Sunday, 27 December 2009


Well I have been practising things since the video and feel I still collapse a bit in the midsection which is causing the tipping feeling. I do think the hip alignment is not bad - as Valerie pointed out I dont want to end up behind the movement - so I have concentrated on opening the chest, softening the elbow, and LOOKING UP!! It does **feel** better but I hope to get some more video to SEE what it looks like ;-)

I also got some nice results with the rising trot today by injecting more energy into it - I cant really explain what I did because I wasnt making the rising bigger or smaller but just had more 'positive tension' in my body tone somehow and Antsje respoded with some nice springy steps :-)

I also hope I have got the postioning correct with the travers now - but that i'll have to judge off the video ;-)

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

WE HAVE VIDEO!!! hehehe!

So, finally got Amy to take some video of us both today - I think we have made improvements this year although I STILL need to SIT UP!!!! and also the angle in travers is way too steep but thats what video is for! My sitting trot is still woeful I rode my sisters horse tonight and was able to sit nice and tall and relaxed but I still cant get it on Antsje! Im afraid of it I reckon!!! I tense up and I BOING everywhere! plus...................I NEED TO SIT UP!!!!

First few vids are of trot and canter on both reins, then the last one is collecting and lengthening the trot with Antsje staying with me! you can see she'd rather canter! I can see on the serpentine video I am blocking her with the inside rein on the right - she still gets a bit jittery after canter work - but NO excuse for overiding the inside rein! NAUGHTY ME! But would be glad to hear what you all think............. ps - the abrubt halts after canter are a result of a 'click' and treat - not cos I yanked her head orf!!

Friday, 18 December 2009



Another morning ride! Because I don’t have as much time in the mornings it does have the benefit of focusing my mind and not getting greedy and overdoing things when they feel good!!
I didn’t do so much work laterally today other than setting the trot up with the travers steps which work very nicely. I did lots of changes of reins, transitions and serpentines and concentrated on keeping us both in a nice balance throughout all the exercises. I am thrilled with Antsjes attitude to work lately – she tries so hard!
The lateral work in trot will really help the canter work as she has to balance herself while stepping under more with her hindleg. So today I thought id do a bit of canter work for a change! After speaking to Mike about the canter he said think about making the circle smaller by turning her with the outside rein and pushing her back out with the inside leg so I really get that inside leg to outside hand connection. So today I tried a couple of more like 10-15m canter circles and tickled her with the schooling whip to encourage the hind leg activity and lo and behold we got some really lovely lift to the canter with her STILL reaching into the contact!! WOOOHOOOO!!! And this was on the RIGHT rein!!! I changed rein and asked for the same exercise and she did such a beautiful ‘step’ up into canter and some very nice slow yet lifted canter strides that I just clicked my tongue and jumped off and made such a big fuss of her and fed her her favourite extra strong mints hahahaha!!!!


A similar combination of work to the last sessions
Travers steps to set up the trot. Counter canter down the long side, working up to maintaining position up the centre line. She was working so nicely that I got brave and asked for a few steps of travers in trot!!! And bless her she did try!! She moved her quarters out but struggled to maintain the inside bend for more than a few steps and it ended up more like a leg yield hahaha!! BUT! I was very pleased with the effort as I know she would find this hard.
We did a little bit of canter work but she was a little gung-ho and when coming back to down to trot we lost the nice stable connection in the contact with her being very busy in the mouth and not seeking the contact but bobbing her head in and out of my hands. I was just starting to feel that bubble of frustration on why she was being so unsettled that I just suddenly realised that she was ‘setting sail’ and out of balance completely!! So I put her on a smaller circle and just concentrated on working on the ‘neutral’ trot and hey presto!! Connection restored!! I clicked, treated and left it at that.
Hacking for the weekend – she has worked hard this last few weeks!

Monday 14th December

Quick morning ride this morning – I think both of us were feeling it a bit from yesterday! I was struggling with the sitting trot as I felt stiff and Antsje was struggling with maintain the neutral trot as no doubt she was a little tired too!
So I just worked on a large circle getting Antsje to slow up the trot by listening to my seat and slowing the rising, then asking her to lengthen into a larger trot, then come back to me again from the seat. Once she had done this a couple of times on each rein I called it a day and made a big fuss of her.

Sunday 13th December - Mike Lesson!!!

