Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to the grind.

So good news and bad news. The bad news is that shows cost a lot of money and I'm out of my budgeted gas money for barn time (I am a  budget whore--there's money in the account, but it must not deviate from the budget!), but that's pretty much par for the course when you're a broke twenty-something so I guess it's not actually bad bad news. The good news is that Hubby has begrudgingly cheerfully volunteered to take me to the barn when he gets home from work and now there are riding pictures instead of "Here's Bobby in the wash stall" pictures. What a good Hubby.

working on the dreaded left inside bend.
One of the comments the judge gave me Sunday was that I really need to work on Bobby's weak left side. The left side is where his neck was injured so he's not only weak on that side, but also just a general mess. I'm bad about letting hard things slide, so Wednesday was left side boot camp. Bobby was not pleased.

wringing his tail in  his signature "i hate you" fashion.
I started him off with a good longe in side reins (which remained attached to my saddle because I'm incapable of unbuckling them because apparently I'm retarded), then let him do a little trot to the right and some long and semi-low trot to the left to warm him up. Back to the walk where he pretty easily came up into the contact. Down the longsides was really nice work, and then I put him on a circle. Suddenly he didn't know what inside bend was. He'd never been asked to do it before ever. Oh, wait. Yes he has! I was very insistent with my inside leg and he finally got tired of being poked with my spur was soft and bendy.

To the trot, not so much. In fact, not at all. We had a lot of these moments:

"zomg, cannot put my head down or bend or trot like a normal horse!"

After many minutes of this nonsense, I brought him back to a walk and thought to my trainer-less self, "What now, self?" Self reminded me that Bobby seems to work on contact better after we've had a full warm up with cantering. So we did a long, strong canter that Bobby was pretty boss at and then tried normal horse trotting again. He was fabulous. Self, you are so clever.

I let him have some fun cantering over this insane course of ground poles set up, then we ended with the easy work--a canter and some trotting to the right.

Yesterday, I set up the last grid we did (2' vertical, 1 stride, xrail bounce, 2 strides, oxer) and a 2'6 vertical. After a brief warm up, I cantered him over the single vertical a few times. The first time through he was lovely. The second time I didn't have a big enough canter going and he chipped in a stride. To be perfectly honest, when he did that I felt like puking. My confidence definitely took a hit from Sunday's fall and I was a little bit terrified even if it was only a little rail that would have been happy to go tumbling to the ground if Bobby hit it.

really not that scary.
Other things I'm irrationally afraid of:

1. Driving somewhere alone at night in the dark woods and having someone step out in front of me with a bloody axe and breaking into my car and killing me.

2. Drowning.

3. Falling while ice skating and running over my own hand and severing it. Especially irrational as I've only been ice skating twice.

both hands still attached. bonus.

 The third time over the vertical, he was perfect again so we started working through the grid. Once again, we ran into "Where the fuck do I turn in?!" to the first fence. There's no room for error with so little space and it was pretty much hit or miss.

We started with the oxer at 2'6. That was all well and good. I actually released over the stupid thing instead of ripping my poor horse's face off.

you're welcome, baby horsie.
Then we raised the oxer to 3'. Bobby was all, "Wait, what?!" and I was all, "Let me rip your face off again!" I don't know how I went from a perfectly acceptable auto release on Red to not even being able to do a stupid crest release on Bobby.

red and i in december, knowing how to ride.
bobby and i in august, not knowing how to ride.
So, Bloggers, help me out here. Any suggestions on how to get any sort of release back? Neck strap? Grab mane well before the fence? The problem I have with grabbing mane is that it make me feel like I'm too far forward before I need to be.

Also, I'm really going to focus on getting a dressage canter before starting jumping. On such a gargantuan horse, he's got to be way more packaged to make it over 3'+. There's no reason he can't do dressage work in a jumping saddle. There's no reason I can't do dressage work in a jumping saddle. This is first and foremost on the upcoming workout list. I don't know why I'm so broken at jumping now.


  1. Robert Gage put pole before the fence, one stride out and told me to release when I got to the pole. It felt really weird to me but my horse jumped pretty good since i let him go!

  2. Whenever I'm in a situation which is causing me jump anxiety (pretty much any time there is a fence in front of me), I grab. Since Cuna hates being grabbed in the face, I grab anything and everything "not his face", depending on the degree of anxiety. First xc school: mane, neck strap, breastcollar. Because I am dumb about remembering to grab neckstraps generally and always ride with a breastcollar, I have that handy.

    Mane works best though--just grab a place far enough up the neck that your hands aren't in your crotch but low enough it doesn't throw your body forward. If you have gorilla arms like me, it's pretty easy.

  3. Love the picture, my instructor does the same as L.Williams and I have found that it really helped me.

  4. My instructor makes me do a pretty evil exercise.
    Just on the flat, get a good forward, jumping canter and then release the inside rein completely. If you have any anxiety about releasing (I do!) then you'll find this REALLY difficult.
    It's really a trust exercise. Once you have that 'release trust' on the flat, it's just a matter of taking that into jumping.

    My instructor also had me exaggerate the release over fences (to ridiculous amounts) to re-train your body reaction.
    *Shrugs* Might work?
    Good luck!

  5. I agree with the grabbing something...

    and I LOVE your OTTB shirt :) I've still got to order one of those (or two or three or four haha).

  6. i practice doing two-point on the flat and bending my hips and stretching my arms to my horses ears, half way up the neck, in my lap, etc. to get comfortable in different positions. i also think about exaggerating my position while i'm schooling at home so that when i get to the shows i get a half way correct position. good luck!

  7. I feel like the basics of dressage are really things that anyone should be working on if your a good rider. I was always intimidated by dressage, but while reading your blog i realized that the things in your dressage tests, most of it is stuff I do already (I ride western) obviously there are differences in seat, but I work on a lot of transitions, and getting different gears in different gaits, and all of that fun stuff. Alright well that got a bit out of hand, but the point of this long winded comment was that I feel like working on the basics of dressage can be done in any saddle hahaha


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