Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Communication Error

 Friday I had yet another lesson on Ronnie. Once again, she was frisky and even a bit spooky. She kept looking at a pallet that had recently been put on the side of the arena, spooking at it a couple times and swaying away from it when I didn't keep her looking to inside. As I rode I focused on keeping her focus on what we were doing, not the pallet.

Circle is cut small.
 We had quite of bit of communication error that day. I guess it's just one of those days when I'm not riding at my best. I had trouble mostly with not using my inside leg or calves, and I wasn't able to keep her cantering on a full 20 meter circle, which instead became more like 10 meters. I haven't had this trouble so much with the lesson horses and Chester, who are more chill with the rider not being completely correct because that is how they were trained. I really need to relax my knees so I can use my calf to push her over instead. Otherwise Ronnie becomes frustrated and confused. Any suggestions on how to relax the knee and use the lower leg and seat as support instead? It's the main thing I need to polish up about my riding right now.

 After working and improving a bit with communicating to Ronnie, I began my dressage test. Both of us seemed to be more focused and ready to get down to business. I thought to myself, "I need to try extra hard when doing the test." Ronnie seemed to respond,"Okay got it."
Leaning forward and using too much outside rein.
 The circles were more full and I was able to communicate better with her. The test ran fairly smoothly, except for when she freaked out a bit when I passed Mom, who had moved to another side of the arena to film. Meghan said that Ronnie was probably just using that as an excuse, because before I started the test I had turned Ronnie to show her where Mom was. I continued on. She swayed out a bot when I passed the pallet but didn't do anything naughty. I need to think more about his for my next lesson and what I did differently when things went well.

 I also need to work on relaxing my knee and using the lower leg and seat as support instead, so if you have any suggestions please let me know. Thanks! Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Trot Poles and Canter Transition on Ronnie

Wednesday I rode Ronnie in the jumping arena because the dressage arena had standing puddles of water in it from the recent rain. Ronnie was quite frisky, as horses tend to get when it is cold and rainy, or when the weather changes, but not enough that she was difficult to ride. At one long side of the arena, beyond a line of trees,were dogs and horses that belonged to the neighboring place, so I stuck to the other side. It was only my first time in that arena and Ronnie's second, and Meghan didn't want Ronnie to spook.

 There was one point when Ronnie got nervous about something and broke into trot from the walk, but it wasn't a major spook when the horse jumps up and to the side. I returned to walk, reassured her, and continued on. I walked, then trotted in each direction, being cautious when I changed directions because things can look scarier in the other direction. 

After trotting in both directions, I circled one of the many jumps, which were arranged throughout the arena in a course, and prepared to ask for canter. When I asked for canter, Ronnie leaped into canter, kicking out her hind leg. and squealing. I've seen her do the several times and she has done it to me once or twice before this lesson. Ronnie is sensitive and gets fussy when her rider looks down, shifting her weight forward and possibly even pulling on Ronnie's mouth during the transition,  making it hard to her to balance. This is exactly what I've been doing and is the major part that needs work to polish up my canter. I find myself looking down and leaning forward, just during the transition. I cantered a lot for the next 15 or so minutes of the lesson, taking short trot breaks in between. Ronnie got a bit fast to, and would all out of canter if I half halted too much. 

 To fix my transition, Meghan had me sit the trot, circling a cross rail on the far end of the arena. As I sat several times around, I had to use my muscles to hold myself in the saddle so I didn't bounce around,and amazing, when I sat the trot into the canter, the transition was much better and my position as well. While cantering, I also had to use more inside, another thing I have to work on. I have to push Ronnie out with my inside leg, not the outside rein, not letting her lean on my leg instead. 
Trot poles

 After my successful transition, I worked on trot poles. I tend to look down at trot poles just as I pass over then. The two trot poles were parallel to the long side of the arena, so I would have to head into the half near to the dogs, heading straight to the round pen with the barn on my right(remember the dressage arena is to the left if you're facing the barn). I started by tracking left and heading over the trot poles, always from the same side whether I turned left or right to get to them. The first several times, Ronnie hopped over them. After going over it multiple times, Meghan told me to look at the trailer in front of the dressage arena and tell her whether it had a vent or not so I could keep my eyes up. She had done a similar thing when I was jumping at Silver Rose. This time around went smoothly. When I had something to focus on, I didn't glance down at the last moment. I went over the poles quite a few times, changing directions regularly, and finally ending once I got a few good ones in a row. 

