Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
a game of two halves
One thing I noticed is the amount of movement he now has in his back, I am now using some sitting trot to help me connect to the hind legs a little more and don't believe a word when they say Iberians are easy to sit because they have little movement in their back....that is certainly not the case with Moo!
must be more careful...
Saturday was quiet, Lydia off out hacking at the club but aside from that a day in the field for the boys. Yesterday I had a good lunge session with Moo (his trot is really finding a lift that I never even hoped for) and Lydia and Cacahuéte had fun learning to lunge. It's amazing how kids just pick things up so quickly, her body language skills were better than lots of adults right from the start. Very proud of her and that poney.
Yes Di, I will sort some video out, need to get to grips with what it's all about too. As usual Baucher really doesn't give a great 'how too' and Hotte says some conflicting things in his book.
Friday, March 27, 2009
all in together, never mind the weather
Having played with the idea of l'effet d'ensemble (the antithesis of leg without hand, hand without leg) yesterday I decided that today I would play some more. Theoretically it is the idea of bringing the hindquarters underneath, nearer to the centre of gravity by gentle urging with the spur. The hand doesn't *give* the horse effectively renders itself (ramener) by relaxing at the poll and thus the horse balances between hand and leg. Baucher advocates this for hot horses who need steadying but equally for dull horses who need lightening. To begin with, in halt, the spur is pressed lightly but then progressively increased until the horse takes his balance back and releases the forehand to be light and available.
OK so I have a slight problem in that I don't wish to train with spurs. My horse is extremely light and needs so little to urge him forwards that I don't see the point. Ah yes, the spur theoretically enables the rider to use a lighter and more precise aid... well I'll just have to be guided by my horse and if at some time in the future it is better for him then fine but at the moment I don't feel we are ready.
I do have a slight problem with the effet d'ensemble as perhaps it may teach a horse to be less reactive to the leg, however, in the case of Moo that is exactly what I'm after, less reaction to the leg.
So, less theory, more practice and back to today's work. From walk I asked halt by closing my lower fingers on the reins, at the same time moving some weight into the stirrups and breathing my legs away. In the next split second (as quickly as my human coordination could do it) I renewed my ask for the halt with my hand staying closed (but no more take) and the legs wrapping around the horse (staying long around him) and then *pulsed* this long wrapped leg feeling until I felt the poll and jaw soften and chew as in the jaw flexions. After the initial confusion (he offered to rein back) he stood calmly and came to my hand with his back up and round, it was a great feeling. We then walked on and he was *into* the rein and after a stride or so I released the lower finger contact and he stayed up to my hand.
I'm going to need to work more on this but my initial thoughts are that for a hot horse, not offering to come to the contact without curling back then this may be an answer...perhaps, I'll let you know!!
It goes without saying that Moo played the game (I swear he laughs at me) in true style and so we cut short schooling and pootled up the lane, only a *quickie* as it had started to drizzle and I don't *do* rain.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
more Moo work
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
AIDS the substance (part 2.b)
This morning I lunged Moo, first let me say how darned proud I am of my boy, he is finally growing up. Moo managed to walk down to the school calm and quiet in spite of Fugly running around and calling, he also lunged sensibly and listened at least 90% of the time (thank goodness for clicker training) and went back up to the yard without a hitch.
Whilst lunging I realised how much white noise I give off, extra little noises to urge him forwards or slow him down, inadvertent movements of a hand or the whip. Gawd I'm like some kid who can't be controlled, lol, so how the heck do I expect him to pick out the important bits? I tried very hard from then on to just give commands, whip up to go, rein hand up to stop, step to the shoulder to turn on the forehand etc etc I could use just body language or just voice to make him stop and go so why use both at the same time?
After a couple of days off work due to Fugly's arrival (he is much calmer now) I was so happy to be back to work, my horses keep me sane (ish).
