Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Quick Update!

Snow stopped play On Thursday and although I tried to get to the yard I nearly ditched my car doing so!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! So I gave up and went home – a little shaken actually. Went for a lovely hack out with one of the girls on the yard on Saturday and it was nice to take the time to relax and have a chinwag, actually Id not realised how much I missed riding out with my daughter as nowadays I ride out on my own more often than not. Antsje enjoyed it too I think having some company :o)

On Sunday I did a bit of schooling in the arena and also yesterday morning too. The running theme was, well, exactly that…………….RUNNING! She is back to her trammy ways and I rather suspect its because we have been doing a few sessions of the more open work and then the hack she is avoiding stepping under and engaging in her typical way which is trying to speed up and run through my hands. I actually HATE when she gets like this because its very hard not to get into an argument with her because even trying to ride ‘tactfully’ for example putting her on smaller circles / serpentines to try and get her to slow down just doesn’t seem to work! She can do a 10m circle at warp speed – not correctly of course and its like the wall of death!! And its SOOOOO hard not to ‘hold’ which only infuriates the situation even more because that seems to make her even faster lol!
So towards the end, I just focussed on my position being strong, taking DEEP breaths and trying to set a nice slow rhythm. We did get some better work towards the end but each time I tried to ‘give’ the rein for her to stretch more into my hand, she took the liberty of speeding up! So I didn’t quite get the submission to my seat that I prefer and I came off feeling a bit disappointed :o(

This morning I worked on SUBMISSION!! Lol! I also put my stirrups back up a hole as I felt yesterday I was tending to get a bit ‘water-skier’ as she was doing her best to pull me out of position. I think this worked better today. Also I remembered to breath deeply right from the start, which helped ME, stay relaxed at any rate! So we did lots of walking / halting from the seat before we did ANY trotting at all! I also went back to more lateral work and did some girivolta / Shoulder In / Travers on the circle. As I felt her ‘come together’ more then I asked for trot and although she did try it on a little bit at the start, we actually got some nice SLOW trotting and some proper 10m circles :o) At the end I went large and practised walking STRAIGHT – not as easy as you may think! If you let her dolly on a long rein she is fine, but ask her to walk SLOW and in balance then she finds it hard. But we persevered until I felt she understood the exercise – which was basically engaging through her body evenly as she is good on circular work but looses it on the straight lines. So nothing really spectacular with regards to exercises or the quality of work – but I do think that I achieved my purpose, which was for her to STAY WITH ME!

I am attending a clinic on Sunday with Heather Moffett which I am really excited about!! BOING BOING!! I had a lesson about 3 yrs ago with her so I am hoping she will notice some improvements! And also move us forwards with her keen eye – particularly rider faults (Ooops!) Plus lots of my friends are going too, so it should be an excellent day for learning and fun! I am hoping Antsje will be less ‘steam train’ by Sunday!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Super Trot!! BOING!!

I was right!! We had been lacking some lateral flexion especially on the right rein ;o) I really concentrated on flexing the poll while ridden today today and did some bending / counter-bending exercises on a circle, inside flexion of her head while keeping the shoulders straight on the long side and also the ‘deeper’ (eeeek that word!) stretched position in shoulder-in and travers that we did with Mike both down the long side and on the circle. All of this was to try and get her to really release the neck from the base but also keep the gait steady and not loosing balance and rushing and falling onto the forehand.
We didn’t really do any more than those exercises today as I think it was enough for her to think about and I do believe this is one of the things she does find difficult.

So after we had done a bit in walk I asked her to step up into trot trying to keep the same ‘connection’ of the base of the neck and slight inside flexion. She did try and rush at times (her evasion) but I kept asking her to slow down and once she did I used the inside rein in a slightly upwards / outwards manner while also pressing her with my inside leg to ask her to flex to the inside – and all of a sudden, she released her neck and we had ‘SUPER TROT’ which feels just bloody brilliant! Not any easier to ride I might add because the lift is amazing! :-0
The release down into the inside bend seems to also release the back and free the inside hind because the change in the quality of trot is unmistakeable and the words ‘elastic, supple, through, swinging’ all come to mind. The best way I can describe it is the hindlegs ‘sink down’ and then as they push off the energy comes through the whole of the body like a wave. Of course we have moments of unbalance (both of us) but I am finding techniques to successfully re-balance and re-gain the ‘super trot’ at least on a circle anyhow! To finish we used the whole arena and we both found it more difficult to maintain ‘on the straight’ particularly as she has more scope to ‘set sail’ down the long side! But I do think its important to venture off the ‘safe circles’ and try and test our balance on the ‘straight and narrow’ so’s to speak hahaha!

Oh yes, I am still incorporating the clicker work into the training – not prolifically but for when she does something really special……..like super trot!

The poll flexions were better today also.

GOOD day today! :-D

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mirror Mirror..........

Well, what a difference a day makes! Yesterday morning I had the most AWFUL ride that I have had for quite some months! She was totally unfocussed and running through my hands – it felt vile :o( Maybe because of the hardwork she was a bit stiff – BUT – I had only intended on doing some long loose stuff after the last two days of engaged work. Also although I ‘thought’ I was looking forwards to working with her and had my head in the right place, because I was fretting a bit about my follow up smear after my op last year, in retrospect I think my energy must have been more jittery than normal. So this probably did have an effect although I didn’t think I was displaying any ‘bad vibes’ she obviously picked up on something – animals are such a good barometer for the ‘true’ emotions of people although we try and hide it well.