 I had a good lesson and it was nice to try trot poles again. I am going to be riding Ronnie two days a week for now. Her owner is being very generous because I'm not leasing her,; she just lets me ride Ronnie. Also, check out this giveaway and win a saddle! Click these two(contest,contest) as well because you have enter at each day. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lessoning on Ronnie!(Pontential Lease/Own)

  This past summer, Meghan had me ride Ronnie, a bay Belgian/TB mare, several times, though I had primarily been riding Chester. Ronnie is a nice mare, levelheaded, and has dressage training through Second Level(has been schooled in some Third Level with Meghan). Each time I've ridden her, I have enjoyed her and have become even more comfortable on her too. Ronnie has been to many dressage shows with her owner, Ann.

 Monday, Megan put me on Ronnie another time. This is only the fourth time I've ridden her, but I felt like I did well. As I rode, I focused on making her round, going through the corners, and keeping me arms and body soft and relaxed, the latter which is something I tend to have trouble with at the canter.

 I put Ronnie on a 20 meter trot circle at B so I could prepare for canter, but I had to work on the circle multiple times because I had trouble making the circle round enough. To fix this, I needed to use more inside leg to push her out, rather than using the outside rein, which should be supporting. Once I had everything worked out, I put my leg back and asked for canter, riding around the circle multiple times. I found myself bracing and not relaxing my body, which made my hands less soft.
A heart clipped on her haunches. 
 The next time cantering, after more trot circles, I took a deep breath and relaxed my body. It was amazing how much better my canter was, and the ones after when I did the same thing. Ronnie is a really nice horse and I feel very confident on her. Her transitions are very smooth as well.
This one and the ones after are from Wednesday. Look at her cute face!

 After cantering on a circle both ways, I cantered straight down the arena, then began learning one of the new 2015 dressage tests, Training Level Test 1.  The test is pretty simple: A down centerline, X halt salute. C track left, 20 meter circle at E. At A, make another 20 meter circle, cantering in the first corner, which is between A and F, continuing on the circle and down the long side with the trot after B. C is the medium walk all down to E, with a short diagonal in free walk to F. At A is the trot, at E a circle right, at C another 20 meter circle right, with the right lead canter in between C and M. Trot at B, then up centerline once at A.
On the bit, and my position is pretty good. I just need to keep my elbows bent and my leg needs to go a teensy bit back.

 In that test, the judges look for a horse that is supple, moving freely in steady tempo and clear rhythm and accepting contact with the bit.  I'm happy to say the test went well and met all that criteria, except accepting contact with the bit still needs more practice on my part. Meghan says it was show quality!

 Wednesday I rode her again. I had another great ride and have really been making progress. I feel comfortable and confident on her, which is good, and enjoy riding her. Throughout my lesson, I continued to ask Ronnie to become to round, which is difficult, but I was able to get her on the bit multiple times throughout the lesson, managing to hold it for longer amounts.

Happy horse!
 I still had difficulty using enough inside leg to keep Ronnie at all the points on the 20 meter circles, so I worked on this a lot. When you do dressage, my trainer said, the reins are for connecting the horse on the bit, not steering. I especially needed to remember this for the canter transition on the circle. Ronnie is sensitive, so I needed to use more inside leg rather than outside leg in the canter so she doesn't get confused.

 Once I had done a lot of walking, trotting, and cantering in both directions and had worked on getting Ronnie on the bit, I rode the Training Level Test 1 through twice. Besides the fact that I wasn't using enough inside leg for the canter circle at C, I felt it went really well. I was able to get her on the bit and she was relaxed and moving in a consistent tempo.
Cantering! California winters can be grey and chilly.

 I had two really great lessons on Ronnie. Ronnie's owner has been serious about finding a home for  her and has offered her to me for a great deal that includes all the equipment and is half of what she is worth, but I still need to talk with my parents. They are not quite sure their ready to make the investment. However, I might, might be able to full lease her until May and then my parents will make a decision. I'm all for having Ronnie. I love Ronnie, enjoy riding her, and Meghan believes she is a great match for me. Ronnie performs very well when I ride her and because she is young(about 13) and already has been schooled through Third Level by Meghan, I can move up the levels with her and hopefully even qualify for the junior state championships in 2015! As I said we have reached no decisions yet, but I will keep the blog posted!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

More on Getting Moe on the Bit

 I had a nice ride Friday, even though Moe started out by being nervous to pass a small dog. To remedy this, Meghan had me ride only in the far half of the arena, turning at E or B, depending on which way I was going, rather than by the dog. As Moe got calmer and I began to grip with my calves, pushing her forwards and putting her on the bit, I began to turn closer to that end, finally using the whole arena.
This one is nice!

