Wednesday, January 23, 2019

When/Then

First things first I'm the realest, Opie's leg could not be healing up any better. I'm planning on removing the sutures Sunday, and then hopefully he can start going back out again on Monday.

and maybe one of those days i'll wash the blood out of his
ankle fluff...

He's been handling stall rest much better than I expected him to. I even let him go to the indoor for a quick naked rollies this morning, and his eyes only popped out of his head a little bit at his "freedom". (He was still attached to me. The only reason I'm comfortable with turning him loose before the full 14 days is the 3' of snow outside to slow down any crazies.)

In the meantime, I'm throwing it back to when he still made good life choices and was getting ridden.

do you not do dressage in uggs?

Riding Bestie came up on a Friday and even though it was a high of 15* and she was only seven or eight weeks post-baby I made her ride my horse anyway. Because that's what friends are for.

I always get a lot out of seeing her ride my horse because there's zero emotional attachment. She's not mean of course--I fill that role just fine myself--but she takes no excuses. Go forward, do the thing I ask, the end. And the horse unsurprisingly is like, "Oh, for real? Okay, no problem."

uphill horse and matching uphill doggo

So the day after she was up I got on determined to channel my inner Sarah and just ride my horse forward first and foremost. It worked and it didn't. I still wanted to jump right in and participate by picking when Opie tried an evasion so the first half was: Pick a fight, no STOP send him forward, ooh fuck with each other again, NO DO NOT.

that side eye is a-scheming. 

But eventually we sorted each other out. I had to get after him a bit about being a lazy bender because that's his latest favorite sneaky trick, but he finally caved and just did the work which was ten times easier than trying to get out of the work.

I finished up doing about a million and a half canter transitions, and then working in the canter itself to keep trying to push the concept that a half halt does not mean quit. You can see that in the second video where he keeps taking a step or two of trot every time I half halt until finally the concept goes through. (There's also some trot at the end if that suits your fancy. These videos are really only interesting to me to see what I need to work on.)



The videos were good in that is showed my I've got nothing on Sarah as far as forward riding goes. On Monday I went back out determined to work on that--forever and always--but also make sure I wasn't being so handsy. Dopie needs to be more honest and quiet in the contact and that comes from me reciprocating.

It was a fucking fantastic ride. I mean, I took a break halfway and thought about having a pity cry because I was so frustrated, but I was able to finish with the best trot the little Dopie Horse has ever given me.

slooooowlllyyyy turning into a grown up horse

In my current horse book rotation is Fit & Focused in 52 by Daniel Stewart. It's got a bunch of yada yada in the front, but the core of the book is that every week is a new workout exercise combined with a mental focus. (Full review to come eventually.) Last week's mental exercise was the When/Then Technique. To paraphrase, horses are dumb and you might be too, but if you start training yourself to prepare for the unexpected with the thought process of "When me/my horse does something dumb, then I will execute this well thought out and prepared for plan."

Does that make sense? I'm about to tie it in, I promise.

I'd just read through that before my ride on Monday and applied it to my most likely "U R dum" scenario--the warm up ring.

#childgenius generally sticks to business, but when he doesn't i've gotta be able to
channel my own #vaguelygenius 

When my horse does not go steadily into the contact, when he starts wagging his head, when he comes above the bit or ducks behind it, then I blank and resign myself to being fucked get really handsy hope the judge is blinded by cuteness I REMEMBER MY LONG LOST TRAINING AND TROUBLESHOOT.

The first half of Monday's ride was battling my instinct to pull. Or get fussy with my hands. Or just quit and hope it fixed itself. I was policing myself which is where the frustration with myself was building. I would catch it, and then one circle later I was doing it again. (It was also at this point that I was planning on budgeting a lesson for the next week with that extra money, but LOL, horses.)