I cant remember what book it was in but this was termed as the ‘authentic self’ and how horses (and indeed animals in general) are so good at seeing straight through the bravado and acts of humans and respond directly to the ‘authentic self’ and that is why animals are great at sussing out people – even the real GOOD actors cant fool ‘em lol!!!

Anyway back to the session – although on reflection some of this behaviour was probably due to my ‘wired’ energy and some of it may be due to her being a bit stiff and finding it hard to engage as well therefore her evasion has always been to RUSH – I haven’t been happy about her poll area since the Chiro came :o(

As some of you are aware I have been practising ‘poll flexions’ for a while now to great effect (IMHO!) and although I know deep down that Antsje hasn’t released 100% to me, compared to when I first had her it’s a massive improvement. Im not sure WHY she is so protective over the poll area, but I know whenever she is stressed or on high alert immediately she adopts the high neck / fixed poll posture, regardless of being ridden or out in the field. It is a ‘friesian’ thing I think, well all horses raise the head I know but its very pronounced in this breed. So, as I was saying, since the Chiro treatment she has been very ‘fixed’ and ‘protective’ again over this area, noticeable when Im putting her headcollar on and off and also the bridle. When I have been trying to do the flexions she would flex to the left but I could barely get her to flex right – and when I did I then couldn’t get her to make the smooth move back to the left which makes the crest ‘flip’ over. Its as if she was stuck! I havent pushed the issue too much since the chiro as I haven’t wanted to interfere with anything and in honesty it doesn’t seem to have had a big effect on the riding after the initial few days where I got a bit panicky!!

So after I had ridden, I tried again with the flexions and I just could NOT get her to flex! In fact when I asked her to stretch her neck down just straight, it looked kinked **sigh** So I decided to do the thing that seemed to have unlocked the poll when I was experimenting which is to walk her round on a very small circle making sure her shoulders are moving AWAY from me and putting my hand on the top of her poll and just trying to flex the poll and release the neck down. She was really struggling to keep the ‘AWAY’ movement and kept walking into me, but I was quietly insistent and all of a sudden I felt something give and even heard a slight ‘crack’ and all of a sudden she started licking and chewing and released her neck down. I must admit I was little horrified in case Id done something AWFUL!! But I tried rocking her poll form side to side and although not smooth, she was able to flex each way so I left it at that.

Today I decided to do some work in hand just off the cavesson to incorporate some more of this flexing type of work and the ‘Lossyglossy’ (losgelassenheit) stuff on the lunge.
First off I just walked with her around the arena on a loose rein and each time she got all tense and high necked I encouraged her to relax her neck and clicked and treated when she did. She has a particular part of the arena where she can see the road and always likes a good GAWP but I worked on her keeping her attention on me with a relaxed low neck. Once she was consistent with this I stood in front of her and tried the poll flexions – and Lo and Behold, she was as soft as butter with her crest flipping from side to side! I clicked and treated so she understood this was the movement I wanted :o) Then I sent her on the lunge first in walk then in trot concentrating on a low relaxed neck and a swinging back – she was very good and on the whole kept nice and loose even as she passed the ‘gawpy’ spot ;o) I did have to whistle at her a few times to bring her focus back to me lol lol! Then I bought her in close and did the small circles with my hand on the top of her poll and there was very little resistance today and she was able to keep her shoulders mobile and moving away from me!
I sent her back out on the lunge and we did a little bit of canter trying to get the same kind of relaxation as we have in trot. She actually tried very hard! She knows she has to release her neck forwards, but balance I think is still an issue so she gets so far but cant quite release fully and is still a little tight through the back. I realise that some of the neck position is ‘posturing’ on her part for a click and treat hahaha! BUT it is serving a purpose because although not correct yet, this position WILL enable her to build the strength required to fully release the back and neck at some point.

So after a highly frustrating morning yesterday, today could not have been more different! I was so pleased with her efforts, and so relieved that her poll seems a lot looser and I haven’t broken her! In fact even when we had finished and she was standing tied up while I was putting her rug on she was doing lots of ‘yawning’ and chewing so I do think Ive managed to release some more tension again today :o)

I will be interested how this correlates into riding tomorrow as although not massively noticeable I do think she has been struggling with releasing fully into the right bend – made quite obvious by the reverse pirouette video where obviously she was leaning on the inside rein / shoulders and getting stuck. We’ll see!

Monday, 15 February 2010

'prelim' type work

So to finish with I like to end the session with the more 'prelim' type frame concentrating on Antsje following the contact forwards a little more but NOT rushing! this is hard for her - and me! lol! I also like to do the canter work with this frame at the moment as I think its important she gets established with stretching over the back in canter even if it does mean she is a little on the forehand. Once she becomes more relaxed and confident then I will swing between the 'up' work and the longer frame as I do in the trot. At the minute I am confident that I can put her neck in a stretched position in trot and she will respond straight away - if I wasnt sure I could do this then I wouldnt do the work that does shorten her neck somwhat as she is naturally prone to that postion. So if at any point she wont follow the hand down, we leave the other work for a while until this is re-confirmed.

