Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Missy had a lot of helpful advice me on Fourth Level, Test 1 which I will be riding in a few weeks at PVDA's show at Loch Moy. This is a wonderful test--it flows nicely and highlights many of Baronessa's strengths. You can see the movements required here: http://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/tests/abridged/Fourth%201.pdf
If Nessie is being her usual self, I will enter in left lead canter. She tends to travel straighter in this direction. I will remember to put her in a very collected canter before the halt at X. Since she will just have cantered into the halt, I need to be clear that I want a trot in the move-off after X. For the medium trot across the diagonal with 6-7 steps of collected trot centered over X, I need to start the movement deep in the corner. To keep her soft for the collected trot steps, I will slightly flex her jaw and resume the medium trot. Again, I will go deep into the corner so I can make the turn slightly early at A to start the half pass right. Fortunately, this is our better direction and the natural attraction of the wall should help things along! Finish the half pass before B so I have a couple of strides of shoulder in to start the half pass left. This is our more difficult direction, but we have done it well in practice so we can do it! The half pass finishes on the center line at G, so there is time to straighten the bend and go deep into the corner for the extended trot across the diagonal.
This next sequence proves mmore difficult to ride then it appears on paper. Probably because Ness, in general, would prefer not to bend left and my not-working left leg doesn't help matters one bit! After the extended trot, we come around the short side and I need to go deep into the corner and establish the best left bend we can muster. The left shoulder in goes halfway down the long side and then we turn left and halt at X. Ness only did this one time before she knew the halt was coming and she just petered out before X and did a lousy halt through the walk. So, I need to ride really forward to X (can I fool her into thinking there is no halt there, after all??) to get a square halt, which will make the rein back straight and smooth. Rein back 4 strides and prepare to turn right and shoulder in right the rest of the long side. Walk at C (not halt, which is what Ness thinks ought to be the next movement!!) and begin the walk pirouette sequence. Turn right, piro right, piro left. I don't have too much to say about the walk piros except this is not a highlight of ours and my goal will be to keep her forward and active. Right before the piro left might be a good time to switch my whip to the right hand for the canter sequence coming up and also to back up my outside leg for the piro left.
Extended walk across the short diagonal and a chance to catch our breath before the canter tour. We have been working super hard on the collected canter, keeping Ness' poll up, and active behind. We can do it!!! Right lead canter in the corner, taking care not to let her swing her haunches to the inside, and straight up the center line and half pass right. This movement should be another highlight--we are doing incredibly well on this! I was surprised when practicing this test with Missy that Ness was resisting changing to the left lead in the corner. I need to really sit up and back and keep Ness on her hind legs for the counter canter sequence and back up the change aids with the whip if necessary.
The next movement is either going to be a highlight or a real bummer as it is a double coeff. I need to pick up a slightly more forward canter to show the difference in the VERY collected canter ridden from quarterline to quarterline. I will take care to not get a downward transition or the bunny hop canter Ness sometimes does. From there we get to do a medium canter, which should freshen things up a bit before the half pass left, which is our more difficult way. Flying change right in the corner to the extended canter down the next long side. Deep into both corners to get our wits about us before the flying change sequence on the two short diagonals. Whew! We are almost done!! Trot at C, turn at R and halt salute at G.
I mentally rehearse this test a lot. Sounds a little nutty, but in my mind, I ride through any potential problems and I always fix them!!