Opie, for his part, was like, "Why on earth would I just go forward into the contact and stay quietly there? Your hands are annoying and it's easier for both of us if you just wiggle me down and we pretend like that's legit."

pulling on the inside rein is just so much easier tho

But I persevered. No cheating, send the horse up onto the bit. I am not going back to fill in colossal holes five years later this time around. 

As we went around and around, and I told myself not to do this or that, I realized I was at the when part but hadn't come up with a then solution. Fortunately, once upon a time, I could still afford lessons and something BM told me blipped onto my radar. If I couldn't get what I was trying for from forward, try to get it from slower. (Or vice versa.) But don't linger at one or the other and expect it to just happen. If it's not working, try the other thing.

Well I wasn't getting anything but a pissy horse over constantly kicking him forward into my annoying hands, so I slowed it down. BM doesn't mean a sluggish, toe dragging jog. Slower is usually harder because it means bouncier and more engaged. I was able to slow my tweaker brain down as well and really stop my hands from all bad things. From there, with quiet hands and an engaged booty, Opie had his aha moment.

Once there, solid and steady in the contact, I was able to work in and out of different trots, and we finished ballin'. 

And then that was the last time I rode. Boo.

often i like to scrunch my leg up too. one thing at a time, my friends.

I'm excited to get back to work in the near future. I love showing, and I love test riding, but figuring out how to be a better rider and make a better horse can be just as fun--if also mentally debilitating until I come out the other side. Yay horses?

19 comments:

  1. My right hand is faster than my brain and likes to go full lizard and crawl back to the heat and comfort of my body, instead of staying out and giving. My brain finally realizes what lizard hand is doing, but it's a constant fight. Brain v lizard. Seriously. Sci-fi should pick this shit up.

    I also like to pull my leg up to my ears. Why is this?

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    1. Probably you have lizard legs as well. This is a malady I am familiar with.

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  2. Ugh these are all such hard things to train your body not to do. But damn girl, that canter!!!

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    1. Most improved for sure. Now if I can just not fuck up the other two gaits that come easily to him we'll be set.

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  3. I'm a leg scruncher too, it's an impossibly hard habit to break!

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    1. I drop my stirrups a lot too, but as soon as my foot goes back in there goes my leg again!

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  4. He looks nice in the videos. My left hand goes rogue all the time.

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    1. My hands are equal offenders. They both suck. :P

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  5. Muscle memory is the hardest thing. The one light bulb moment for me came when I read an article in human psychology about negative thoughts. Basically the mind doesn’t register the “don’t, won’t etc” so when I would think “Gem won’t spook at this rock” all my brain heard was “Gem will spook at this rock” and then she would. So I changed to thinking “we will go past this rock calmly” anyway. Maybe blather but it could relate by stopping thought process of “I will not pull on the inside rein” and replacing with “I will use outside leg”.

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    1. I like the sound of this a lot! I'll definitely put it to work when I get back in the saddle.

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  6. Gosh he sure looks like a proper Dressage pony!! Great job with him!

    I hope he heals up fast for you!

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    1. I hope he returns to being a proper dressage pony once he gets back to work and not a rabid monster lol

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  7. I just love those moments where you and your horse are like OOHHHHHH That's what we're doing! I like this way of thinking and if I ever ride any of my horses again, will definitely try and keep this in the tool box. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. If only it wasn't so hard to have an epiphany. I swear, it's like they only come around about once a year or so for me. #facepalm

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  8. I'm glad Opie's healing is going well!

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    1. Me too! I don't know if either one of us has the mental fortitude for a long term recovery process.

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  9. i like the "when/then" framework a lot! i'm such a busy busy rider who is always like, 'omg better try all the things!' the literal second something isn't working. lately tho i'm trying to just be really steady and still and 'ride the horse where i want him' and just be patient. shit's hard, yo.

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    1. Steady and still is sooo much harder than trying to micromanage everything. Why is is so hard to do nothing?!

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  10. Holy J word... I am crazy impressed with Opie. I am honestly shocked how quickly he has transformed into a dressage diva from a track star....

    Great work you two!

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