What a great day! I have so missed having a lesson but I was also relieved that Mike didn’t pick up on anything horrendously wrong while I have been left to my own devices lol!!

So after working in, Mike got me thinking about engaging the HQ’s more by doing some lateral work. First ShoulerIN in walk down the long side – I AM working at too steep an angle and once corrected the lateral work flowed much better **grins** We then did some shoulder In down the centre line which was a good test for both horse and rider to maintain position.
We then did a small circle and did a few steps of travers up the long side which really is the exercise to get Antsje in a more collected frame. After a few steps of travers Mike asked me to step up into a sitting trot and we worked on getting and maintaining what Mike called a ‘neutral’ trot. Which means neither ‘setting sail’ (antsje's speciality) or being too collected but concentrating on everything being in balance, the hindlegs really stepping through and for her to be soft in my hand and held with the seat. It was bloody hard work I tell you for my poor abs working in sitting trot for most of the lesson lol!!! At times it felt awful, but at times it felt just AMAZING!!!

We then started to do some lateral work in trot – I was struggling a bit with SI, so Mike got me to work in counter shoulder in, using the fence to give both me and antsje some guidance. This worked REALLY well, and once we both got the feel of it, we turned up the centre line in counter shoulder in and was able to keep position!! So naturally we then progressed to Shoulder in down the long side and it worked MUCH better!! We got some really excellent walk / trot / walk transitions too as Antsje was really off my leg and listening and trying so hard bless her **smile**

So what did I take away from this lesson?

*Travers is the best exercise for Antsje to get her to step under and shorten her frame
*Go into sitting trot and hold the neutral trot with the seat keeping the hands soft but supportive.
*Think of my lower leg being a little further forwards and sitting on my seatbones in sitting trot as I have a tendancy to collapse forwards with my lower leg sliding too far back. Grrrrrrr!!!! *NOT a chair seat though! It’s the thought more than anything to help me sit UP!
*Work in counter shoulder in first as the fence helps maintain the position until we both get the ‘feel’
*Keep the counter shoulder in position around the turn of the short side and up the centre line to really get Antsje to step under
*Rise down the long side in a slightly bigger trot, sit and collect the trot around the short side – rinse and repeat!!

Thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed the lesson although I was bloody knackered at the finish!! I need to do more work in the sitting trot and build up my ABS!!!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Animation V Relaxation......

Another wonderful ride!!
I am hoping to get some video on Sunday – I am sooooo curious to see how it LOOKS. She feels wonderful, but without proper guidance for so long I am worried I have got into all sorts of problems and false feelings.

I am learning that Antsje has to be kept sensitised otherwise she can get a little ‘dull’ to the aids. By that I don’t mean she is lazy as such because she will always move off the leg – but it’s the reaction time that tends to get slower if you are not mindful of it. So rather than her take 3-4 steps before she trots after a leg aid, Iwant it to be NOW! Snappy! Immediate!
If she doesn’t go off the leg straight away, I bring her back to walk, get her listening and energised my whacking my boot with the whip and making SWISHY noises lol!! Then, when I feel she is stepping through better I then ask for the transition again. I also combine click & Treat with this and get some very good results – she is very enthusiastic hahahaha!!! Working on transitions really helps to get her listening and energetic. I also added in a few reinback to walk and reinback to trot transitions in too - this really helped with getting her to step under under more and increase the energy in the trot.

Once we have this ‘energy’ then I started to work on circles asking her to bend around the inside leg and not hanging on the inside rein (BOTH of us!!) I / We find this harder on the right rein, where I have to really be mindfull about that inside rein!! And also keeping the connection with the outside as I tend to let that go when I give the inside rein lol lol! So I think, elbow to hip – inside leg pressing her into the outside rein, outside rein to regulate and if necessary against the neck to turn. If all else fails, both reins into outside hand, ride a smaller circle and activate the inside hind with the whip held in the inside hand.

When we get it, it feels Gooooooood! And we are getting it quicker and more consistently lately. To really help this inside to outside connection I start to add in some leg yielding. First spiralling down to a small circle, then spiralling back out again. Then coming down the ¾ line and leg yielding back to the track. I always do a few strides straight first though as Antsje is the Queen of anticipation and we end up snaking back to the track before we have even finished the turn properly!!