Im quite pleased with the video in general but can see ALL the points that Mike picked up in my position Gggggggrrrrrrrr!!! I AM rounding the shoulders and although not really tipped forward I have that 'feel' about me! esp in sitting trot where I really DO need to open my chest so my abs DONT collapse! I can also see what Mike means about the hands.............
Yes, they are too far 'back' now, so I MUST ocus on this and think of my elbows more towards the front of my hip bones and not the back! lol! My hands also look a bit 'dead' and as Mike says, if I shorten my reins up a bit, hold my arms a bit more forwards than it will bring some life back into my hands and our connection. Antsje is SOOOO sensitive about being jabbed or fiddled with in the mouth that as usual I have swung the pendulum too far the other bloody way! ***rolls eyes***

But lets hope now I can ***SEE*** it I will remember to do something about it!

New Moves!!

A couple of 'work in progress' videos of new stuff we are working on. Both of us get a litle tense and tight.............and co-ordinated lol lol! so there is no suprise that things are not exactly perfect - as far away as it could be in fact lol!! But heck! we all gotta start somehwere right??

Half Pass

So, I have to control the quarters a bit more on the start of the exercise but we did straighten it up somewhat by the finish!

Reverse Pirouette:

Well the first exercise is the more 'correct' one which wil give you the idea of how the exercise works. Renvers down the 3/4 line, turn the haunches around the forehand in the direction of the bend and then return back up the 3/4 line in travers! simples! hahahaha!
but watching the second part - obviously NOT! Made a right hash of this one as its the side where Antsje finds it hardest to flex around - for a start I have WAY to much angle in renvers - she likes me to do this as its more a leg yield and she doesnt have to bend through her body ;o) Secondly, because I havent got a true bend and that inside to outside connection, I am having real problems in turning her from the outside rein and she is 'stuck' on her inside shoulder and therefore her we dont make the turn properly - when she finally moves the inside shoulders its too late and we loose the position and end up coming up the long side in some mangled SI / Legyield movment, which again suits madam cos she cant possibly bend through her body! And the rider just dont seem to know where she is in the movement to do anything to assist hahahaha!!! Oh dear!

Half Steps:

Our first attmept at slowing but energising the walk to really get some 'engaged' steps / baby half steps. Its something Im not planning on doing a whole lot of, but I do think it will be useful a sprinkle in now and again.

VIDEO!!! Warm up..........

Amy did some video of me yesterday!! I did a bit of work in hand, a bit of girivolta work, some of the suppling exercises that Mike showed me on Saturday and then some of the ‘prelim’ riding which is in a more ‘open’ frame at the end.

Ill start by putting on the in hand work and the girivolta exercises as I think too many videos at once will just be a bit mind-blowing hahaha!!!

Im purposefully asking her to keep her neck released in the in hand work as her tendency is to get short in the neck. It flows better when her neck is ‘up’ but now im working on strengthening her back / neck connection so she gets a bit sticky at times. I always finish with the neck down position as again her base nature is head up and rushing through you – so I like her to keep her neck long and relaxed with her circling round me as it releases any tension of the exercise particularly after the trot as she finds it harder and gets more tense. I do this ridden too, but on writing this I realise not NEARLY as much – a bit silly really. Must keep it in mind for the future. ;o)

Giravolta ridden – again just an example of the work I do to warm up. Reins in the outside hand, whip in the inside to encourage the HQ’s to move over. It would be nice to see her relax her neck more – and she does at times, but at the minute id rather sacrifice the neck for the ‘engagement’ – the neck WILL come ;o) I don’t do this for too long at a time and walk on a long rein in-between changes of rein so we don’t build too much tension through the neck.

In hand Left

In hand Right

In hand Trot

Giravolta ridden


Saturday 14th Feb

Mikes Lesson:

A fab lesson! Learnt lots again and much to work on :0)

First I started off in a loose walk / trot to warm up then Mike asked me what I had been ‘mostly working on’ **snigger snigger** as each time he comes I have been mostly working on something hahahaha!! This time though I didn’t have a definitive answer! Which I actually think is quite a good thing as I do realise that I can get a bit ‘tunnel visioned’ sometimes lol lol! So I said, we have been working on a few things but I think ‘engagement’ seems to sum it up! So I showed Mike our more ‘together’ trot which she did nicely but I said we seem to collapse downwards!! So we worked on nicer downward trans.

First off Mike had a fiddle with my position. I am still having a tendancy to TIP FORWARDS!!! ARGH! Which is made worse by my lower leg now being a bit too far back so my position isn’t as strong or stable as it could be so although my position is definitely better than it was which helps with the ‘setting sail’ issues, it is letting me down in downward trans as Antsje tips me forwards and is able to collapse into walk rather than step down into walk. So Mike had me put my leg a bit more forward – which felt a bit odd and I said I was concerned about getting back into that ‘water skier’ position but Mike showed me the difference between the two and I could feel it was not the same! So we moved off again and mike told me to ‘open the chest’ and ‘open my shoulders’ and to also shorten my reins but to hold my arms slightly further forwards. Again I was slightly worried about the arm thing as I had a dreadful habit of straight arms and again it seems I have over corrected it! Now Amy did some video of me the following day and I can see EXACTLY what he was saying as I was still in the OLD mode for the majority of the time URGH! But hopefully me now SEEING it will help me to remember it and therefore SIT UP! For gods sake lol lol!

