Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pictures of the ToC night

A few pictures of the ToC night. Quite a few of them were terrible -- me in bad positions, etc. Things to work on, really.

At X, halt, salute.

Good luck charm!

Circle left 20 meters. (Not so submissive, but otherwise okay)

Smile on a long rein

Cute portrait of Reveille

Cute portrait of both of us (ugh, diet!)

Friday, April 9, 2010

After looking at the pictures we got of the tests, I have a few additional thoughts:

OMG I need to lose weight. Like, now. Like, lots.

What the hell is my butt doing so far out of the saddle, and why am I clinging with my heel? There's a spur on that heel, idiot, stop that.

My horse is awfully cute. I can be.

Perfectly satisfactory.

Well. The Test of Choice night went quite well, all things considered. We definitely had some bobbles, and her Submission scores were a deserved 4 on both tests, but we also got lots of 7s and good comments. Helpful comments. I was particularly pleased with the "balanced transition" comments I got through both tests, the 7 on our free walk in Intro A, and the "Well ridden, good patience!" comment on Rider Position and Aids.

We have several things to work on, like her not being so tense, better entry at A, and better use of the arena, but overall -- I'm quite pleased with the outcome of our first tests of the year, first canter departs outside, et cetera.

And there will be pictures. :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

That's a relief.

Well, since the ToC night has moved to Friday, and since we had a really good ride tonight, I think we have a reasonable chance of scoring above 50 on Training 1. ;) I'm deliberately deflating my expectations, of course, but I was quite happy with our ride. We even had more than one right-rein circle with actual right bend! *gasp* I was pleased with her forward, and I ended up getting canter transitions when I wanted them. I also played a little with lengthening and shortening in the canter, which worked. I didn't ride for long -- MT would certainly have made us work much much harder -- but I was still quite pleased. Whew!

Another small thought

I hear so often about people who are driven -- people who, when things don't go well or when they fail at something, they just get back up and try again and again until they succeed and excel.

I'd never really felt that about anything until I started really working with Reveille. Now, like in Saturday's lesson, when things don't go well, I want to try again. Go and go and go until I get it right.

This is a strange, but good, feeling.

Faith restored, I think.

So. We had a lesson on Saturday, and I can't even begin to express how glad I was for it. I didn't ride well, but I learned a lot -- and I have some new things to work on that will help me a lot. I was incredibly grateful for MT's help, not only in riding Rev, but for all the various corrections he gave me. At one point in the lesson, I was really having a crisis of confidence -- this seems to happen to me a lot -- but he pretty much ignored my comment to that effect and we carried on. :) Exactly the best response.

One of the corrections he offered was about leg position and how I was using my spur. I'd been borrowing the working student's spurs, which are about 3/8 of an inch long, maybe 1/2 inch, and I wasn't at all feeling like I was getting any effect from them while I rode. So I ended up with too much work with my leg again, and too much use of not enough spur. I really needed the reminder, and I was immensely grateful for the loan of his own spurs last night. (My boyfriend has said he'd get me my own pair of 1" spurs for Easter -- what a keeper! :) We tried to pick some up last night, but no dice at the FLTS.)

And the other thing he was working on and coaching me through was lengthening and shortening within a gait -- he worked trot and canter, I worked just trot. I didn't do so well, but I get the premise, and I know what it ought to be like/what it's for/why I ought to do it, so I can practice on my own. We worked over some trot poles that were just a tad long for her, to get her to really stretch, and of course shortening and lengthening are important for that.

So last night when I rode, I worked a lot on shortening and lengthening. I was 100% better than I was in the lesson, but I would say it was about 35-40% of where I need to be. I even worked on shortening the canter a bit, and it went reasonably well. I wasn't really focusing on the canter, but at least I did a little. I was much happier with last night's ride than I was with last week's rides, so ... I think I am past the mini-crisis.

