Thursday, April 30, 2020

Alternating between Working Gaits and Collectibility


I love this illustration from Dressage Today explaining the “lift” feeling of suspension within a correct lengthen.  Obviously a purpose bred dressage horse is going to have more suspension to their gaits but correct dressage training improves the gaits of even a very ordinary horse, which is the whole point for those of us not owning a fabulous natural mover.

In this vein, Jet and I have found a plan that is really working for us.  Using poles every ride to either lengthen his back and get him swinging or shorten his stride a little bit and get some suspension, while also alternating riding days between working gait days and collectibility days.  The working gait days, with slightly longer set poles, help the collectibility days be more loose through the back and the collectibility days, with shorter set poles, help the working gait days be more balanced with the hocks more engaged.

By focusing this way, alternating days, and adding in the poles I feel like we are getting some kind of multiplier effect.  The working days start out with a little longer walk poles, one or two collectibility exercises at the walk on a loose rein like lateral positions, a few steps of the energy exercise, trot poles set a little longer, one or two rein backs and then straight to the working gaits. The funny thing is that I’m doing less to warm up and getting the best working gaits, through, balanced, forward, and just so easy.  I think some of this is the posture and engagement carry over from the collectibility days and also the fact that Jet is grateful for this “easy” day and relaxes into the ride.  The collectibility days start with walk poles set a little short and possibly raised, the energy exercise, lateral positions at the walk, a little bit of trot, trot poles set a little short, and then on to things like lateral work at the trot with transitions, canter five steps walk five steps-repeat, and trot almost halt rein back trot-repeat.  Harder work, but in short bursts, with an expectation of energy.  So far, with very little tension, and that wonderful feeling of cadence or “lift”.

Jet seems to be down with this schedule and mentally it keeps me much more organized.  I try to do as few exercises  as possible to warmup but still get to the desired outcome, be it quality working gaits or collectibility with cadence and  relaxation.  I am so pleased with the outcome.

What is your schooling schedule like and how do you organize your training days?  Are poles, in hand work, or trail rides on your schedule?



Friday, April 24, 2020

Equestrian Pole Club on Facebook


This is a fun group I recently found on Facebook.  I enjoy seeing other people’s triumphs and enthusiasm and there are tons of ideas for different placement of poles, raised poles, and gymnastic lines.  Jet doesn’t really like to jump that much, but he doesn’t mind poles, so we have been doing more as part of our warm up every ride.

Things I have discovered:

*that swingy back and blowing through the nose pony comes really early on after a few times through the trot poles

*raised walk poles really make him pay attention and articulate his hocks

*adding poles every ride but also alternating rides between mostly working gaits or mostly collectibility work has led to much better out of the box working gaits and less tense collectibility days

What are your thoughts on poles?  Favorite exercises or placement?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


Somehow this photo of German riding master Otto Lorke ended up in my Facebook feed.  I love the casual energy of the picture.  Soft in the bridle.  Energy contained by the rider’s seat and able to be directed any which way.  The horse’s eyes are so soft.  Everything about the picture says harmony and softness with control of energy.  Even the lady with the handbag adds to the casual charm.  This is the fantastic seat that all riders dream of.  

Do you have a favorite picture that is #goals?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Something to Chase Away the Crud


Every early summer Jet gets some kind of fungus on his head and also a couple of patches on his flanks.  It manifests as some icky skin, flakiness, and eventual patches of hair loss.  This year it started up in late winter and I finally decided to actually do something besides pick at it and watch the bald spots grow.  I remembered that $900 Facebook Pony had posted something way back in the time machine about a miracle cure for fungus and I went and found her post about Zephyr’s Garden TeaTree Tonic Spray.

It sounded like a miracle cure in the post, so I hit up Riding Warehouse and we were in business in less than a week.  I tell you what, this stuff is AMAZING.  I soaked a cotton ball and treated once a day for maybe 7 days and the crud is gone.  Completely.  No more hair loss, icky skin gone, hair regrowing on previous bald patches.  I used maybe 1/10 of the bottle.  


I’m really excited to use this stuff on all his cruddy spots through the summer and hoping that maybe it will also work on his cannon crud in the fall.  It’s the small things, right?

What inexpensive miracle cures are in your grooming arsenal?