Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Starting the Half Pass

I think lateral work is becoming my favorite part of dressage. Going sideways is just pure fun. This enjoyment surprises me, as Guinness used to be just terrible at going sideways.

Back when we were working towards First Level, Guinness was so crooked that we couldn't get a straight leg yield to save our lives. Steady work on increasing his flexibility and his ability to come through evenly helped me to straighten out our leg yields. Even so, we still had issues. While responsive off my leg when it comes to going sideways, Guinness tends to lose his forward activity. It's always been a struggle to keep his impulsion in the movement.

Beyond the leg yield, shoulder-in, travers, and renvers feel somewhat magical. As our Second Level work has gotten much better, Guinness' flexibility has leapt forward. These movements have become less about creating the angle, and are now entirely about containing the angle and creating more expression and flexion. There's something much more fun about asking for more as opposed to begging to create some.

Now we are working on starting the half pass, and all of those lateral movements are coming together to create the most fun movement of all. Guinness is naturally as good at the half pass as he was terrible at the leg yield. In the half pass, the bend to the direction of movement forces me to manage his shoulders more effectively, and keeps him from falling into the movement. As those were our biggest problems in the leg yield, the half pass feels easy.

With the shoulder issues better managed, I feel free to ask for more forward. In fact, forward probably remains our biggest problem in the half pass. Guinness is very good at going sideways. But, he loses his impulsion. For me the half pass work has been all about keeping the sideways very shallow, and the forward very exaggerated.

So fun. I can't wait to see how we improve over the year!

Click for link to video (video footage from November)

24 comments:

  1. I am in the same boat as you were when beginning lateral work... we have the basic understanding of leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches-in, and sometimes baby half pass at the walk and trot, but man is it EFFORT to get there! It's educational and encouraging to read about your improvement in lateral work with Guinness!

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    1. You'll get there! For a long while I thought maybe my horse and I were damaged in the head because of how retarded our leg yields were. Seriously. They were so crooked, and I could NOT fix them. My trainer is a miracle worker, though. She keeps me thinking about straightness in the leg yield, and keeping the shoulders square. It's not a quick fix, but over time we're getting there!

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  2. New reader here who's been lurking for the past few weeks catching up. :) I love your blog! Congrats on the half pass!! What a nice execution: you guys make it look effortless!

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    1. Thanks so much! Still a lot to work on, obviously!

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  3. He looks like he really enjoys it! Love seeing and hearing about your progress!

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    1. This horse LOVES going sideways at the canter. Seriously.So glad we found something he loves so much. :)

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  4. :-) Can't wait to feel like that.

    Oh, and I feel way, way better about doing nothing with the half pass since we're still working on the leg yield/shoulder in. Look how clueless I am over here.

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    1. So fun! Leg yield and shoulder in are your starter for half pass. You need to get the sideways and straightness from the leg yield, and the shoulder control from the shoulder-in. Then the haunches-in teaches you how to keep the bend without losing engagement. I'm still putting it altogether, but we'll all get there, I promise!

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  5. woot - awesome video!! and i love your distinction between 'asking for *more*' v 'asking for some' -- kinda helps clarify some things in my mind... in any case, nice work and good luck keeping up that impulsion!

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    1. Yeah I love that separation, too. It helps me not nitpick on days where my horse is sore or not mentally playing the game. Those days I aim for "some" but don't push for "more." Now that I have a good feel for what the distinction feels like, it's easier to tell myself when I'm getting enough from my horse and lay off.

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  6. You guys look great!!! As usual! :)

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    1. Aw thanks! :) We look more put together now... when our reins are shorter!! ;)

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  7. I cannot wait to learn how to go sideways - Dressage Diva Dancing here we come...i hope...someday!

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    1. Dooooo it! Mini leg yields are a super easy way to start, and something both Nancy and Kika could work on, even when they're out of shape due to nasty winter! Try little leg yield zig zags -- one or two strides off the wall, one or two strides straight, and one or two strides back to the wall. Try to keep their shoulders squared up so they really have to widen at the shoulder to step sideways. The amount of sideways isn't important, it's developing the control (and your feel of that control) of the shoulders (keeping them straight/opening them up/moving them off your rein). Give it a try, and don't feel bad if it takes awhile to really develop that control. It took me forever!

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    2. I'll have to research how to ask for them as lateral movements is not something I have ever learned :-/

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    3. *hugs* you're totes the bestest!!!

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  8. Wow! Ya'll look great :) We only go sideways at the walk and sometimes trot, and there is a lot of room for improvement with it.

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    1. We do a whole lot of things at the walk. It's a really nice and low key way to introduce both myself and Guinness to a concept without running out of space on the long side, or trying to coordinate too many aids too fast. There isn't much you can't work on at the walk (Except flying changes! Drat!!), and really clarify your aids so they don't get so overwhelming at faster gaits.

      There is always so much room for improvement. My trainer said something interesting to me once "You work so hard to get up the levels, then you get to Grand Prix and spend your whole life trying to perfect it. It's never perfect, there are always improvements to be made and work to be done." So true.

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  9. I do love me some leg yields, and have just started haunches-in and really, really appreciate feeling my horse bring his haunches around in response to my leg. It probably helps that he's a pretty flexible guy, especially compared to the ponies I leased in the past, but it really is so badass to feel your horse move sideways off your leg!

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    1. It's like magic! I always want to yell out "HEY EVERYONE! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!" :)

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    2. RIGHT?! My mother in law has had me do it on her PSG horse in a little lesson, and at first I was like "wtf am I doing... I put my hands and legs like where or what now?" and then suddenly it's all BOOM! Yeah, I LOVE dressage.

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