So, back to the lesson……

With my leg a bit more forwards, my chest / shoulder open and my arms a little more forward I DID feel the difference in our connection for the better – and this time when we did a downwards transition it was a lot better! Amazing huh! Also Mike said to think of ‘holding the reins with my back’ which was a really helpful comment for me as it made me focus on being more upright and strong through my back and not rounding the shoulders. I hope I can break this sodding habit!
After a few good trans on each rein we then moved onto working large round the school and doing some lateral work. We did some shoulder in and Mike got me to first SLOW THE WALK!! Half that speed!! And then to lessen the angle slightly and to really open the inside rein for Antsje to release the neck down but still maintain the SI position AND the slow walk. Very hard for Antsje as it took a lot of core strength to balance – very hard for me as it took a lot of core strength to keep the walk slow and the SI position and NOT to interfere with her neck! Mike says he has nightmares about the friesian neck hahaha! He said although in this position Antsje look to be going a little deep, its where she need to be for the base of her neck to be tied in to the rest of her body and as long as she maintains position and does not rush off then I shouldn’t worry about her head positioning as such right now. Mike also commented that with most other horses working this low would probably start to disconnect the neck but with Antsje it works. One thing we need to get her used to is adopting this ‘released neck’ when you ask her to start lateral work rather than to shorten and bring it back which really does disconnect the base of her neck and keeping the base of her neck tied into her back / HQ’s is so important. It obviously had some effect though as she was snorting and blowing throughout the exercises. We then did shoulder in for a few steps down the long side and then into sitting trot on a 20m circle keeping the connection and the energy created from the shoulder in. Antsje was starting to feel really good and ‘connected’ especially when I got my act into gear when Mike reminded me about ‘Open Shoulders’ Or ‘reins forwards’ or ‘weight the outside toe’ which I found really useful at stabilising me leg! But could I do them all together???? DOH!!

Finally we ran through a repertoire of suppling exercises I can use for helping Antsje step and ‘fold’ her hind legs more………….

Ones we can do!
Shoulder In: Less angle, deeper release of the neck
Travers: Less angle (again!!) and aim for that neck release again
Renvers: Quarters Out – same angle / neck release as for Travers
Walk Pirouette: Ask for a few steps of traver, then straighten then ask for the pirouette. If she gets sticky make it bigger – most important is that she keeps moving forwards.

New stuff!

Half Pass! Ooooo!!! We are getting posh lol!
We did this out of shoulder in and asked her to move over from the outside leg into the direction of the movement. A good little tip Mike gave me was in the movement open the OUTSIDE rein as this ‘anchors’ the shoulders. This worked really well! Difficult for me to explain but if you try it you will ‘feel’ what I mean ;o) The only thing is this can only be done ONCE the bend has been established so works well from Shoulder In.

Reverse Pirouette:
Now we are getting complicated and I need LEFT and RIGHT sewing into my gloves! As mike would say track left, and then say – NO, your other LEFT!! Pmsl!!! So we did renvers down the ¾ line, butt towards the long side – then after a few steps you ask the haunches to rotate around the forehand 180 degs until you are facing the other way and coming back up the ¾ line in travers! GET IT?? I hope so! It’s a very good exercise for mobilising the ¼’s but because its all new and both me and Antsje get all tight it didn’t look to pretty to start with hahaha! But Im sure once we both get a bit more confident then I can ask for a more released neck during the exercise. FROM US BOTH! Hehehe!
Again, Using the outside rein AWAY from the neck helps to anchor the shoulders and bring the ¼’s around the forehand.

I was really pleased with Antsje – we learned a lot of new stuff today and came off on a real HIGH

Friday, 12 February 2010

its hip to be square!!

A fab ride this morning! Not so cold either today so we did a lot of work in walk to start off with which was just as well as she was feeling a bit ‘forwards’ today and I had to really get her listening to my seat as she was rushing a bit and coming against my hand. Did work on straight lines to start off with on both reins and automatically she felt a lot more even today through the reins and through my seat :o) I did a bit of the flexion work that Emma did with Quico on her videos http://www.enlightenedequitation.com/ee/boards/index.php/topic,38906.0.html
Which I thought worked very well for controlling her body and not letting it warp when I ask for a bit of flexion to the inside.
Then I did a few circles slowing the walk right down and then letting her increase the stride length which was helpful with her tendancy to rush this morning! Then going back to straight lines I resurrected an exercise I haven’t done for a while (too long) which is ‘squares’ with a turn on the forehand (TOTFH) at each corner. I found this exercise really useful for keeping a nice even feel throughout her body and the turn on the forehand (TOTFH) just activating the HQ’s a little through each turn. We then went up to trot in the same exercise and although I didn’t do a turn on the forehand I tried to keep the ‘feel’ of this exercise through the corners and found it really helped her step under under and balance for the next straight line.
We did a bit of trot on a straight line (long side) but not a lot because she was just a bit GUNG-Ho this morning and there is no point doing the wall of death! Little madam even popped herself into canter at one point! It did feel good though lol lol!

So all in all not a bad session and I would have seen the time she would have completely dominated me when she is in these moods – but we worked through it and I didn’t get tense and ‘HOLD’ which makes her run, and she did try and listen to my seat although we did have a few ‘moments’ **rolls eyes**!

I feel much better about how she felt though today and tomorrow we have a lesson with MIKE!! WOOHOO!!! BOING BOING!!!!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Forward and Straight!

Or should it be straightforwards?? hahaha!