 For a lot of the lesson, I worked on putting her on the bit as I rode,  making her go forward enough to do so. She wasn't as speedy as she often is, so I had to push her forward into the connection. I also had to work on holding the outside rein so that her head wouldn't go to the inside when I squeezed the inside rein. Once my position is in order, Moe is forward, and I'm hold enough outside rein, I am able to get her to look quite nice, though it takes a lot of work. I was able to get her to come round for short parts of the lesson, and even kept her on the bit once around the arena and across a diagonal.

 My canter is coming along nicely, too. I have more control and can keep Moe in a nice, collected canter while on the bit for a lot of the time. I cantered her down the long side of the arena, making a half circle at B to head back to C, where I had asked for the canter depart.  After doing this several times with trot in between, I asked for the left lead canter on the circle. Moe didn't give it after a few tries, so I worked on something else.

 I went up centerline, tracking right, then making a diagonal at K. Then at E, I made a half 10 meter circle to centerline, leg yielding to M. I made another diagonal and did a couple more half 10 meter circles, diagonals, and leg yields. I didn't manage to get Moe straight in the leg yield at first, but I straightened her. Meghan had created this test using some First Level movements so I could practice them.

 Another one I did went like this: I trotted up centerline, which I had to do twice because I hadn't put Moe on the bit, but once I had gone successfully up centerline, on the bit, I tracked left, making a 20 meter circle at E. Then, at A, I asked for canter left, making sure my leg was back s Moe would pick up the correct lead. She did, and I made a diagonal at H, trotting at X. I did the same thing the other after a free walk.

I love the angle of this one.
 After I had put Moe away, I helped Meghan clean paddocks, then went home. I had a productive lesson, though I still need to work on keeping my toes straight and calves on. A lot of other parts, including controlling the canter and putting the horse on the bit are coming together.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Be Soft

 Moe was much more calmer for this lesson. In fact, I had to push her so she would be going forward enough to get on the bit, something I worked with a lot this lesson. I worked both on a circle and on the straight, in both directions. Even though Moe was calmer, I still had trouble getting her on the bit. She wanted to put her head up in the air, but I continued asking her to lower her and become round. It can be difficult to push the horse forward, while still thinking about having outside connection and inside flexion, using your inside leg to keep her on the circle. When I softened my aids a lot more, gently alternating which rein I squeezed, I was able to get her to become round for a few moments. I patted her, praised her, I stopped asking until she raised her head again.
Canter left.

 Another thing I did was ride down the long side at the walk, halting at each letter. While halted, I gently squeezed the inside rein to get her to drop her head. Then, I would gently squeeze her with calves, using primarily my voice to get her walk on, stopping when I reached the next letter and repeating.
Walking on a shortened rein to get her on the bit.

 When I returned to trot, Moe was much more responsive and willing. I made a 20 meter circle to the right, and asked for canter. Moe picked up the left lead instead, but Meghan said to use that opportunity to make a short diagonal to E, then a half circle to change directions. I half halted to keep her at a comfortable pace, because now that we were cantering. Moe was becoming her usual energetic self. Moe ended up returning to trot when I momentarily lost my balance. I asked for canter, then made another short diagonal to canter right.
Part of my nice, calm canter.

 It was when I cantered to the right on circle that I did really well. I focused on sitting up straight and deep in the saddle, keeping my calves on and outside leg back, and on half halting the outside rein while squeezing the inside rein to keep her on the circle. It felt amazing! Moe was in a smooth, collected canter that was neither fast or slow. Meghan said I looked very good! However, as I focused on keeping my position correct and aids effective, the geometry of me circle began to slack. I pushed Moe out to the correct parts, and once I had made an entire correct circle, I returned to trot.

 The lesson felt very productive, despite the fact that Moe wasn't as easy to get on the bit as she often is. I just need to focus on gripping with calves more, softening my elbows, and keeping my toes straight. My left foot seems to always point slightly out, so I need to practicing refining my position and keeping my feet straight without letting the rest of my position slip.