Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Now exiting the comfort zone

The last two weeks have been an interesting bout in my education as a rider.

In my lessons with Kate the jump-work pressed me against the edge of my comfort zone with the combination of more canter, tight turns and a more forward ride to some big fences. All in all things are progressing with tremendous homework, self-determination and motivation. Click for Video of Hope's Lesson

Grace also went for a lesson. I enjoy riding this mare because I started a majority of her education later in my riding career when I too was a little more educated and pursuing lessons more actively. Stamina will always be the bane of this mare's existence. Instead of saying she is slow, I like to tell people that she is just deliberate in her steps. Although she was tired at the end of this lesson, she was giving me what little amount of diesel was left in the tank and for that I give her props. Click for video of lesson with Grace
 
Starting to get the hang of it
Earlier this month I casually mentioned to my friend Kelsey Hamilton (USPCA HA)(DC Small Wonder Pony Club) that I wanted to see DOC coach the training sessions and she was game. With her mini-cooper loaded we set off Sunday morning for our ten hour drive. Monday we watched nearly seven hours of USEF High Performance Training Sessions at Stable View Farm in Aiken. If you ever opportunity I would encourage you to sit in on these events and witness in person the caliber of horse and rider combinations this country has to offer. As a visual learner the opportunity was invaluable as observers were able to see how both horse and rider reacted to DOC's requests. Becky Holder is incredible to watch on the flat and I can't wait to see how Allison does with her new ride (a mare!). On Tuesday we went back to the training sessions to catch what was supposed to be the only scheduled jump session of the day and included Erin Sylvester and Becky Holder. The pairs started with a low oxer that got wider with each progressive jump. Huge would be a complete understatement. The oxer was narrowed and increased in height to become the second element of a one stride. The later half of the lesson was devoted to a grid with five fences and a stride between each (set at 22'). Wednesday we pack up and drove home. The trip was short but inspirational and encouraging. 

The next few weeks signal the start of eventing in Area II. I have Grace entered Novice at Plantation Field Horse Trials and if all goes well, she will make the move to Training the following week at Fair Hill. Hope will also go Training at Plantation as we begin planning out first attempt at Prelim. later this spring. Between now and Plantation I would like to see (through disciplined practice) an improvement in a stiller lower leg, steadier hands and soft but steady elbows.

Looking forward to some lessons in the coming weeks to further push the comfort envelope.

Houston, we have lift-off.
Introduction with rail up on one side
Worth the Trust Scholarship Funds: 2575.00
-120.00 for two lessons with Kate (Grace and Hope)
-50.00 for a flat lesson with Anecia Delduco on Rose
- Gas expenses for traveling to Aiken for training session 49.94/51.08/49.95
New Balance: 2254.03

Monday, March 4, 2013

Winterized

Grace and Hope made the trip to Kate Hicks Eventing for jump lessons, which off course couldn't begin until a proper warm-up on the flat occurred. I am beginning to realize that flat work may be the bane of my prepubescent riding career because I have an almost non-existent understanding of true connection. Previous instructors have attempted to do so, and at the time I thought I was beginning to understand, but this week things suddenly began to fall into place.

Hope was first and Kate thoroughly schooled me on creating a canter that made distances instead of half halts and hands. Click for video of our lesson.

Grace was next. The lesson was interesting to say the minimum. Grace isn't particularly interested in listening to me on a regular basis and fancied all the things in Kate's indoor that created any opportunity to evade even the simplest of requests. Fortunately, she was in no way blessed with any form of stamina and became more cooperative as the lesson progressed. Where Hope is built like a tall and slim volleyball player, Grace has a build more reminiscent of shot putter. The transition between the two is similar to climbing out of car and mounting a sofa. Throughout the lesson we continued to school the connection process and transitions (think 18-wheeler going 0 to 60). The lesson took a turn from the usual when we introduced Grace to the liverpool, at which point she demonstrated agility and speed (in the reverse direction) unbeknownst to each observer . The reapproach was equally entertaining as Grace took to leaping with each of her four feet simultaneously over the liverpool. This resulted in belly-aching laughter that went on long enough to shed tears. We ended over a course including some challenging combinations and a substantial oxer. Click for video of our lesson. Disclaimer - you may want to avoid drinking milk during the liverpool.

Lastly, I took Rose to my friend Anecia Delduco for a dressage lesson. Much like Grace, Rose has a tendency to not see the importance of the task at hand. At times her approach is more "the sky is falling, the sky is falling!" #ChroniclesOfMyLittleRedRidingHorse. Immediately Anecia identified that Rose has a tendency to hold tension in the base of her neck, so the focus became leg yields to soften, which combined with straightness, became the theme of the lessons. Rose has light and effortless downward transitions. Her upwards need work and consistency which won't come without more connection on my end.

Lessons on Wednesday weather pending. Cheer to either lessons or a snow day!

Worth the Trust Scholarship: 2745 - 120 (2 lessons with Kate @ 60/lesson) - 50 (One lesson with Anecia @ 50/lesson) = 2575.00