Monday, August 18, 2014

Quotes

"I propose a new word, one that means an obstacle to be overcome eventually, through consistent and diligent application of aids that, while they will absolutely not, under any circumstances, achieve the desired result today, will eventually work, and the rider just needs to have faith and get a grip and keep plugging away at it and, when she's seriously considering quitting and taking up alpaca farming instead, she should remember that the real solution is five-or-so years of this and that there's nothing she can really do to expedite the process anyway." -- Lauren Sprieser

What are you talking about? Of course training me is a game of endurance. You like endurance sports, don't you?
Over this summer, I’ve been learning to play the waiting game and realizing how much of training is passive. This horse of mine is a tense, nervous, ball of try. Ask him to bring his haunches in, and he’ll tie himself in knots trying to do what you asked. Ask for a halt, and he will sit right down and slam on the brakes. However, ask for something too hard or demand too high of a level of perfection, and he will shut down. 

So, for the last two months the pressure has been off. We don’t need the shoulder-in to be perfect. We don’t need to leg yield straight. We don’t need to drill away at the abysmal medium trot issue. All I’ve demanded is a horse more calm, supple, and forward than the day before. Relaxation has been at the top of my mind for every ride. A tight poll or locked neck hasn’t been tolerated, but everything else has been treated as a “work in progress.” 

Instead of becoming frustrated by how tight my horse is, when he was loose and relaxed the ride before, I take a deep breath and work to relax and loosen him. I’ve been able to notice when my own tightness is restricting his trot work, and instead work at the walk and canter for the majority of the ride.

The transition in my horse has been phenomenal. His flexibility has improved dramatically. His response to my aids has become sharper. His mouth is softer, and his confidence in the contact has grown. His tight/nervous issues have been disappearing: his head tilt at the shoulder-in is much less dramatic, his dropped shoulder is less of a block, and he’s even stopped baring his teeth constantly and even begun foaming a little bit. 

Taking away the pressure has also resulted in bigger leaps in our training. We’re no longer barely creating a shoulder-in. It’s much easier to create, and often I’m just refining the bend or asking for more forward. The haunches-in look less like a leg yield with shoulders-on-the-wall, and more like a movement with true bend. Best of all? The more relaxed tenor of our rides means I am finally able to ask for complex movement strings without my horse dissolving into a puddle of nerves.  Haunches-in to shoulder-in? We got this. Leg yield/shoulder-in? No big deal. 

I’d ask “who is this horse,” but I think the better question is “who is this rider?”

He's so fancy, I just need to learn to keep up.
Hey guys! My lovely friend Jen at Cobjockey is running an amazing contest to celebrate hitting 100 followers (she's awesome like that!). Enter here; but honestly, I wish you all awful luck, so I can have a chance of winning. ;)

16 comments:

  1. I've been working on similar things every time I ride- staying relaxed, not asking too much, taking smaller steps. It's difficult sometimes! (Like, let's not talk about what my right shoulder does involuntarily...)

    Kudos to you (and Guinness!) for making what sounds like a lot of progress!

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    1. Oh man, my left hand goes off on it's own tangents all the time. I cannot keep that thing under control. :)

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  2. It really is amazing when you focus on something else besides the movements, that the movements start falling into place :)

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    1. So weird. Almost like stressing out about things doesn't help them...

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  3. Our own state of body and mind has such an outstandnig affect on our horses. Blessing. Curse.

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    1. Absolutely. Mind/Body link. It's for realz.

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  4. I'm beginning to think that we are the same person- riding the same over achieving chestnut........excellent post. I've been trying like mad to ride like this on my youngster. I think that i need a support group.....

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    1. Yes! A support group is absolutely what is needed! After a ride I feel like I need to have a beer and talk everything over with someone. :)

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  5. Sometimes stepping back turns out to be jumping forward. =) Relaxation is something Hemie and I are working on too. So much harder than it sounds though.

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  6. Yes. This. I'm doing the same thing with Courage and it's paying huge dividends.

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    1. Awesome! I think TBs thrive on relaxation, like it recharges their awesome battery.

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  7. Congratulations, sounds like fab progress is being made - i love following what you do with G cos i think i can steal some of your tips for Miss Kika - although we are obviously a long way off doing your fancy movements

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    1. Thanks! :)

      I'm so glad you're getting something out of my ramblings. I wish I could meet your Kika. She sounds like such a cool horse!

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  8. congrats on the progress! I think you nailed it with the 'who is this rider' question. I'm just learning the very basics of dressage - simple things like steady contact and feeling my horse give to pressure. And the one thing I've figured out: she mirrors me and whatever tightness I'm carrying.

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  9. That's so cool! I love this post because I have a lot of the same problems, or will be coming up on them soon (hopefully), and I enjoy reading about what has helped you. I'm really happy that the training is going well for you!

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