We really do seem to have got the ‘relaxation’ needed for Antsje to seek the contact but now we have that, I am aware we need to add some ‘energy’ back into it as it is a little lapsidaisical at times – it looks great, but I know she isn’t using herself as much as she could. It is a fine line between animating her to get the energy and loosing the relaxation all together and we get the sucking back with the neck and tight back. So a good way I found last night of achieving this was getting a nice swinging trot and then by using my seat and clucking my tongue really collect the trot up as much as I could before breaking into walk, then by relaxing my position and giving the reins slightly get her to lengthen the trot back out again. The first few goes we collapsed into walk a couple of times but once she had got the idea we got some NICE trot, one improving the other as we kept a 20m circle.

I was pleased that after 2 sticky sessions with the leg yielding something has clicked in her head and she is getting the idea much better now. This is something Ive noticed with Antsje, you can have a really ‘UGLY’ session learning something new, but give her time to think she comes back the next time understanding it! What she lack in talent, she makes up for in attitude. She is SUCH a trier – and this is something that has helped my training with her this year. I came to the conclusion that Antsje ISNT awkward or lazy or dull – if she isn’t getting something then I am not explaining it correctly or in a way she can understand!! Clicker has helped immensely for conveying my ideas to her in a positive way. It has been a major breakthrough in ME containing my frustrations when something isnt going to plan. Now I try and look at it unemotionally and detached and ask as Erik Herbermann would say – How can I help my horse???I don’t ALWAYS succeed but by god im getting so much better and so is my training skills and I hope so is my riding and my horse!

ps - We have also been doing a lot of poll release work off the horse. Massage, flexions, giravolta work - all have helped to free up this area which Antsje has always been naturally protective of. I have also put the noseband OVER the headstall in the fashion of a 'comfort bridle' as she kept seeming to be sore in this area when I have been doing the massage. Since one particularly effective massage session and the bridle change she seems even better through the poll. Not sure which one or if both has helped but the change ridden has been notable :-)

pps - I wrote this up in Word to spell check and the suggested spelling for 'Herbermann' was HORSEMAN!! Isnt that delightful!!! lol!

Monday, 7 December 2009

All Change....................

Here we go again!!! lol!
Yesterday Antsje was on the move again…………….back to my sisters yard! It will be good for several reasons, Antsje gets to be turned out in company again, I get to spend time with my sister (YAY!) Its more of a community as it’s a smaller yard therefore help is on hand for all manner of things and finally there is a pony ‘spare’ that Amy will be able to ride when she wants a horse fix and hopefully we can do the odd hack out now and again which I miss terribly and of course it is more economical financially with being cheaper livery and closer to home. So although I have had to give up the indoor school and onsite competitions I think I gain a great deal too.

I tried out the new ménage yesterday and it is FAB!! Considering how much rain we have had it was a little ‘squelchy’ but no water laying anywhere and not at all heavy going so really impressed!!! Antsje thought it was fab too and she felt extra ‘boingy’ underfoot – GREAT!!! ***rolls eyes*** lol!
Also rode this morning producing more nice work. The last few sessions I am really working on her being OFF my inside leg and neither of us hanging onto the inside rein. One handed riding is just so useful for this and we can do this well in trot now with Antsje moving off my inside leg, softening to the inside and reaching for the contact.

I am also playing with lateral work in trot too. She is finding this more hard work as she has to really activate her hind leg more to move herself over in alignment. She tends to run through the shoulders and trail the HQ’s – particularly on the right rein.
She finds it easier to spiral down on a circle and then leg yield back out onto a 20m circle keeping correct alignment through her body. I tried the ¾ line leg yield to outside track but she (I??) find this harder and we either get no movement or she tends to trail the HQ’s. Although I did find it easier when I actually looked in the direction I wanted us to go DOH!! I am wondering if Im asking for too steep an angle though? Its hard to tell :-S Although after doing this work, even though it wasnt perfect, the trot was hugely improved afterwards. She was really powering along, swinging her back, soft in the hand, and I was swinging WITH HER in my rise and it all felt so effortless :-)
The most exciting news is that I am having a lesson with Mike on Sunday!! YEEEEEHAAAAAAA!!!! So I am sure he can put me right on the whole lateral work / my position in canter worries I have at the moment. Of course, a lesson report will be forthcoming YAY! :-D