Olympus Ranch Stables

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Exporing the the counter-bend

Today was a fairly hot day and I was pretty much dreading my lesson today. My usual lesson is Sunday mornings at 9am but tomorrow is Hubby's birthday so I wanted to reschedule. The ONLY open spot was at noon today... BLAH! Let me set the scene:

I love the heat! No seriously I love the heat. As soon as that thermometer reaches the high 80's I am one happy camper. I'm like Mr. Heat Miser! You know, from the television special "A Year Without a Santa Claus"

So anyway, I love the heat. I went out to tack up Varro at 11:30 for our lesson at noon. By the time I got him out of his corral and tacked up I was SWEATING! Yes ME! Just thinking about a lesson had sweat pouring off my brow! It was easily over 100 with a bit more humidity than usual and NO wind to speak of at all. I just sat on the mounting block and waited to see the dust coming of Liz's truck, mounted and started walking around.

Today's AH-HA moment is brought to you by the counter-bend! We did a lot of walking in today's lesson. We first did a 20 m circle and worked on a natural bend. Liz talked me through my first counter-bend!  After 1 or 2 laps around the circle I started getting it! I learned that there is no sure fire cue for a particular movement. Every part of your body influences your horse's body. You don't just pull in the rein to move the horse's head to achieve the counter bend, you influence the horse's shoulders and haunches to get it! It is important that you are self-aware of your own body when you are riding.

We also work a little on our trot transitions but not for long due to the heat. We got some lovely transitions without him tossing his head/dropping me.  Let me pause right here and tell you how much I love this boy!
I am not going to lie, he has been a challenge. I am learning the most of this challenge is because I was not a good enough rider to get the best out of him. Over the last 2 years, we have really become a good team. When I ride correctly and remember the basics and am self aware... He moves beautifully for me and is nice to ride. OK now back to the lesson recap:
We finished up the lesson doing figure 8 walking counter bends. One the first circle I do the natural bend, the second a counter-bend. Once I finish the first "8" I do the first schedule circle of the second "8" in the counter-bend and the second in a natural bend, and so on. It was a very good cool down.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Great Lesson Considering...

I have not ridden Varro all week. He was quite "spirited" this morning. We spent about 45 minutes in the round pen before I could even tack up! We spent another 15 minutes on the lunge line. I was expecting lots of arguments and "fake" spooks. But NO!

My incredible trainer Liz had a brilliant plan for our lesson. We rode pattern intro C at first a walk then a trot. Varro actually had a walk! I was astonished! He was on the bit, more or less, and kept a really nice tempo. He got sticky in one spot but Liz quickly talked me through it. We had 2 really nice halts too! I left the arena on a free rein to pick up the trot to re-enter and do the same pattern.

His trot was gorgeous! He kept balanced and steady almost the entire pattern! He was strong and straight on the straight lines and we did have a bit of a bobble on the first turn to the right. (to my surprise my fault, but more on that later in my light bulb segment) Very productive.

Last but not least we worked on the canter. We just did 20 m circles at E. I was to ask for a BIGGER and BIGGER trot until Varro broke into a canter and then ride it and encourage it. He did very well but I felt as if he were falling into the circle.... which leads me to this weeks light bulb.

I have been "over looking" my focus points!!!! Yes!!! Varro falling into the circle is ALL my fault! I have been focusing on the next point of the movement, not the movement I am riding! AH-HA! I got it now! I need to focus and where my horse is vice where I want him at the end of the move! For example, if we are riding a 20 m circle I tend look at least a 1/4 circle ahead if not almost 1/2 a circle! I AM CAUSING HIM TO FALL IN! What I should be focused on is where he is now and the next few steps! Like Liz says, "The circle isn't going anywhere Sandy. Where is your horse!" I love my trainer! Lots to work on this week!