Thursday, May 24, 2012

Slowing Down the Mare

Yesterday's lesson focused on slowing down the mare over the jumps after her superhero impression in our last show. First in the flat we focused on adjusting my two point to find the position that worked best for Satin and I. Once we got that straight, we took that position to the jumping. Renee had us practice one line working on making her adjustable and keeping her slow. Our goal was to trot into the line and do it in a 7. She ended up going so nice and slow and collected that we did it in an 8. Renee was happy with that though because her pace and distances were good so we did it again in an 8. Then we began working on my hands and finding the right position for them, as well as, steadying myself because I was anticipating Satin speeding up or jumping big as she tends to do at trot jumps. Well, she eventually woke up from her nice slow pace and began speeding up a few strides from the jump than getting strong down the line. Renee then had me practice trotting the first jump than halting in the middle of the line before the second jump. She wanted me to do this by adjusting my position and having her halt into the bridle, as opposed to to sitting deep and leaning back to get the halt. Well, it took quite a few times before we got a halt. Satin was a bit confused since we spent so much time teaching her not to stop and now we were asking her to. The point of this was Renee wanted me to learn the proper position to be in to slow her down when she got strong, so we took this a step further by halting instead. When we turned around to do the line towards home she got strong again. Renee was having me do a very slow jog to the line to keep her calm, but she would still try to speed up right before the jump. When I did keep her slow all the way to the jump she was calmer in the line and halted easily when asked. After a few times going towards home with no halt and not a lot of slow down, Renee hopped on to give it a try. She did some hopping up and down for her and got strong in front of the jump a few times, but of course after a few minutes Renee got her settled down. She had her trotting in, halting, and trotting out very easily. She was even able to get the halt in just a few strides in both directions, while I had only been successful in the one. When I got back on she had me trot into the line, halt, and trot out in both directions. She did so nicely and easily. Then she had me trot in and do the whole line. In the direction going away from the gate she stayed nice and slow and steady. She even did the line in a 9 it was so collected. In the other direction, however, she immediately got strong again. We ended up having to do the line in that direction a few times, and Renee decided we should work on trotting the first jump then getting the halt and would end on one of those. After a couple tries, we finally got one where she did not rush to the first jump so I was able to get a nice halt.

Our First Reserve!

Well our last show had it's ups and downs. It was an extremely unorganized show. They kept changing the order of the divisions with out making any announcements and it was just about impossible to find someone working at the rings to ask about the order. If I had not been sitting at my ring and keeping an eye on what was going on I probably would have missed my division. So we ended up waiting around for almost 2 hours and then having to rush to get ready and warm up since they went from having two more divisions until ours to doing ours immediately. Satin does not enjoy the whole waiting around forever thing. Luckily we were able to distract her with grass up until the time we had to tack up, but by then she had had about enough of this show and decided the fastest way to be done was to go really fast. We had about 15-20 minutes to warm up both on the flat and over fences so that did not give me much time to try and calm her down. She entered the ring the way she used to enter the barrel ring...hopping up and down. Her first course was okay. The pace was a bit quicker than I would have liked, but she was consistent all the way around and got all of her leads and distances. She ended up winning this class. The other two courses were a complete mess. She was extremely worked up and was very quick in one line than I would get her back for the next and then she would go even faster. In the last course I had to pull her up before the first line. She decided to gallop instead of canter down the rail on our way to the first line so I had to get her attention back. There were only three in the jumping so of course she got third in the last two courses after the superman performance. She was still keyed up and muscley in the flat, but I had a few minutes to try and get her head back. Luckily I was able to get a calmer trot and establish the walk before the class began. Her trot started strong and with her head up, after a few minutes of half halting I was able to get her nicer trot that we had been working on at home. It took a bit longer to the right to get this and I was afraid she would break to the canter, but luckily I was able to hold her. The canter was okay. She did not give me much in the way of a head set, but the pace was pretty nice, though I did have to work for it. Our transitions down to the walk were delayed, since she was strong it took me more time than usual to get her settled. The flat had four and she ended up pinning 2nd so that was good. Despite her hyperactivity we ended up reserve for the division, so this was our first reserve as hunters :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Last Few Lessons