Monday, March 23, 2009
AIDS the substance (part 2) stop/start
Part of the reason that I'm writing all this is to clear my own mind, I think I know what I do when I'm riding but until I start to break it down then I can't be certain. To stop I use my hands, to go I use my legs. Always (at the beginning) separately and always aiming to get them to be the smallest/lightest possible to get a reaction. I recently read a lesson report from a friend and her trainer had suggested she ask very quietly the first time but to build it to *asking like you have PMT*, lol, but that's the rub isn't it? It's no good going through twenty different levels of asking, it has to be first discretely aided and then loudly but always being certain not to have even the tiniest opposing aid in place. What I mean by that is when you ask forwards in the early stages then you must never block with the hand, the horse must always sense that he can go forwards. Likewise when we aid for halt we must remove any thought of a driving leg. Later these two fundamental aids of hand and leg can be *played* together but not (for me) in these early stages.
Of course this work will have commenced, dismounted, at liberty, in-hand, on the lunge etc already with Chapiro I use the whip or my hand at the *g* spot where I will later use my leg and so it won't come as any surprise when this continues into his ridden work. On the ground we can use body language but this becomes pretty obsolete when we climb aboard, however it must be very important in building a trusting bond between horse and trainer.
In recent years I have *played* with the idea of clicker training, it doesn't change the methods but it offers a really accurate reward system and enables you, with some horses, to advance more quickly and avoid the *PMT* phase of aiding.
There is so much to say on this subject I think it will be rather a long project. Tomorrow perhaps I'll be able to talk about how I use my legs and hands, better ride and take some notes!!
Can anyone else recommend a good writer on stopping and starting? Think I may have to get a book list on here.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
My neighbour who would appear to have no sound horse knowledge (bought a saddle in Bogota and then had to buy a horse to go with it) moved lone horse in yesterday. Aside from stressing mine out (they'll get over it) the poor bugger ran around his field all evening, all night and yes all morning. They live about 12km away and it's a second home, yes I know bizare, so they didn't turn up until 2.00pm this afternoon, by which time he is hopping lame.
10 minutes after they arrive he's tacked up and coming past our gate. Hey I say, did you notice he's hopping lame, no says the son as he dismounts and we have a feel of the legs. The poor horse (ex race, galopeur) has the most horrific feet, overgrown and splitting and it looks pretty obvious that he's done his tendon. The son can't feel the huge swelling but he did notice when pointed out that he was resting his front toe to give his tendon some relief. I recommended rest (they have no stables) and the vet but I doubt they will. I just wish I couldn't see him across the fence, we've christened him Fugly for obvious reasons but he seems a sweetie.
Sorry to moan, wanted to say lots about aids tonight but unless the steam flow from my ears dies down it may have to wait.
Spare a thought for Fugly tonight please.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
AIDS the substance (part 1)
I hope that I may get some feedback to help me direct my thoughts but until then I'll make a start on my own.
In the Aids ramble pieces I touched on Podjasky's advice regarding aids and for me the following is burned into my brain **The rider must have an exact understanding of his aids and their effect, and must make use of them intelligently; he must not allow himself to be influenced by his feelings.** So we are scientists first and artists second. We can dream of dancing in harmony with our horses but it only works if we understand the how, why and when, the basic mechanics of movement. I am sure that there are some who will disagree with that last statement but for me it encompasses training, art based on sound science. Just like a great chef only develops his *art* after he understands the science of how food works.
I recall reading Udo Berger's book The Way to perfect Horsemanship the first time and how absorbing I found the chapter on biomechanics. Here, for the first time I could work out, scientifically, why exercises worked. Of course, nowadays there is a wealth of books on the subject and lectures/ demonstrations to attend. Now we can all be amateur scientists and train our horses through science with an artistic heart.
There are so many good authors that discuss the aids and their effects and I hope to draw on their sound knowledge whilst looking at it from the perspective of a middle aged woman struggling to accept the boundaries of her broken body.
I shall begin the next installment by discussing the importance of the fundamental aids used to move our horse forwards and to stop him. The cornerstones of any system of control.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Skating on thin ice
Today was a *family* day and we ice skated and then wandered along the banks of the Vienne in Limoges watching the deeply intent boules players and stopping to drink small cups of strong coffee.....The horses had time off and Moralejo was the latest victim of my camera testing!!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Walking on sunshine
Whooo hoooo!! We cantered, we cantered yay!!
