Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To hold or not to hold?

That is the question.

I had a jumping lesson with Amy yesterday and I asked her about what Mike had said about holding so much in both dressage and jumping.

She said that in the dressage, she does need to be in that more up frame, but with her topline sticking out and more relaxed. In the jumping, there are times when to hold and times when not to hold. I wholeheartedly agree with her as I had thought that Mike tends to "manhandle" his horses a bit and be a little too aggressive. Also, he has the skill to be able to really release over the fence while I am just starting to learn to be able to hold to the base and then give over the fence. As Amy put it, "she has to be in control of her feet". I feel like we're on the same page.

My lesson went well. We started by trotting and cantering over the canter poles. First we went for the three stride and then the four. The four of course was much harder to get, but I felt like she's actually starting to try for me now and it came a lot quicker than it used to.

The first jumping part was a line of verticals (maybe 6 or so) and we trotted in and the jumps were a stride apart each. She made us do it with no stirrups for two times and then she raised the jumps, going from smallest to largest (maybe 3'6" or so in the back). May was good, but I needed to really bring my shoulders back. Next, she had us angle each individual jump and then rollback to the next one. This was harder, of course, but I still felt like we did well. May was really starting to catch on to the excersize. However, I needed to sit up and make it "uglier". I needed to use my outside counterbend instead of just pulling on the inside rein and having her shoulder pop out. Just more stuff to work on...

Today I have a dressage lesson and I'm going to talk to Carolyn about what Mike and Tiffani had said about May's frame. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Young Riders Camp Overview

So I got back from Young Rider's camp on Friday and all in all it was a good experience. It was hot, certainly, but with the air-conditioned trailer and the kiddie pool we brought, it wasn't unbearable.

The camp was at Pine Top Farm in Georgia. The first day, Sunday, we came in and got everything situated with the horses and the trailer. We tried to meet some of the other young riders. The girls next to us were very quiet and a little stand-off-ish. But Olivia and I decided to make the best of it and we got excited about our schedules for the next four days. We would be riding in two different groups, but Rose and I were in the same group.

Monday - Bright and early Monday morning (7:30 to be exact) I was out warming May up. My first lesson was with Mike Winter in dressage. There were three of us in the lesso and he taught us individually, leaving me for last since he said I had the least problems. When we did start working, he said that May's problem was engagement of the hindquarters. Basically, she's too lazy to work her hind end. So to help this, he had me take more of a hold of her mouth instead of wiggling the bit around and he wanted me to collect and go forward, collect and go forward, collect and go forward. We did this at the trot and the canter as well as with transitions. May wants me to let go of the bit and have me just leave her alone and be in a false frame, whereas Mike got me to really go after her and push her into a more advanced frame.

Tuesday - Tuesday morning I had another dressage lesson with Mike. We worked on the same thing and he said that when I got a flash, we could be doing some very good work. He also complimented me for my good seat, which if anyone knows May, they know that her trot is terrible to sit and somehow I've gotten used to it. So all in all, I was very excited with the whole lesson.
In the afternoon, I had a show jumping lesson with Hilda Donahue. She is absolutely the cutest woman I have ever met. First, we did a small crossrail trot in to 7 strides out over a pole. It took me two times to get it, but it happened. I had to really sit up and make her trot tiny to the crossrail. Then she set it up as a vertical to oxer going the other way and we had to get it in six, which we did. Then it was the oxer to vertical in six, a left turn to a bending line in six and a right turn to a vertical to skinny in seven. The whole course was a little messy and not quite what I wanted. She was pretty reluctant to compacting her stride, especially going on the downhill. We got a chance to fix it though, and the second time through the bending line went a lot better. Then she had us go in a circle over four very small verticles. Going to the left was pretty good, but I still had problems getting her to leave at the right spot and not leave long. Going to the right was much more difficult and we didn't even make it the entire way around the circle without having to stop or go around a fence.

Wednesday - Wednesday morning I had a dressage lesson with Tiffanie Loudon. She taught more like Carolyn does, wanting May's topline to bulge out and her underneck to suck in. She wanted a longer frame and a looser, more supple horse. She had us do leg yields on a small circle to change directions because I was just pulling on the inside rein to go either direction and May was leaning. Then she had us canter and spiral in and out of a smaller circle to get May to be more balanced. She really tried to get me to use my seat and legs to sit down on May. I wish I could have done a better job on this, but I felt really tired by this point.
Wednesday afternoon I had a show jumping lesson with Kyle Carter and it was one of the worst rides of my life. Before the lesson, May acted like she was barn sour and kept pawing and rooting on the bit. At one point while we were in the ring, I had halted her and was about to go forward when she reared up and I slipped off her back and landed on my feet. Rearing is highly unusual for her, so I knew something was wrong. We continued on the lesson and she just would not listen. She completely blew me off every time I asked her to come back to me and her canter just grew bigger and bigger. Kyle said that she acted like an uneducated horse and he was worried about her (meaning her jumping, I assume). Which I can't blame him for his comments because she certainly acted uneducated. She just threw her feet up and jumped and she was thinking or listening to me. I was really worried for cross country the next day

Thursday - Thursday morning we had cross country with Mike. We started off cantering, going forward and coming back. May was actually listening to me and Mike was pleased with how well she came back in the beginning. We jumped a beginner novice jump, then galloped up to a novice jump, turned around and jumped the novice bank backwords, and then turned right and jumped the training bank. The most trouble we had was with the novice bank because she wanted to leave too far out. Mike wanted me to really hold her to the base. We also did a couple more courses, adding in a training/prelim jump and two strides to barrels that he set up and we did the prelim bank, which is a bank up, one stride, to a jump and then canter off. Mike said that we would be winning at training, but if I can't get her to take off at a close spot then we'd have a lot of trouble at prelim. I was very pleased with her, however, especially since she had been so terrible the day before.

It was a really great experience and now I'm back at work, being bored!