Monday, November 16, 2015

Ride Accountability/Ride Journal

There's a lotta money in this photo...
I've been struggling to keep my horse's training/conditioning plan in mind recently. With the time off for his broken splint, I'm kind of floundering. Part of the issue is not keeping a good enough record and reflection journal of my rides.

So that's where you guys come in.

For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to try to do a weekly ride summary on the blog. If it seems to work for me, I'll keep it up. In the meantime, let's call this a trial period.

Ride Journal | Nov. 9-15
"The Week of the Eye Injuries"

Nov 9
The barn is closed in the mornings, so I ended up riding in the late evening. The barn indoor was much more crowded than I am used to. There was one lesson, one training ride, and up to 7 other horses in there at one time. Everything from a training level horse toting around his rider to a rider working on passage was happening around us. Moments like this make me incredibly thankful my little red horse stops and turns on a dime.

Pig started off very stiff and not terribly forward. It was raining and windy, so I wonder if he was a little bit cold. Still, with a little bit of asking, he started to loosen up and give a bit more. We cantered for all of 5-10 minutes, but didn't ask for any real collection. Being late, I didn't push the stiffness issue. We finished up when he loosened up enough to give me a decent shoulder-in in both directions.

Nov. 10
Minor eye laceration. Nbd.
The minor eye injury notwithstanding, Pig was good for this ride. He was much looser than the night before, even though it was still raining and chilly. We cantered a solid 10 minutes during this ride, and he was happy to do canter/walk transitions. Lateral work was good, and connection was fairly stable. We rode for 30 minutes.

Nov. 12
This ride was out of this world. When we left the barn, it was pouring down rain. We explored a big powerful trot on a loose rein all the way from the turnout field to the indoor, arriving completely drenched. Still, no amount of water could dampen Pig's work ethic. He was happily forward into the bridle from the moment I picked up the reins, and very supple. 
At least it wasn't pouring on the way back!
The highlight of this ride was the canter. I stuck to a 20 meter circle, for the most part. After warming up the canter in a low frame, I asked Pig to come up with his frame, really collect the canter, and give me more air time on every third stride. To the left he gave me this amazingly uphill and lofty canter stride every time I asked. To the right he wanted to rush instead of sitting and jumping. By really sitting deep and being insistent with my half halts, I managed to convince him to put in a better effort to the right. We did a little canter half pass work, which led to me accidentally cuing for a change (and getting it, late behind). I decided to try once more and actually think about my aids, and we ended up with one balanced and clean change. The best part? He landed from the second change and just cantered off calmly. Feels like progress!

Nov.14 
Another, more serious, eye laceration... 
After watching a clinic all day, I had this idea that my horse would come out and be as foot perfect as he was on Thursday. That was clearly ridiculous. Once I got down to business, it was clear that my horse was incredibly stiff, especially to the left. On top of that, I had absolutely no real connection and no half halt. Awesome

Though I'm not proud of it, both of us pushed each other's buttons for this whole ride. We fought like an old married couple. I had the thought (more than a few times) "this ride is going nowhere; I should just get off." But I never actually did.

Eventually, Pig and I did find some harmony. I started using both of my legs, instead of just one and at a time. I also finally sat up and started carrying my own hands. He never loosened up entirely (his back felt like a piece of twisted steel), but he relaxed enough to change his bend without completely dropping his brain on the floor. We were even able to school a touch of left half pass (at the trot), and work on keeping true bend.

Though this ride was terrible, it's good for me to remember we were able to work through it by the end. (Patience and self-aware evaluation always win over frustration. If only I could remember that more quickly.) There was a time where this ride was an almost daily occurrence, and I would have to just quit. Now we rarely have this ride, and I do have the tools to solve the issues.

Poor Emma  was visiting to audit the clinic, and had to sit through this ride. I'll let her describe how terrible it was from a spectator point of view.

Nov. 15
Despite Pig's newest eye laceration causing his eye to swell like crazy...
Now that looks seriously painful...
This ride was actually pretty good. Guinness started off stiff, and reluctant in the contact. A little bit of detached and patient work at the walk loosened him up and had him moving into the bridle. Remembering Saturday further, I made sure to install a working half halt before we left the walk.

At the trot/canter Pig was reluctant to stretch, but fairly easily convinced to give it a try. He eventually started swinging his back more, and was very willing in the lateral work. We did a little counter canter and a few up/down transitions. On a 20m circle, we also worked on doing a super collected trot for a couple of strides every 10 or so trot strides. That went extremely well. We didn't school that for very long.

I ended up handing Pig over to a friend to ride while I rode her sales horse. It was tons of fun to see him go around quietly with her. She even did a fair amount of trot half pass, something she just learned on her own horse! Schoolmaster moments make me proud!

Summary:
More days like this and less of cold nasty rain, please! I'm getting sick of conditioning my saddle on the daily.
Pig is just coming back into full work. He's able to give me really good work for for only 30 minutes before he tires. We're back to cantering quite a bit, and schooling pretty much everything in 3rd. I'm limiting the work with changes until everything else is very solid. I need to focus more on relaxation in the warm up, but next week can do a bit more work on super collection at the canter and trot. I will need to keep an eye towards straightness and maintaining the connection in those moments. I also need to only school the super collection on every-other ride. 

17 comments:

  1. i pretty much use my blog exclusively as a photo album and ride journal. it works for me, ya know? (except, ya know, when i can't actually ride... boo). and honestly all i could think about watching Pig feel feelings on saturday was "Yep. I have SO been there!" silly horses... one day they bend, an the next? nope, too hard....

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  2. Ride recaps like this are the best. I need to do more of the short ones rather than lengthy ones. Also, Pig needs to stop trying to remove his eyes. Make sure you tell him that even blind horses can do dressage, so he stops that nonsense!

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  3. The main reason I started a blog was so I could keep track of things for me. It forces me to be accountable and keep an accurate measure of our progress.

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  4. Great idea to journal your rides....and sorry to see all the eye injuries :( those are no fun). Our horses love throwing us curve balls and new issues as soon as we figure out one, another one pops up!

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  5. Yes stay accountable! :D that's what the bloglies is all about

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  6. Oh Pig. He needs some bubble wrap for Christmas!!

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  7. my blog serves as that as well. I've also taken to scoring every ride out of 5 on my calendar. :)

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  8. Horses are such a mixed bag. Glad I'm not the only one with super random crappy rides. ;-)

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    1. Nope. For sure not the only one. Let's make a "don't take it personally" pact...

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  9. Keeping a riding journal is SO helpful - I feel like a lot of us use our blogs for that! I know just the act of writing out what I learned or worked on helps me process things and figure out where to go next.

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  10. Ah horses!
    They sure keep us on our toes, then there are the redheads who can be pot luck everytime you get on as to which beasty comes out to play ;-)
    I often think myself mad for the mental games horses bring into my life ☺

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    1. But life without them would be so utterly boring!

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  11. I love hearing about your progress!

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  12. This is an excellent idea that I may have to shamelessly rip-off.

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