Moralejo was so good (wish I was a clever as him) lunged first which is something I stopped doing because it just got his beans all shook up but today he went straight out on to a circle and stretched down in walk, then in trot. He was really cool and calm and the trot is starting to look like a proper trot, lol.
Got on whilst he stood perfectly (he does this pretty much always now) and the walk was contained but still expressive. We did lots of lateral work and then on to trot which was again pretty contained for him, everytime we lost the balance I lifted the reins (or sometimes just one) and made him take responsability for himself again. We worked on walk/trot/walk transitions which need LOTS of work but it's going to come good, I know. Then lots of direction changes in trot, large circles, small circles figures of 8 and anything that avoided being stuck on the track. It helped also to sit to the wrong diagonal in the trot and then swop backwards and forwards between correct and not to keep the inside hind leg straight.
Negatives at this point; he gets heavy through transitions around trot and is slightly over cooking the flexion (horizontally) but you can't have it all straight away I suppose.
Then towards the end we were having a stretch down in trot and I asked him back up into a shorter frame and hey, it felt just like it should be a canter transition so we did.
Hallelujah.... the boy can canter and so that's why I'm walking on sunshine (oh and it is gloriously sunny and about 20 again).
Sunday, March 15, 2009
It was probably the most perfect day in terms of weather; sun, gentle breeze......ahhhh. Got motivated early and lunged Moo first thing and he was really good. No *beans* just calm and forwards when asked, lovely canter transitions and calmly back into a stretch down in trot afterwards. We worked quite hard and even on a mild morning (with a coat still nowhere near fully shed) we didn't raise a sweat, so he's definitely getting fitter.
Lunch in the garden, afternoon spent mowing and levelling the school.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Modest, humble, opinionated
Friday, March 13, 2009
For the first time since he's been back in work we stayed in trot for over 10 minutes!! Usually he just gets more and more stressed and eventually we have to walk to get back to some balance but today we broke the barrier, YAY.
We worked on some reverse shoulder-in, shoulder-in, leg yield and shortening/lengthening within the trot and he just got on with it. We even had a stretchy trot like we get on the lunge and he was really working his back. OK, he was probably a teensy bit curled back but honestly this is the first time I've managed to *move* him in the trot and get a good response so I'll take what I get for now. Yesterday we had a lovely play up the hills, trotting up and walking down and saying a hearty *bonjour* to the villagers in their potagers planting up their perfect rows of veggies....the joy of spring.
Oh and almost forgot, I had a lovely time working with Estelle and Tosca, he really is a super little horse. Also found time to get to the nursery and buy a number of shrubs for the garden, so next week I'll be busy again!!
Looking forward to a nice glass of fizz this evening (been on reduced rations this week!!) and a catch up with everyone else's blog. Maybe I'll start my next ramble.....
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
****Join us and help petition the F.E.I. that all dressage competitions should only be shown with the horse wearing a cavesson with two finger width between the horse's face and the cavesson, both in the show ring and in the warm up ring. This rule has been a standard for generations of horsemen and accepted as being the best for the horse. This rule/standard was so accepted around the world by every teacher and rider - that it was never even written down. Now we see training practices that include crank nosebands and rollkur. Training practices that are physically, emotionally and mentally detrimental to the horse. A return to this simple rule, that will be easy to teach and enforce, can make a huge difference for horses not only for those in the show ring but for all of the horses, whose riders and teachers use those horses in competition as their standard of correct training. Please sign today and share this with all equestrians that you know, and together perhaps we can make a difference***
Monday, March 9, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
But..aside from lack of sleep and having to be a proper mum (I'm so crap at that) I had a good day.
Bought myself some new long reins a short while back, lovely corded section to pass through the *D* rings on the surcingle, in preparation for starting Chapiro. So today I tried them out on Moo :-) It's a long time since I worked him in long reins and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he went. Worked on a circle, spiralling it in/out and then got *behind* him to do some lateral work. Counter shoulder-in and leg yield along the fence (to be fair the easiest of the lateral stuff) and he was very obliging. Then I had a *moment* and decided to take the outer rein off and work from the inside rein (we are only in a cavesson with the long reins attached to it) passed through the *D* ring on the surcingle. My goodness what a trot we had, I kept him out on the circle with the whip and my body but used the rein to ask him to bend. Asked him *down* with voice and he was happy to stretch down and use his back.