Plus, the Test of Choice night has been moved to Friday, so I feel like I've gotten a reprieve, time to keep practicing and recover any ground I'd lost last week. Whew! Now if I can just find a caller for Training 1 ... :)

ALSO -- my new helmet cover came in! Squee! It's bright blue and white and altogether adorable. I can't wait to use it. I'll have pictures soon, I'm sure, since my boyfriend is a wonderful photographer. (I might also have pictures of last night's ride, too, depending on how they came out. Happy!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Playing catchup again.

I think my life's calmed down enough now that I can focus on more than one thing at a time. Annie the dog is still not well, but we're closer than we were, and I'm no longer so stressed I don't know what day it is or what I'm doing. I think I can pick this blogging thing back up now.


Next Wednesday, I'm entered in a little, friendly, casual Test of Choice night. Basically, you pay $10 to ride a dressage test for a judge, just to kind of get a gauge on how you're doing, practice a test that isn't ready for prime-time, practice a test you'll have to perform for real in the near future, work the kinks out of a test, yknow ... whatever. No pressure, no ribbons, no competition. This is really nice, because it forces riders (me) to get out and DO something. Just ... try it.

This time, I'm riding Intro A -- again -- and I've gone ahead and decided to take the step to the next level and try Training 1. This is the perfect forum for me to do that, and up until yesterday's ride, I was pretty damn sure it would go okay.

I have to confess: last week, I didn't ride during the week at all. :/ What with Annie's vet appointments in the middle of the day, I ended up having to work late every day, and when I did get home, I was absolutely wrecked. Stress, lack of sleep, nausea due to stress ... the whole nine yards. I rode on the weekend days, and Reveille was fine. Good, even. I felt like we could go ahead and make that jump to prime-time canter transitions, even if they weren't perfect.

Tuesday, I longed her for about an hour. I'd intended to ride, but when we were working on the line in the side reins, she just seemed to need some intensive work. So that's what we did. We worked on energetic trot, bending to the inside, working over her back, prompt transitions, and generally worked quite intensely. I let her rest on Wednesday, seeing as I had to work late anyway, and then went to ride yesterday.


That was the worst ride I've had in ... weeks? Months? She. Was. TERRIBLE. Flailing her head, fishtailing around, not moving forward, counterbending ... gah. All the things we've been working on and had made so much progress on ... gone.

At one point, I actually got off, put her back on the longe line, and basically pressed the GO button. When I got back on, she was better, but she didn't make it out of the TERRIBLE zone until the end of the ride, when I finally got her moving forward into a good trot and a little bit of canter. I decided I wouldn't be picky about the bend or the head position, as long as she went forward. UGH. I really hope that tonight's ride is significantly better.

Some things I'm going to change are:

* Stretch carefully before I get on. I think I was stiff and tense, and that doesn't make for a good ride.
* Just hop on her, without longing her, tonight. She got enough work last night that I won't be in any danger, and I think getting on without longing sometimes helps a lot.
* Use MT's spurs, as he'd offered to let me do, instead of the working student's pair. His are a bit longer than her Tom Thumb set, and I think that helps.
* Focus hard on a soft, elastic contact.
* Comfortable, relaxed warmup, more than usual -- as much for me as for her.

I think that should help me AND her. I suspect my balance was way off, my weight aids were scrambled ... et cetera. I "talked" to Rev about the ride, apologized for my being all screwy, and asked her to please work with me instead of against me, because it'll be better for both of us. :) Here's hoping she learned the power of human speech overnight. *grin*

I think having her in half training was incredibly beneficial, and I'd like to start it up again in May. (April's out, due to Rolex and the need to be gone for something like two weeks or more) While MT and family are gone, though, I have absolutely got to ride her at least four or five days a week if I want her to progress.

I really want to get to jumping soonSoonSOON ... I don't want to miss out on this first Derby. I'm so. freaking. tired. of doing the ground poles class -- even though we will, if we need to, because the show experience is good for her and me. So I have to keep her together and get myself going. I probably ought to ask MT what exactly I need to do to be ready to start jumping, in his opinion. I'm a little nervous that the answer will be "consistency." Not only the hobgoblin of small minds -- it's the hobgoblin of little bay mare and little chubby girl pairs, too.

We'll see. Meanwhile, excelsior.