Flyball is getting very interesting and exciting now that we practice with the team on Saturday nights. Abbey continues to excel and is having the time of her life. I cannot use a flash which makes it difficult to get a good quality picture but here is one from last Saturday. We are practicing with another team in Fredericksburg, VA on Sunday and I cannot wait to see how Abbey reacts to racing different dogs and a strange location. It should be a good insight into how things will go if we are able to compete in the future.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
1) Small circles in trot, but especially in canter, to help collect and re-balance. (Jessica)
2) In half-pass, lean a little in the direction I am going. Do not take my eye off the letter I am traveling to. (Jessica)
3) When beginning a half-pass that will travel from the center-line to the wall, make sure to turn with the outside aids and begin with a shoulder-in. Take care not to let the haunches lead. (Missy)
4) Tap, tap, tap with the whip to remind Ness to bring haunches over--do not wait to tap with the whip until it has all fallen apart. (Missy)
5) Leaning doesn't look so great in the half-pass so try lowering my inside shoulder. (Kerstin)
6) When asking for the flying change, lift a tiny bit on the new outside rein. This is probably the most meaningful and effective thing anyone has ever said to me in relation to getting straight, quiet changes!! Seriously, try it! (Bent)
Still aiming to show Fourth Level, Test 1 at the Loch Moy show September 5th. Got a lot of work to do!!!
On to Flyball. Having "graduated" from the regular classes, we are now practicing with the team! We had our first practice last Saturday and Abbey was a super-star! The combination of working on her swimmer's turn on the chute as well as the regular flyball thingy-mabob that releases the ball in competition, has really helped. Abbey is uber-fast when racing other dogs and seems to know to pair the command, "hold it"with hanging onto the ball until she reaches me. String cheese is a great motivator, and hey, I get hungry, too, during the lengthy classes. I much prefer cheese to the dried liver treats.
MUST GET PICTURES OF FLYBALL.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Today, I rode half passes in trot and canter in both directions. Not a big deal for some, but a HUGE accomplishment for me as my left leg doesn't work properly from the mid-thigh down. Re-learning the shoulder in and haunches in came easier than the half-pass. Don't get me started on my frustration that I couldn't get the half pass which is just one step beyond the SI and HI. Half-passing to the left would turn into a leg yield because I couldn't maintain the left bend and couldn't quite get my weight to the inside. In the half pass to the right I didn't get Baronessa moving off my left leg and the movement would turn into a diagonal line.
Missy and Jessica taught me to use my weight to tell my mare what I wanted. At first it was obvious to anyone watching--now, not so much. They told me "now, now, now" to help me get the timing of using the whip to tap my mare over. They told me to get longer spurs so I didn't have to twist my foot around to use this aid when needed. They gave me exercises to get control of my mare's shoulders and haunches which are the building blocks of a successful half pass. I'm sure their lessons would improve anyone's riding, but for me, they seem to understand there are some things I just cannot physically do in the saddle so they keep at it until an exercise gets the desired response.
I cannot wait for tomorrow's lesson!!
Monday, August 3, 2009
The Ransehousens were at the show, so on Sunday morning, before I trailered the horses home, I took the opportunity to school Ness in the warm-up under Missy's watchful eye. The rain on the roof of the indoor made it hard to hear everything Missy had to say, but somehow I caught enough of the pearls of wisdom to do some decent trot and canter half-passes. I'm due a few vacation days so tomorrow I trailer up to the Ransehousens' Blue Hill Farm for a Tuesday and Wednesday lesson (Ness had the day off today) and I know I will get some more great exercises and homework then!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Speaking of Mom, she is the most talented artist! She painted this portrait (below) of Abbey on my grandmother's china plate from the picture above.
Sonja, her family and I have managed to keep in contact pretty well via email and in-person visits. I love my trips to Germany, where Sonja graciously navigates and translates. I get totally spoiled when Sonja comes to visit me in Maryland, as she is such good company and a tremendous help around the farm.
Sonja is an accomplished and dedicated equestrienne, in spite of only riding once a week, now that she is out of school and working full time. She loves Baronessa (who doesn't??) and took her for a gallop in the track I mowed into one of the unfenced fields. (Yes, there really is a track in between all that tall grass!!)
My Dad always says to me that he misses he even more after a visit then before he had seen me, even if it had been a long time since we were together in person. I know exactly what he means! I can't wait to see you again, Sonja! Don't worry! I will have the chocolate chip cookies, corn bread and peanut butter ready!