Probably just that I've been bereft of neddie work for two days but it felt so good.
Off to read some Sylvia Stanier and Dietz to refresh my aging memory on long reining, lol. After my back op 10 years ago I had hours of lessons in ground work, just need to spring clean the memory, I hope!!
Just getting to grips with it but so far very pleased. No great horse news as Lydia was off school yesterday with a tummy bug and today will miss her voltige course at the riding club, needless to say she's rather miffed.
Just a shot of Chapiro who, aside from pony chasing, is prooving to be a balanced 3 year old and a bee on a crocus in the garden.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Being Wednesday, Lydia was at home and so the pone got a bareback workout *rolls eyes heavenwards* and seems to have come to some agreement regarding rein back, lol.
Moralejo worked really nicely in-hand but I'm having to be imaginative to get him to work his near hind and really step over in the lateral work but it is slowly improving. Did a little more trot in-hand and it just goes to show that even if an aid is well known (on the lunge I use the verbal *trot* plus a lift of the end of the whip) if it's applied in the wrong context then it might still be misunderstood. He looks at me as if to say *what me trot whilst you just creep along in walk, you're 'avin a laugh* but he did *get* it and so we clicked and finished.
Chapiro continued to be good on the lunge and we worked on some *free* work which he really seems to enjoy.
Hope it's fine tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Tonight Lydia whipped up eggs, fresh from Di's dove grey chooks, and we made *kitchen sink* omelette with fat home cut chips and great dollops of ketchup *sigh* end to a perfect day.
Gorgeous eggs, thanks Di.
Finally ordered the new camera so I'm looking forward to posting more 'pics again soon.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Aids the final (for now) part
I don't think it's hard to agree that aids should be for and with the horse, as small and light as possible...imperceptible to the onlooker. It's easy to agree too that we must work with the physiology of the horse, creating individual recipes for each horse. Of course my preference is for a lighter, brighter type but that (as I'm daily reminded) comes at a price. I loved what Carl Hester described as *discrete* aids being needed for the hotter horse and that is exactly how one feels riding these types; eat sand if you want to be anything less than discrete.
I touched before on the idea that the horse and rider could communicate without words, a kind of ESP. Paul Belasik is a real *thinking* trainer/writer and I'll finish for now with where I hope the whole system of aids can end up.
From Paul Belasik, Dressage for the 21st Century....
After years of training and repetition, the horse and rider are sensitive to each other's muscular pulses. For the rider, there is no need for thrusting gestures of the pelvis. The physical training of the dressage rider is athletic but suggestive, not forced. Although the practice of dressage is beautiful to watch, in a real sense, it is not for watching. If it is proceeding correctly it is too subtle for the observer to see anything change on a given day. Usually it is just practice. The rider seems to be in the same position day after day but the horse is magically being sculpted.
In fact there is a physical melding; rider and horse do gradually become one. There is also a psychological melding, which is all to often glossed over. Riders become fitted with a 'twin' that gives them literally superhuman strength and speed......When they undertake the study of dressage and position, I don't think many riders realise what is about to unfold-or what they are going to have to face.
Aids are therefore our 'way in' to this incredible world where horse and rider become one, unable to see where one starts and the other finishes. Our aids will become so subtle as to be imperceptible, perhaps they become just thought exchanges or perhaps just that we become adept at knowing when it's going to go wrong and acting rather than reacting.
Today I applied my brain and stopped riding like a dummy and he was much better. I used lots of lateral work in the walk, his leg yield across the school is really getting there now. To prepare for the trot I rode square serpentines across the short side (ie small!!) just from my thighs and weight. Then trot transition and ride a large circle keeping my rising really slow and defining. Transition to walk and change rein to ride the exercise on the other rein. Really found his hind legs through the square work and this seemed to help him balance through the transition to trot.
Saddle was great :-)
Spring is on it's way....first daffs came out yesterday and we have a great tit doing some diy in the tit box.....