Thursday, August 28, 2014

Riding? It involves the brain?

I am riding a dressage high. How is that even a real thing for an eventer? But I do love me some flat work. Mostly it has to do with seeing a problem, setting a plan, and--get this--following through with it.


But first let me fill you in on all the things Bobby has been doing this week. He's kind of an important dude, so I know you're all dying to be up to date.

On Monday he did nothing but get a good grooming and liniment rubdown. And also lots of cookies.

whoa, crazy horse. don't take off!

On Tuesday we hauled out for a two hour trail ride which we did ninety percent at the walk. The other ten percent was Bobby doing his best impression of an endurance horse and skimming the ground at a trot like a mofo.

chilling in the water because no more being stupid about water, mr magee

On Wednesday we went up to the cross country field for S's birthday. Bobby was all, "Whatevs. Every day life for a gangster." Memphis was all, "I am a fucking event horse, even though I have never jumped outside of an arena at a competition!!!!!." So while Memph was exuberantly frolicking (aka bucking) around in excitement, Bobby was alternating walking like a slug and pretending that he could only go uphill if it was at a high rate of speed. No time for jumping. Just running.

I figured since we didn't really have a reason to be schooling 2' logs that day, I would just let him have a run up the hill. Bobby was all prancey pants walking down the hill, threw in a spin for good measure, and turned the corner to wide open space.

And then threw on the brakes. Only once he had stood there for a few seconds did he decide all on his own we could go. Look, Bobby does things on Bobby time.

But I did get it on helmet cam! Obviously there is swearing in this (Obviously because it's just me talking, and every word out of my mouth is foul.). It starts around the one minute marker.

When we were done, S and I marveled at how our white boots were suddenly yellow from rag weed pollen. That's also why I'm sniffing so much in the helmet cam (Sorry!) because I am super allergic to it. Fortunately BO sent J up there to mow when we got back down.

pre-wash boots

And finally, today! We did an early morning dressage school in the indoor, breaking down parts of the three First tests to work through. My biggest frustration at shows is how unfocused I get in warm up for dressage. I send Bobby off at a trot, and the only thing I accomplish is not running into anyone. I don't circle, I don't do any lateral work, I don't shorten my fucking reins because my horse's fucking mile long neck is stretched out in the most basic semblance of "suppleness". Usually Bobby goes right to work at home, so I don't really have a good warm up plan to work through this anyway.

But today he started off just as distracted and tense as he can get when I do nothing but sit there and randomly steer him around. Awesome! Something useful to work on! As long as I put my leg on, his canter work is pretty much a breeze, so I focused solely on the trot at first. Serpentines, lots of changes of directions, trot-three steps walk-trot transitions, trot-halt-rein back-trot.

And wouldn't you know? The pony got connected, got sitting, got lifting up front, and my reins kept creeping shorter and shorter and Bobby's neck came up and rounded. It's like magic when you actually ride.

no dressage ride pictures, so have another trail ride between the ears shot

With such a good warm up, when I asked for harder work, he delivered. Counter canter loops, leg yields, and 10 and 15 meter circles were super. Stretchy trot even rocked. We still need to work on leg yielding off the rail to X, and on 15m circles at A and C, but overall he's feeling pretty great for next weekend's show. Hopefully I can focus during that warm up, too.

One thing we still really, really suck at is the free walk to medium walk transitions. They're marginally better when I don't let my reins out quite so much at the free walk, but he still wants to throw his head once I start shortening the reins. If I take my time and stretch out the process all the way from say M to H, he's fine. But I don't have that much time in a test. We have to be trotting by C. Any suggestions?


  1. If you find the magic secret to the free-medium transition, let me know. We have the same problem. :(

  2. I always love your blog posts, especially when Bobby reminds you that he is a gangster and operates on his own clock for doing things :) I'll have to watch your helmet cam video when I get home, I have a feeling the swearing might be NSFW haha

  3. ohhh bobby lol - i love that look he's givin you in the helmet cam - like 'well idk, it's a big field, are you SURE you wouldn't rather run into the fence???'

    oddly enough - the one thing my dressage trainer thinks we actually have is the free to medium walk transition. it isn't so much that either gait is in and of itself wonderful, but we show a really clear and distinct difference between the two since isabel is such a power walker.

  4. I frequently am amazed by how well my horse goes when I um, ride her. You know, instead of just wasting time waiting for someone else (or the holy spirit) to come down and put her together for me. Whichever comes first.

    As far as the free walk, I always aim to hit the rail a few steps before the letter, so I am straight by whatever letter I need to be medium walking at. That tends to help so I'm not all "hey come together AND turn AND then be straight" within two strides. I also think about collecting her up with my abs and seat before doing anything with my hands, that way she's hopefully light in her mouth and front end by the time I shorten up my reins and brings herself into the contact instead of fighting it. Good luck!

  5. Wow that pollen! Hehehe loved the video. No help on the free walk - curious to know what ends up working for you!

  6. omfg I just practically peed myself laughing over the helmet cam video because that is me. yelling at Simba. to a "t".

  7. Start the picking-up-your-reins process before you hit M. Maybe at the quarter line. Pick up the inside rein first and sponge it to encourage bend/less giraffe. That's all I gots!

  8. I'm with Karen here, they don't have to free walk all the way to the rail. OMG the pollens!

  9. oh wow.. I don't think I could ride through the rag weed in PA without dying. Also your horse is too wild.. and you are dangerously close to 200 followers.. might be time to give you a Liebster award for 2014 before you get disqualified for 200 folloers.

  10. I seriously started sneezing just looking at those boots. WOW that is a lot of pollen!

  11. when you practice your free walk transition at home, do it on a circle every time - it will help prevent him from throwing his head and quiet him down. If you do it enough he will anticipate the circle and allow you to pick up the reins quietly. Another thing to remember is you don't have to let your reins out all the way - you just have to show a difference so you can keep a longer contact but allow him to still stretch out his nose.

  12. I second the suggestion to pick up the inside rein first, and aim for the rail well before the letter. What happens if you just shorten the inside rein all the way (with lots of inside leg to counter) and then ooch up on the outside? Some horse seem to prefer slowly taking up the reins, while others it's just better to get it done and over with. Try All The Things, and see which one works best for Bobby. Good luck!

  13. I cracked up at 1:30 when he gives you that look. What a brat! Gangsta-Bobby is my favorite.

    Got nothing else to support everyone else's advice - We just practiced free to medium until our brains melted of boredom and it was no longer an issue.


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