The Seat

When I was a kid I rode dressage for a few years (very intensely). Anyway, starting again as an adult has really opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t grasp back then. Like the seat aids. I knew it was vital, I got the concept for the most part, but I completely failed with the subtleties of it. I thought the “seat” was the thighs and seat bones.
To turn -> thighs and one seat bone;
To stop -> thighs;
To collect -> thighs and calves and reins;

I had thighs of steel.

At my last lesson I was struggling with controlling Ava’s forward momentum at the canter. I tried bouncing the reins, and it half-heartedly worked, but I had to really bounce to get a response (which I’m not a fan of doing). So I whined to my trainer, who gave me a “you should know this” look, then set about explaining how to influence Ava’s momentum with my hips, abs, shoulder’s, and calves (I’m sure she’s explained this all before, but I frequently forget EVERYTHING). She then sent me back out on a 20 meter circle to play with it.

So we pop into the canter and while I’m mentally imagining my head being pulled up to the ceiling by a string, I tighten my abdominal muscles and stiffen my core. This causes Ava to drop into a very lovely trot, but I wanted more collection in the canter, not a trot. So Bern sends me back out with the advice to remember to activate the hind end. Off we go. I try it again, and if I tighten my core just enough to inhibit Ava’s motion when all four feet are off the ground, and add in just a touch of calf, she lands on the inner hind more underneath her (while still cantering).

Except, it felt like this –

Actually, it was really fun. I didn’t have to touch Ava’s mouth at all to go from a very forward canter to a much more engaged, slower canter. I was amazed, shocked, and very fascinated by this. I could have  gone around the ring a billion times just playing the “what happens if I tighten THIS” game. What I found is that I my abs and lower back play a huge part in regulating Ava’s forward momentum. That the easiest way to half halt her is using my core, not my thighs/seat and reins like I originally thought it was.

Either way… This is the coolest thing ever. It also works fantastic for the walk pirouette.

Friesian’s and Fitness

Just curious, but how many of you out there are training Friesian’s, or Friesian crosses?

This is my first experience with the Friesian breed. I never expected to own a Friesian.  I’d always assumed they were for people who had too much money and time on their hands. The type of people who can afford to buy designer clothes, go to spa’s, have two closets full of shoes they’ve never worn, etc.

I’m not that kind of person. In fact, my sister-in-law keeps threatening to put me on that show where they buy you clothes to wear because your tastes in clothes suck so bad that no one wants to be seen in public with you.  This from the lady that claims to like me.

Back to Friesian’s…Is it wrong of me to feel kinship with the breed because of our mutual furriness? Disregard that. What I wanted to ask is, why are they so difficult to get in, and keep in, shape?

What do you do with your Friesian if you take a vacation, or have to take time off from riding for a while? I took 4 day’s off. Just 4 day’s, and the first ride after I get back you would have sworn that mare had been out to pasture for the last two months. She was puffing and wheezing like a 90 year old man after 10 minutes of light trotting.

Lesson Time

It’s lesson night! Yay! I love lesson night. I’m not sure Ava is as convinced it’s all that fun. She doesn’t get away with falling on her inside shoulder, or flinging her head around, or the spooking at the door at the end of the arena.

I’m excited! I’ll try to get some pic’s and post them this weekend.

Patterns?

Well… I have been informed today that dressage is memorizing patterns. I did not know that. hmm. Learn something new every day I guess.

Apparently, by memorizing these patterns I will achieve Grand Prix with my mare. Who knew it was this easy?! Crap… I’ve been doing this all wrong for so long now.  All this time wasted with straightness and engagement.  I should’ve just memorized the Grand Prix test…. I could’ve been showing at the Olympics already. Why didn’t people tell me this sooner!!!

Robert Dover

… memorizing test now…….

Enter A collected canter.
Halt – Immobility – salute.
Proceed in collected trot.
…………………………………….

Here are the tests… I’ll see all of you at GP this summer!
http://www.fei.org/disciplines/officials-organisers/organisers/dressage/dressage-tests

Again, I’m caught with my jaw hanging, and no suitable response. After being told that this is why she doesn’t do dressage (she jumps), I quipped back “that’s why I don’t jump. All those patterns of jumps to memorize”.

Hmphf. 

Why do We Choose Certain Trainers?

At my barn, we have three trainers. The first is pure western/huntseat pleasure. The second gives lessons in jumping and low level dressage. The third trainer (mine), is a Grand Prix level dressage trainer.

Recently, a new boarder was out riding while I tacked up. While shooting the breeze, I asked her what disciplines she rides. She mentioned that she wants to learn dressage. Immediately, my ears perked up and that little thrum of excitement whirrled in my head. Yay! Another convert to the dark side! (You have to be a masochist to enjoy the challenges of dressage.)

So while I’m mentally preparing my speech for why she needs to set up a lesson with my trainer, the girl states that she’s going to take lessons from the jumper/dressage lady (trainer number 2).  I was a bit confused about her choice and, in shock, I dropped the ball on the conversation. But the situation nagged at me…. And set off an internal debate about the moral/ethical implications of bullying a person to make a different choice from the one they’ve made.  😉

What makes people choose the trainers they choose? When you have a choice of several different trainers in your area, what drove you to attach your success to a specific person?

I’m not implying that trainers One and Two aren’t good trainers. From what I’ve seen, trainer One is knocking it out of the park at shows, and her students do well too. Trainer 2 is a great person, and she seems to know her stuff about jumping (horse’s are calm, rider has good control, etc.). But if you want to learn dressage, and the option to take dressage lessons from a GP dressage trainer is there, why would you choose to take lessons from the HJ person?

Partly, I’m a bit demoralized due to the fact that she never even asked me who I train with. Obviously the other rider who trains with the HJ is the person she wishes to emulate. She’s seen both of us ride on several occasions….. I feel like the fat kid who wasn’t picked for the basketball team. 😦  I wasn’t chosen. *sob*

I’ll live. Just wait til show season. *evil grin*

So why did you choose the trainer you chose, and are they still the right fit for you?