After realising I had probably overdone the riding after the chiro session I gave Antsje the day off completely yesterday, although I did notice she seemed quite ‘tight’ again through the poll when I was putting her headcollar on. I am beginning to worry I have overdone it to her detriment and also wonder why a bodywork session should put her so out of whack – almost to the point of feeling crooked again?

This morning I rode again but I focussed on forwards and straight work and it was actually quite nice to do some different type of work and also found it very interesting the information it gave me :o) First off when I got on she felt very like she was throwing me to the outside on the right rein and I was starting to panic my last session had put her pelvis out or something!! ARGH!! But I just though, forward and straight and tried to get an even contact into BOTH reins and to imagine my legs being ‘pillars’ which she had to remain straight inbetween. On the right rein I asked for a bit more activity from the outside hind and concentrated on her HQ’s not trailing to the inside – this automatically made her feel more ‘level’ through my seat. On the left rein I had to focus more on her neck being straight as she tends to naturally flex to the inside and trail her HQs to the outside. So I kept more of a feel through the outside rein until I could feel some contact into the inside rein and also using my outside leg to keep the 1/4s straight.

I also did a bit of slowing the walk right down using my seat but still asking for forward and straight – we did get a few wiggles from side to side but in the main she kept pretty straight and maintained it when I asked her to walk more forwards again. Then we went into trot and applied the same kind of aids. To start with she wanted to go a bit quicker than I wanted so I slowed her down a bit – but I did find it harder on straight lines to stop her getting a bit onward bound than when I ride circles. So from a very slow almost ‘counted walk’ which was STRAIGHT I asked her to step into trot and we then got a much slower and balanced trot. I was mindful of plenty of downward trans so she didn’t get tempted to ‘set sail’ but in the main I was very happy with the work and we were able to get some nice ‘straight and even’ strides down the long side.

I also kept away from the outside track and used the inside circuit as she does love to ‘lean’ against the fence lol!! I felt her keep trying to wander back to the track at the beginning but at the end she seemed much more balanced and was happy to stay between the ‘pillars’ of my legs.

So on the left rein the ¼’s swing to the outside and the neck naturally kinks to the inside with the weight on her outside shoulder. On the right rein her ¼’s tend to swing IN and her neck kinks to the outside with the weight more on her inside shoulder. So she is not quite a straight line but more an oblique line lol! Now although the work we have been doing on the circle has been good, it has been harder to identify the weakness on the left rein as she automatically flexes to the inside and therefore it **feels** like you have her in the outside rein and she is not hanging on the inside rein, but in reality she is not taking ENOUGH of the inside rein and she is LEANING on the outside rein and falling out of the circle. Its very subtle but far more apparent on the straight line than it is on the circle!
On the right rein it’s a different story! On the straight t line she feel much straighter on this rein because her neck doesn’t flex so well to this side and its not until you go on a circle that you realise that she falls IN through the shoulder and slightly flexes to the outside and therefore leans on the INSIDE rein.

So……………what does this tell me?? Well actually nothing new! I already had this figured – BUT – it DOES tell me that I need to ride as much straight lines as I do circle work and I DO need to focus on having an EQUAL contact in BOTH reins and an awareness that she is leaning on neither ;o) The best way to judge this at the moment is how she feels on a circle to the right and on a straight line to the left. So all in all a positive session where Ive learned a lot about the benefits of straightening work and why its important to work on both circles AND straight lines!

At the finish Antsje felt very even on both reins and I didn’t get the ‘pushing my seat to the outside’ at the end – so I calmed down a bit hahahah!!!

Oh! And she seemed a lot looser through the poll today too! :o)

Monday, 8 February 2010

MONDAY Morning Blues…….

Early morning rides!! This morning we were having little flurries of snow!! IT WAS COLD! Brrrrrrr! So I made sure that we warmed up thoroughly and trotted fairly early on in a nice long frame concentrating on a nice big swingy stride – which she was happy to oblige!! ;o) We did this on both reins and also had a nice long and loose canter on both reins too which actually felt HUGELY better than on Saturday as did the trot :o) Once warmed up I started to ask for some transitions and again this felt very nice and smooth and she was really obedient to the leg which she can sometimes be a bit slow to react to! So I was feeling very pleased until I decided to put in a few smaller circles not quite 10m prob about 12m and instead of really slowing and stepping under as she was dong so nicely last week she was getting quite rushed and falling out of the circle to make it bigger and easier! Particularly on the right rein I just kept loosing her quarters and they were swinging out of the circle :o( I tried sitting the trot to influence the positioning more, but that didn’t work either and she was starting to stick her nose in the air and ‘scoot’ which is her evasion tactic but she hasn’t done that for a while so I was quite dissapointed in her reverting back to this stressy behaviour. I also noticed that I was ‘leaning in’ on the smaller circles too!! Ggggrrrrrrr!! I think I got a grip of it in the end but maybe im still doing it to a degree and putting her off??
I could tell she just didn’t want to activate her hind enough to be able to keep the trot slow and her body in correct alignment on the circle. So I thought Id do some walk pirouettes to really try and get her hind legs ‘marching’ a little more through the turn. She wasn’t very impressed with this to start off with but once she realised what I was asking her to do she performed a couple of nice 180 degree turns on each rein. Then I did a bit of haunches in on a circle on the right rein and then asked for trot, the trot definitely felt better and we did manage to perform one nice 10m circle without loosing the 1/4s too badly so I left it at that – as I had already run way over time lol!
Which got made worse as she was quite bargy through the gate this morning so I spent 5 mins correcting this behaviour making her halt EXACTLY when I gave the command and wasn’t just wandering off in lala land ***rolls eyes*** Cue frantic rushing around for the rest of the morning – Heaven knows how I made it to work on time! But I did just by the skin of my teeth!

