Tuesday, September 1, 2009

About time!

Yeah, it's about damn time I updated this blog!

First things first: thanks to Ziggy's dad for taking pictures of our jumping lesson a couple of weeks ago. Here they are:

Nice bit of trot warm-up.

This was our first jump of the day. I was not at all ready for it and got jumped right out of the saddle. Yuck!

If you focus on how much my butt is coming out of the saddle, you won't notice that we took off a stride too early. :)

Oooh... heel down, leg is not sliding forward, I look like I'm with him and the spot is not huge... now if only I could get my chicken-wing elbows under control!

Speaking of huge spots... yikes, do I ever need to learn to WAIT for the fence!

My leg is still slipping back, but at least the spot is a more normal size. Must... WAIT... for... FENCE!!!

Ok, picts from lesson done. Moving along in chronological order, I went on vacation for a week and didn't get to ride; however, Ziggy's dad got in a few rides and so did another friend of mine. Both said that Saga was really good for them but asked about the crummy canter departs (really? we have crummy canter departs??? WHO KNEW!!!) and the lack of straighness. Well, at least I'm not the only one with those problems! While I was gone, Saga also got his saddle checked since the saddle fitter was out to look at FuzzyPony's saddle. She did a minor adjustment but otherwise everything was fine with the saddle.

Last Tuesday (that would be August 25) I had a very nice dressage ride. It was pretty clear that *I* hadn't ridden him in more than a week, but he settled back into the routine pretty well. Toward the end of the ride, I started doing an exercise that FuzzyPony calls "the Horsemaker"... I think of it more like "the rider killer." Here's how it goes:

  1. Trot down the long side from B-F.
  2. 10 meter half-circle (ish) from F-D.
  3. At D, make sure your horse is straight, then leg yield left from D-E.
  4. At E, right lead canter depart, immediately into a 20 meter canter circle at E.
  5. When you return to E, trot. Trot down long side from E-H. Lather, rinse, repeat to the left.
The virtue of this exercise, aside from the fact that you have to be REALLY on the ball to make these things happen where there's supposed to, is that your horse is already a bit collected and stepping under with the inside hind leg in the leg yield, and that just makes your canter depart so much easier. I was getting canter departs IMMEDIATELY, instead of running into them. It was pretty incredible, actually, but I was really, really riding hard to make it happen. I guess that just goes to demonstrate that I'm riding sloppily and not being demanding enough much of the time, because when I really, really ask, I get it.

I ended the ride doing a canter-halt transition instead of a canter-trot transition at E/B. I started to ask for the trot, but I could feel him really sit down and I made a split-second decision to go for the halt. And what do you know, it's in there! It was square, upright, and on the money. Dang, we're good!

So after that fantastic ride, Saga got the rest of the week off. Between the kids starting school and, later in the week, me being sick, I just didn't manage to ride. Sunday I did crawl out to the barn to say hi to him, and my husband had his travel mug of coffee with him. The following ensued:

Do I smell... could it be... OMG COFFEE?!? I MUST HAVE EEET!!! If I can just stretch my prehensile lip far enough, I might be able to snag eeet...

Ahhhh... coffeeeee... delivered fresh to my stall. Dad at least understands the importance of this most wonderous elixir of life! (Mom does not drink coffee, she prefers Chai tea. Mom's wierd.)

Seriously. Saga likes coffee. Who knew?

So, now we're to my ride yesterday (Monday), nearly up to date. Last night I took a lesson with Vanessa, who teaches regularly at my barn. I'm just not sure when I can get down to Paige's place again, so I figured some jumping is better than no jumping. I really concentrated on what I worked on last time with Paige - namely, waiting for the fences and making good turns. The mini-course was all on the right lead, with one bending line. Generally it went pretty well - I really made an effort to wait, and wouldn't you know, we had a lot of really nice spots. When I failed to ride and wait, we had HUGE, ugly, sprawled out spots, and then a disaster on the other side of the fence. After the bending line he got to tossing his head a bit, I think because I had to re-balance him to get to the next line, a one-stride. He had no trouble with the one-stride, although when we did it from a trot I made sure to ride in with a strong trot because others were having trouble making the distance. He did great. The turn to the final fence was hard - I used a lot of outside leg but he still tended to drift left, which is also a problem we have on the flat. He also tends to jump a bit left of center, and, as Vanessa put it, "drop his left shoulder." I'm not sure exactly what this means and I don't have any pictures of us, so I really can't tell. Something to ask about later.

I felt pretty solid in my ride, and concentrated on keeping my leg under me (it felt out in front, but it didn't feel like it was slipping). I have a tendency to duck a bit over the fences, especially when I'm going for a particular lead, and I need to be careful about that. Otherwise, we only had a few really crappy fences where I just threw him at it - and he jumped it like I threw him at it. Yikes. Well, at least he lets me know when I'm doing a bad job riding!

It looks like I won't be able to ride again till Friday, and I'm considering going XC schooling on Saturday with the crew from the barn. Sunday I think I have a dressage lesson with Carol (the saddle fitter), and it looks like I may also be able to get a regular dressage instructor out on a weekly basis starting next Wednesday! Things seem to be shaping up a bit for the fall - and about time too, our first show is in 27 days. Yikes! I'd better start thinking about sending in my entries!

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