The two lessons following the last horse show were spent focusing on improving our flat work. We spent a lot of time on the trot. In the lesson following the show I think we did an hour of just trot work. In that lesson she did very well to the left as far as giving me a good pace and getting on the bit and staying there without much maintenance. The right was another story. The right is the bad direction for a both of us. I tend to let my right shoulder get too ahead of me, so we did some exercises to fix that such as riding with my hand on the back of the saddle. She was also refusing to bend and drop her head in that direction. Renee was having us do the exercise where I bring her head in as far as I can and then let it go, as we had done at the canter a few weeks ago, but to the right she was not having. Finally my body couldn't take it anymore and I had Renee got on to work her magic. She got the same resistance, but after about 20 minutes of trying some different tactics she started to get some really nice stuff. She had me get back on and told me lateral half halts worked much better than our previous tactic. By the time I got on Renee had her going so beautifully I didn't have to do anything. She just stayed going along perfectly. In between lessons, I did not have much luck getting the head set as nicely we Renee had been able to. When we had our next lesson the following week though I found out why. I did my warm up and asked for the head set the way I had been doing at home. Renee pointed out that my issue was my hands and elbows. She said I needed more bend in my elbow to make a smoother line from elbow to hands to reins. I also needed to lift my hands to achieve this. Once I did this she went right on the bit and into a beautiful head set and trot. What a huge difference something that seems so small makes! We also did the same work at the canter, but I had locked my elbows a little to much at this gait. Renee gave me an exercise I call the Superman to fix this. Every few strides she had me put my arms straight out in front of me to loosen my arms and body and get the feeling of where I need to be. This week, it was finally nice out on a lesson day so we were able to ride outside. We started with our flat work, which Renee had though was much improved over all. I was still not quite right with my right shoulder, so we did the hand on the back of the saddle exercise again. Then we moved on to some courses. Renee didn't give us a warm up jump, but instead had us jump right into the course, so our first course was a bit iffy. I called it practice LOL. The next time through the course was a little better. We had a few rushy spots, especially on our bending line. Renee then gave us a second course. The course started out well with a nice even pace through the first three then got a bit rambly. Our final jump was a single diagonal, which had been part of our bending line, going in the opposite direction now. We were cantering along quite nicely, then about 5 strides out she started to suck back and stared down at the jump. I could feel she wanted to stop, but I put my heel in her and kept my focus up and she went over. I was quite proud of myself, as was Renee, because her sucking back would normally cause me to go with her and result in a stop. After this Renee had me do an exaggerated position with my shoulders very low, but my chest and chin up. She had me do it down this one line that she was getting particularly quick on to show my that that position slows her down better than sitting up or going to the reins as I had been doing. It made it ten times better. Then she had me do my first course again and wanted me to do whatever I had to in my position to make the course nice. Well, that was a bit of a fail. There was basically nothing nice about the course. She got quick in spots, took some short and long distances, etc. I did the course again and this time I kept my eye and position steadier and worked on the lower position. This was our best course so far. She stayed at much nicer pace all the way around, including a better bending line. The only thing that neither Renee or I liked was our final outside line. She had rushed a bit into it, but I got her to hold and not get the long distance coming out. We worked on that line by itself a few times and finally got it nice and smooth with good distance. Overall, it was a successful lesson and I feel confident going into our next show this weekend.

2nd Hunter Show

Sorry for my lack of posts. I have been crazy busy with the end of the semester, working, etc. Anyway, Satin and I had our second hunter show at the end of April. She put in yet another great performance. She once again warmed up perfectly, staying at a nice pace and jumping everything with this ease. The course involved a bending line, which is something we practice often at home, so I knew Renee would be happy to hear that and that it would be no problem. Our first course went pretty smoothly. She got a little quicker to the first and last singles, but was pretty consistent in between. The second course had some issues. She had a late lead change coming off the bending line, which made the turn to the next diagonal not as nice as could be. We also had a break to the trot coming around to the outside line, not really sure why. The break to the trot messed with her striding in that line though, so it didn't match with our distance in the other lines. The third course, had another late lead change, but was otherwise okay. The flat work was better than last show. She kept a nicer trot and more consistent head set. I think the canter is what helped her in this class, since that seemed to be when he looked at her the most. We ended up with a 6th in this class again, which I was happy with out of 12. She earned a 6th in the first course, nothing in the 2nd which I expected because of the break, and nothing in the third, which I was surprised about, but I was happy with her course so that is ok. Sorry for the lack of details, the show was a few weeks ago now so it is not as clear in my head. We are going to another show on Saturday from a different schooling series. Renee thought it would be a good idea to get her out another time since there is 6 weeks between our last show from our regular series at the end of April to the next in the end of June. I will try to post earlier this time!