Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick pick

Just a quick pic of me lunging Blue. She's getting slightly chubby!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lesson with Vanessa

So the last fortnight hasn't been great at all.

Work has been really demanding (mentally and physically), I've been trying to hold make-up classes to earn some extra cash (only it takes up too much time and everyone has cancelled anyway), I've had virtually no money and hardly any time for my horses.

So things have been a little bit rough. I barely got through my last competition, we didn't get great scores but I wasn't too worried. We didn't have enough preparation.

Anyhow, things are starting to wind down a bit. I've got a months break before my next competition, and I'm starting to have 2 days off in a row.

I had a lesson with Vanessa Way today, it was great even though it took over half the lesson for my hands to de thaw! We worked on Medium work, since it's what is letting my test score down. I guess I just havn't worked out that button on Blue yet. But with a little help from Vanessa's dog, we discovered Blue has quite a nice Medium trot. It was so funny, the dog started chasing Blue down the long side of the arena snapping at her heels making her extend. When it came to the short end he would lag back a little, and on the corner he would start snapping and running along beside her. Blue got a little fed up in the end and gave a huge buck. I swear that's the 2nd time in 3 years she has bucked. I couldn't stop laughing, but we got some nice extensions in the end. I think now I just have to learn the feeling. It was so easy on Stylee, but Blue is a different horse.

What we did was collected Blue right up in the canter, and did lots of transitions from canter to walk and vice versa.

At the end of the lesson we had a 70% trot :) It was amazing!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Update On Stylee

I've been so busy with Blue and shows that I haven't updated on my lovely boy.

I noticed yesterday when he's trotting he can hold a straight line for about 10 strides, and then veers off slightly. Every day he is slowly getting better, he came from not being able to stand up, to being able to walk, trot and canter perfectly fine. Now it's just a matter of re balancing and straightness. But then again, every day it is improving.

So everything is looking good!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Practice, practice, practice

I don't know why but I always wait until the very end of the day to ride. Never in the mornings (unless I have a show). That was toady's scenario anyway.

Blue was pretty good today, I'm still amazed at how well she went on the weekend. Now, it's just harnessing that feeling, teaching myself how to use it, and the aids to keep her (and me!) in that state of harmony.

One thing that helped me greatly-and was what I believe made my test a success, was visualization.

The night before my show, I settled in comfortably on the couch, and visualized me riding my test over and over. I imagined other rider's (Andrea's Helgstrand, Anky etc) riding my test and then I gradually replaced them with me, and I imagined Blue being soft, round and performing each and every move with ease. Visualization is not a easy thing to do. It's hard to imagine riding the perfect test when you haven't actually done it, but I just kept forcing my mind to think about every moment I've had Blue in that bubble of perfection, and to put that in my test. The funny thing was, I hadn't physically practised my test that week. I had only imagined it. And I managed to score my best score in my Dressage career so far.

So my point is, visualization works! As long as you believe you can and you will.

I have made a goal for myself, and that is to practise in my mind daily. Now that the weather has turned to crap and I can't ride as much, this seems to be a great way to perfect my riding.

Now it's just practice, practice, practice!

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Apprenticeship in Dressage

I have just begun reading a book called 'Riding Towards the Light: An Apprenticeship in the Art' by Paul Belasik. It's quite an interesting way to look at Dressage, almost like a blog turned book type thing.
Anyway, I think the whole concept is quite cool.

Here's a snippet from the back:

His apprenticeship, as he calls it, lasted about thirteen years. It involved traversing thousands of miles. It entailed countless hours of rigorous practice. It meant researching through centuries of literature penned by the great riding masters of the past. It took hours and hours of observation and lectures from latter-day masters, such as Henri van Schaik and Nuno Oliveira. It even encompassed the study of Zen Buddhism and martial arts.
Riding Towards the Light provides more than an enthralling narrative. It discusses and offers practical information on important issues such as the use of the seat, hands and legs, balance, and the half-halt. As such it will be of tremendous value to riders, trainers and judges and therefore deserves a place in the library of every serious dressage enthusiast.

I will definatly keep you posted on the interesting parts.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another step up the scale

This week I finally feel like I've unlocked one of the many secrets of Dressage, and developed an even greater bond with my horse. It's such an amazing feeling to have a perfect ride after a long period of frustration and feelings of not being good enough.

We got 65.6% in our first test, our personal best! We led the field by 14%.

The things I've learnt about Blue this week...

Warm up: When warming up, walk her on a loose rein with no contact on her mouth, do the same in trot a couple times around the arena, then gradually take up a contact encouraging her to stretch. I used to get on her and take a contact asking her to stretch right away, but she would tense up and it would be a struggle for half an hour getting her to relax over her back. I've learnt she just needs time to get out the kinks and relax mentally.

Feed: We ran out of Meadow Chaff so we gave her Lucerne Chaff for a week, and what a difference! She has just the right amount of energy, and is more relaxed mentally.

Medium work = softer, more supple horse: We have been practising more Travers and Half Passes. It's starting to help engage her more and she is less likely to 'run' off with me now.

But the best thing wasn't winning my class and getting a great percentage.

It was the feeling of complete and utter connection, perfect balance, and being truly at one with my horse. I can honestly say it is the best feeling in the world.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jumping for joy

I had my first jump in about a year yesterday. It was so much FUN!! And what a change!

I schooled Blue over raised poles for about 3/4 of an hour and concentrated on getting her using her back end, and at the end of our ride I set up a wee jump as a reward. She was so funny! She loved it. She was doing a nice collected canter around the arena and as soon as she saw the jump she practically galloped into it and leapt over it like it was 1.30m!!

Silly twat she is.

I'm getting tempted to start doing a bit of Show Hunter now...

Did I just say that?