So on reflection, here are my musings – please feel free to comment :0)
1.Has the Chiro work re-aligned her and she just has to re-adapt to this within the work again?
2.Am I making her crooked and she is now straight but it feels wrong to me because my ‘feel’ is outa whack?
3.Maybe the ‘flying friesian trot’ was to blame for her not wanting to flex her hocks as much as she was cos its far easier for her to push not spring?
4.Maybe she is a bit stiff after chiro and weekend work?
5.Im panicing the chiro has messed things up! ARRGGHH!!!


Musings from the weekend……

On Saturday I thought Id try and be clever and set my camera up on the fence and try and get some video!! I thought Id do a bit of lunging / work in hand first and then a bit of ridden.
Well as she hadnt been ridden for a few days she was proper BOINGY and we didn’t really get much loose calm work on the lunge :o( In fact I think she spent more time airbourne than on the floor lol!! Perhaps best I didn’t get on straight the way!! One thing I did notice is she was quite ‘on the shoulders’ particularly on the right rein where she was looking to the outside on the circle and wieghting her inside shoulder. I brought her in and did some girivolta work with her concentrating on corssing the behinds and moving the shoulders to the outside. I put her back onto a circle again and we did finish with some ‘stretchy trot’ which I rewarded with click n treat :o)
I stopped the camera, and restarted it and got on to ride. She was VERY forward but at least she was also attentive to my seat so although she was boingy she didn’t try and tram off at a million miles an hour lol!
After a few circles etc I could feel that she was struggling with the flexion to the right again and I felt as if we had gone back several weeks in our progress. We also did a bit of canter and if felt absoloutely AWFUL on the right with her wanting to look to the outside and dump on the inside shoulder falling in terribly :o( She was very boingy though and chucked in a couple of bucks which ended up with me loosing a stirrup lol! Im not sure if the bcuks were down to a bit of WHOOPEE or if she couldn’t organise her legs / body?? I was worrying that the chiro work had caused a problem – or maybe im crooked and putting her ‘out’ and she hasn’t got a problem at all! Or maybe there is something kinked in her body ‘normally’ and it became more obvious again after being manipulated back into alignment? Im not sure really but its made me a bit concerned!
I did my normal ‘straightening’ exercises – riding with the reins in my outside hand and working the shoulders / hind legs by touching her with my schooling whip with the inside hand. Finally she ‘let go’ and came into the outside rein and therfore released the inside rein of her own accord :o) We went back up to trot and although it was better she was no where as consistent and kept loosing balance / inside flexion. I worked on both reins in a similar manner and by the end of the session she had definitely improved but I was left feeling a bit discouraged and a little confused by the sudden setback.
Oh! And about the video! I wasnt very clever and it seems my camera wont video without the button being held down. I got 30 secs of my arm in each clip and that was it!!! DOH!

Today I went into the school for about 10 mins and worked on the girivolta circle with the one handed riding again :o) Today it was much better and I was pleased she seemed to remember the work we did yesterday. I had a brief trot on each rein and again she was more consistent so I left it at that and we went for a hack out :o)
Out on the hack I concentrated on her keeping a nice long frame with swinging strides and an even contact down BOTH reins. I was pleased that she seemed a lot straighter than the last time we hacked out so I definitely think she is improving and getting stronger.
On the way home we did a bit of trotting and in her eagerness on the homeward bound journey she went into ‘flying friesian trot’ I probably shouldn’t have let her get so onward bound and no doubt I will pay for it, but in all honesty she just seemed so thrilled to ‘trot out’ and I was so thrilled that she was thrilled that I let her lol! It truly is quite spectacular and its damn near the closest thing to flying on horseback other than being astride pegasus hahaha!!! The thing is as I looked down her neck, it was very reminscent of how it looks when you are sitting in a carriage and the horse is doing their spanking carriage trot! I really do think she would LOVE to be hitched up and be free to really trot out in true friesian style. Maybe one day…………………

The Chiro came.........

The Chiro came…….
to do a routine check on Antsje as I havent had her checked out for over a year :o( Finances just havent allowed it although Im always very thorough in keeping a check on her myself and if I thought there was a real problem I would have had her checked out and not eaten that week lol!!
The lady said that antsje was in a very good state albeit very slightly weaker on the left and loved her to bits and wanted to take her home!!
1. her pelvis was a little bit out on the right
2. there was a couple of tweaks that were made just behind her withers
3. there was a deep adjustment made just above her left shoulder
4. A couple of minor adjustments to her neck on the right in the C1 area.
So im glad I had her checked over and the lady said for saying she hasn’t been checked for over a year she was very impressed with her condition. Oh she just LURVED her movement! Another friesian convert Mwhha haaa haaaa!!!
Recommended not to ride for a couple of days so Ill wait to see how she feels at the weekend!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Return of the Super Trot!

Had a REALLY good session this morning! Antsje wasn’t quite so intent on rushing today and that ALWAYS makes a difference :o) PLUS I forsook 5mins of riding and did a little girivolta work in hand before I got on, I think this MUST make a difference as we always seem to have a much better session ridden afterwards.

