Thursday, December 10, 2015

Progress Check: Half Pass and Flying Changes

It's been almost a exactly a year since I first started working on the half pass. It's been almost exactly 8 months since I started working towards flying changes.

I think it's time for a little look back at our progress, don't you think?

Canter:
May 2015
This was our collected canter back in May. You can see that it's starting to get where it needs to be behind, but that Pig is still blocked up front and too tight through the withers and back to actually release and go. My half halts, at the start of the clip, are blocked in the neck and back. While the back legs come further under, Pig's back doesn't lift and his engagement is rather false. It's a start. I remember being thrilled he stayed in the contact, instead of just going light and abandoning the exercise.
Nov 2015
This is a moment from a canter exercise Thanksgiving weekend. You can clearly see my half halt go through (hint, watch for the tail). Instead of getting tighter, the half halt actually gets Pig to let go with his neck and lift his withers. In that moment his canter goes up instead of faster. Breakthrough! This video isn't even one of our good moments. It still needs to be confirmed, but the good moments are really good. Now, I just need to stop throwing around my upper body so much. Goodness...

Half Pass:
Nov 2014
This clip is from very early in our work with half passes. Being picky, Pig isn't through (head waggling) and his haunches are leading for most of the movement. He could use more true bend through his ribcage, most of it is coming in the neck and haunch instead. Still, I was (and still am) very happy with this initial work.
Nov 2015
This half pass left has been the bane of our existence for awhile. Pig seems to be weaker this way, and has a hard time staying loose enough to move sideways and forward. We're finally getting there, but you can see where I straighten him halfway through to keep him relaxed and forward. That's been key to getting a better movement. Still, he's much more through and relaxed than in the clip from a year ago. His bend is better, too. (Though the angle makes it hard to see, and it could be more consistent.)

Changes:
These have been all over the place. Typically they come in three varieties: the late behind, the auto, and the disunited dolphin.
May 2015, late behind
Here is a prime example of the late behind change. It's on my aid, but the hind just takes a stride or two to complete the movement (trotting behind a step, gross). We scored a deserving 4 on this. Pig's relative calm attitude about the slip up was unusual for this time in our training. Most of the time he'd throw a fit about being late, and try to bolt into the hind change. I can't blame him. That late trot step fumble thing looks really uncomfortable.
May 2015, auto change, yes this is the same test
Early in our training the auto-change returned with a vengeance. While these were usually relatively clean, they could happen anywhere and with great dramatics. So fun. Stopping an auto change was usually grounds for a complete emotional breakdown from Pig. Not a good idea.
Later in May 2015, the disunited dolphin
Here we have what starts to look like it'll be a really nice change, only to leave our hind legs for a quarter of the arena. This is the opposite of fun to ride. The rest of the day was a nightmare while Pig over-dramatized his life choices. My seat kinda sucks here, and my cue is terrible. We'll just go right ahead and say we both needed work.
Nov 2015, late behind
Fast-forward to today. Pig is much calmer about changes, and has figured out to listen for my aid (most of the time). He's also (mostly) cut out bolting after a biffed change. This particular moment is late behind, but must less so that previously. I'll take it. Other pluses? He stayed through and balanced in the whole movement. Getting there! Downside? I seem to throw my body at him in the cue. It's hard to see, so maybe I'm not as bad as I think?

What do you think? Am I crazy? Is there improvement here? I wish I had more half pass video, as that is really our best movement and one Pig truly enjoys the hell out of doing!

24 comments:

  1. I definitely see improvement. I'm not exactly amazing at seeing everything that should be seen (no expert here) but even though some of the changes are late/disconnected, he definitely seems way more relaxed as you progressed, which is a big plus for a thoroughbred.

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    1. Relaxation is our biggest goal, I think.

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  2. I think you guys have improved. It's easier for me to see in the half pass, since I'm on my phone and the changes are harder to see. Overall I think Pig (who is adorable by the way) is looking much more relaxed.

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    1. Aw, thanks. I think he's pretty adorable, too.

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  3. You give me hope and simultaneously take it away, haha. You guys are making strides. :-) Slow, steady progress for the OTTB boys.

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    1. Nooo! Don't let me take it away! You guys are making SUCH fantastic progress. You're hitting on things it took me forever to grasp.

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  4. "over-dramatized his life choices" BAHAHA.I see improvement!

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  5. i love the gifs!! Pig staying more through and not losing his marbles when theres a mistake is HUGE progress - arguably more difficult to achieve than the correct mechanics.

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  6. Wow, so much progress! He's looking so much more through and balanced and stronger. All that hard work is paying off!

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  7. He's looking so much better in both of those! Not bolting/having tantrums is a huge thing for biffed changes!

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  8. I am no connaisseure of dressage, but it all looks a lot smoother and harmonised now. One day I hope to log the necessary saddle time to learn fancy dancing.

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  9. Definitely looks like less of a flail in the change!

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    1. Less flail = always a plus. Except for pharaohs. Then always flail.

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  10. I see much improvement!! I mean it has taken Hampton 2 years to get somewhat ok at changes, so I would say you are doing quite well! :) GO Pig!

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    1. Haha, thanks! Still waiting for Hampers to beat the trot into Pig.

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  11. Definitely improving! I've been working on flying changes for so freaking long. I suck at them. My horse can do them with a competent rider

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    1. Isn't that always the way? I've never seen this horse do a dressage change with another rider. Hmmm....

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  12. Oh my God you sum up what I am feeling about our changes right now too :D I am also struggling with them - but your progress is great already :)

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    1. Aw thanks! I need to catch up with you and Hafl. I'm sure he's trying hard for you, though!

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  13. Thank you for reminding me that we have to ride through, and keep riding through, progress. That progress doesn't just happen. I was really getting down on myself yesterday for feeling like the mare and I have regressed and should never be allowed outside of a leadline class, or inside even. You guys are looking great!

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