keep the willingness and partnership.  This is big change from how I would have approached things back in the day.

Do you use different training systems?  How do you reconcile differences and contradictions?