So after the poll flexions, which incidentally were better today, and the in-hand stuff I finally got on lol! I kept to work on a circle and did a little leg yield then straightened and repeated again a few times. Then I concentrated on gathering her up a little by tap tapping her HQ’s but holding her with my seat, this was easier today as she wasn’t to rushy so she still kept relatively soft in hand. Then we went into trot, left rein first, and it was MUCH MUCH better! She learns so quickly it makes my life so much easier! Well when I get it right anyhow lol! On this rein she does tend to back off the contact a little so I made sure I sent her forward and concentrated on her neck being straighter. Also after yesterdays session I remembered to add transitions into the mix and they were actually quite good! A little progressive but id rather her go down into a soft trans by allowing her time to step under and balance than try and make it to quick and her trail her HQs and brace her neck / back.
We changed onto the right rein and repeated the same work and again I was really impressed with the trot – on this rein she is the opposite and tends to go a tad quicker and leans on the hands for support, so I really concentrated on lifting my hands slightly when I felt her leaning and using my position and a smaller circle to encourage her to slow down a bit! Again we did walk / trot trans and this was also very helpful in getting her off the forehand and stepping under more.

I was also far more mindful of MY position and focussed on a raised ribcage and trotting ‘on my knees’ and I do think that this helped today too.
And to finish we did the same work on the canter as we did yesterday morning – a nice relaxed stretchy canter which was in fact a lot better today because she was more contained so it had more ‘lift’ to it although I wasn’t necessarily asking for it ;o)

So again, after musing about the ride on the way to work, the next thing I need to work on is getting a more immediate reaction in the upward transitions but maintaining the softness and the engagement of the hind leg rather than her bombing off at a million miles an hour lol! Always something to work on!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Expectations = dissapointment!

Another early morning ride this morning! But before I rode i decided to do the little poll flexions and again she wasnt quite as free as normal.....
I worked on her until I got a few definate flips of the crest then we went out to the school. No time for in-hand work this morning and whether it was that or the cold mornings or the floodlights we didnt get the same kind of work today.
It wasnt bad - not bad at all, but now Ive felt that 'super trot' its hard to not get greedy for it! which of course is counter-productive and its inevitable im not going to achieve that kind of excellence every ride, particularly in these very early stages. So I was quite proud of myself that I didnt get all angst and frustrated and tunnel visioned about it all as I once would have done. And as part of me STILL wanted too lol! But I was quite pragmatic about it and took a detached 'trainer' approach and thought how I could best work towards more engagement.
We did some travers / shoulder in on a circle and we did some rein back before trot transitions to try and encourage the flexing of the hind - and it did work to a certain extent as we had moments of some very nice trot work but it was just inconsistent today as she was rushing slightly. What was nice was although the right rein wasnt as spectacular as yesterday, it was still GOOD in relation to the last few weeks and the Left rein WAS better than yesterday! So all in all it was a positive session.

I did forget to say that at the weekend I put my stirrups down a hole as I feel I get a better response from a longer leg when I warm up without stirrups. I had them a bit shorter to help with MY balance but I think Ive improved enough to let them down a hole :-) Now Ive definately felt a stretch in my hops and thighs but didnt feel any less balanced over the weekend :-)

Today, towards the end I felt my back aching a bit nothing awful but enough to suddenly become aware of it. I checked out my position and I think because she was rushing a bit today I was starting to fall into the trap of tipping forwards and bracing my legs Ggggggggrrrrrrrr!!!! So immediately I thought about rising 'on my knees' and stretching my midsection 'up' and the trot improved instantly! DOH! I MUST be more mindful of my position! Also after mulling the ride over on the way to work I think instead of concentrating on re-creating that 'SUPER TROT' Iwould have been better served tohave concentrated on transitions, particularly the downward ones to get her back 'with me' rather than letting her get a bit onward bound from too longer bursts of trot. DAMN! I need to be a bit quicker on the uptake - it would make it a whole lot easier hahaha!!!

So at the finish I decided to let her have a bit of a canter - i didnt have time to 'school' the canter as such, but I just let her canter a 20m circle, concentrating on her establishing a consistent rhythm, a nice stretch over the back and as much as possible to have that stepping out on the circle feeling that I doin trot. Obviously this is harder as she isnt as balanced in canter - but I do think that if she can establish a nice relaxed canter that is supple through the back and reaching into the hand it will be the foundation for improving the canter in the future.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Reinback Revelations


Didn’t have chance for a hack out today but did get time for a ride in the arena. I started again with the work in hand, then got on and did the concentrated work on the circles again. And AGAIN we got that beautiful right trot with a really nicely activated inside hind and her seeking the contact forward. We again had a lovely slow balanced trot with such BOINGY steps and a lifted back. IT FEELS ACE!
Tried the left rein again and it was better but still lacking that real elastic and ‘lifted’ feel of the right rein. I was again trying to think of ways to activate that left hind – so I tried some reinback! Well this was an eye opener as she was finding it very difficult to remain straight in reinback on this rein with her 1/4s keep drifting to the inside of the school. So does this mean her right leg is pushing more than her left and swinging the HQ’s in? I really had to keep the outside rein to keep her neck straighter and flick her inside hind with the schooling whip to bring her back straight. Very interesting……
But as I started to get the reinback straighter I could feel her become straighter in the walk forwards also. So then I asked for reinback to trot! To really try and get her pushing that inside hind – I let her go straight for a few steps then put her on a small circle making sure she had her neck straighter and was bent more through her body. We did get a few much better steps in the end and I praised her lots and left it at that.

Now after Ive finished riding I always do these little poll flexions as it does seem to prevent a build up of tension in this area and release anything that has built up during the session. Just lately she has been so soft doing this, always a little stickier on the right but barely anything recently. Now imagine my surprise after this session that she wasn’t very mobile at ALL!! Not on either rein! After a few minutes of rocking her head side to side we began to get that ‘flip’ on the left side but really struggled on the right. So in the end I did what I did originally to get this area mobile and that is to bend her to the right on a small circle, put my hand on her poll and make sure she flexed from this point and then ask her to move around me on a small circle while moving her shoulders AWAY from me. This she found hard for a few steps and either wanted to turn her head out to move her shoulders over or keep flexed but step INTO me! But suddenly she got it, and down she went into a relaxed bend nicely chewing on the bit YAY! So then I tried the little flexions again and hey presto a nice flip to each side. I wonder why it had locked her up though?? Maybe cos she is stiffer through this side of the body?
Anyhow, I shall be interested to see how she feels next ride to the right and to the left.

We have LIFT OFF!!!! :-D

Had a FANTASTIC riding experience this week which has helped put some more pieces of the puzzle together.

As it was the weekend I had time to do some work in hand before I rode – I really do think it makes a difference :-D We did some girivolta work, some leg yield from the centre line to the long side and also a bit of reinback / walk / reinback transitions. For some reason she find it harder to keep straight on the left rein than the right.
The last few weeks I have pondering the left rein – I have figured out what was causing the issues on the right rein and have found solutions that work and I can definitely see the improvements. But on the left, where she flexes easier, in fact I have realised now overflexes to the inside I couldn’t really nail WHAT I need to improve on this rein as it does feel pretty good but not quite there……..

So on Saturday we did the inhand work and then I got on. Once in the saddle I kind of repeated the in hand work, doing girivolta and then bringing her straight onto a circle but still trying to maintain that leg yielding feeling of her pushing from the inside hind into my outside rein maintaining the inside bend from my leg. She was feeling pretty good actually so I picked my moment to ask her into trot and BAM out of nowhere I got this flipping FANTASTIC trot!! Never felt her use herself in that way before and MY GOD did it feel good! REALLY good – I cant begin to explain the feeling it gave me but boy is it addictive hahahah!

I really feel that by working on this genuine submission to the inside bend it has unlocked her inside hind leg somehow – but not only that because she is soft through the poll it has allowed the energy to go right THROUGH and the difference in her back was amazing! Now I would say she HAS been working through her back and even now I hold to that statement, but I don’t actually think she has been fully relaxed and there has been some kind of bracing / tension along the energy line of HQ’s to Hand until now.
Its difficult to know if it was the relaxed poll that allowed the hind leg / back or if it was the engagement of the hindleg that gave proper use of the back! In Antsje’s case I rather suspect it was the first ;-) Tension in the poll has always been an issue and I think finally we are starting to see it melt away.

So, back to the transition – as I asked her to go up into trot I could feel her take the weight from behind and step into trot but as she did so her back was just ‘so full’ and ‘bouyant’ it really lifted me up!! But not only that she also sought the contact with an open throatlash area and inside flexion. Now this is a BIG thing for her because she always struggles with that tiny bit of ‘nose out’ reach and can often curl back as a result. The trot was very slow but had far more OOOOOOOMPH than her usual trot and the suspension was unreal lol! So although in some way it was easier to ride because her back was so lifted and carrying, I really had to work hard to keep MY balance as I didn’t want to mess hers up lol!! It just felt DIVINE! I was so flippin pleased with her she got herself a whole heap of treats

So then we changed onto the left rein and I really struggled to get the same feeling out of the trot. So I finally figure out that on the left rein she is too flexed on the inside and is not engaging her HQ’s really at all! And when I do ask for a bit more engagement it becomes a bit like pogo stick steps and doesn’t really come forwards into the hand – not the deep activated steps that flowed through the whole of her body on the right rein!
So I really started to try and FEEL how her body wasn’t straight and what I needed to do to try and remedy this. First off, she has kind of tricked me with the inside flexion! Although she is a lot better at this ‘leg yield’ feeling as in stepping over and feeling her in the outside rein – I had kind of missed the point that she was barely IN the inside rein! Just like I struggle with the right rein in being barely in outside! I had got so fixated with the concept of the inside leg to outside rein that I it had just not dawned on me that although she shouldn’t be LEANING on the inside rein, she did actually have to take some weight into it in order for her body to be straight BIG DOH! So I spent some time asking for her neck to become straighter on this rein and she found it quite difficult. I could almost feel her HQs warping to the outside – in fact complete opposite to the issues on the right rein – which would make sense wouldn’t it? Good Lord I am slow on the uptake! So with a straighter neck but a little inside flexion I started to ask her to take more of a ‘travers’ position with her hind quarters to get some bend though the lumbar region which she had been resisting. I could tell she was finding this more difficult but once she got the idea I could feel her take a deeper step with the inside leg.
I also then had a play with walk pirouettes on this rein – at least I think I did!!! I need to get Mike to check if im doing this correct lol! But it felt like it was a good exercise in getting her to control her HQ’s and flex through the body to the inside.
I let her walk on a long rein and left at that for the day.