March 31, 2009

Queen of canter

"Thousands of years ago, man tamed the horse, and as a result, we experience thrills and pleasures that few advances in technology have been able to duplicate"

"We never reach our goals in riding. Riding is like shooting a moving target, and if, and when, we hit the bull's eye, the thrills are incredible"
(Charles de Kunffy)

I love to train with my horse.
Most of the days things are working OK, with some ups and some downs.
Some days things are not working at all.
But SOME days, SOME days I dance with my horse.
Yesterday was one of those days .

I get all warm inside just by thinking of it.

Monday is my fun-day as I have my dressage lessons.
I am so happy for our instructor.
She is knowledgeable, explains things well, is sympathetic and pushes me a bit - just enough.
I need someone to help me strech our comfort zone.

Already from the start of the lesson Fame felt good.
She can tense up a bit, but yesterday she was all soft and with me from the beginning.

My instructor explained that the task for the day was to work with canter-walk-counter canter on the circle.
We agreed that in the counter canter Fame sometimes can get a bit fast and long, and that she is strong enough now to maintain the round form and keep the rythm, I just have to sit and collect a bit more.
She also said that we are now approaching the time to start with flying changes.
(I am not sure that I was totally with her there, but - we need someone to push us!)

So we started the work.
And this evening my racing queen from last week had metamorphosed into the queen of dressage canter.
I just sat there working with a huge grin on my face.
I don't know if it was the treat sessions from last week or what, but she was round and balanced, collected well, took right lead every time and with good canter departs.

The transitions canter-walk went well, transistions counter canter-walk was balanced but not always straight to walk. I have to perfect my aids there.

At the end Ingrid thought we should try a flying change.
My grin disappeared.
I haven't done them since I retired my old gelding, and that is 7 years ago.
I felt rusty to put it mild.
We first did half pass canter and then tried to place the change when returning to the track.
Fame kept the counter canter.
(Yepp, I am a good girl, and know what I am to do even if Mum does some stupid things up in the saddle. I'll just keep my balance here and maybe some treats are showing up in the end.)

So we changed tactics and tried from counter canter on the circle instead.
And we almost got it. A step of trot in between, but the change was clean.
And lo and behold. A carrot piece appeared. Or two.
(Might actually have been three, when I think about it.)

Salinero? Satchmo? Who's that?? This is just THE best horse in the world! Period.
A totally unbiassed conclusion from the happy owner


RuckusButt said...

I love the feeling of having something "click" like that. I've really only had a few since being back in lessons for the last year but they put that smile on my face every time.

I love how you balance your rides - schooling, lessons and hacks - I bet Fame loves it too!

Between you and mugwump I am having major backyard envy!

Irene said...

Dessa dagar när allting funkar får man bevara i sitt minne! Fantastiskt duktigt med bytena, det är jättesvårt! Jag nästan bävar tills vi ska börja...

HorseOfCourse said...

Thank you RuckusButt and Irene!
I get happy as a child on those occations when things really work out, and I don't touch the ground for several days, lol!
Then it's back to normal again, I know that - but that makes me cherish it even more.
Dressage is a sport that really demands patience.
I am basically not a patient person, so it's good training for me!

stillearning said...

Do you have any warnings about using treasts-as-rewards, like only once in a great while, or ok on a fairly regular basis, but ask for more before treating? I'm experimenting with this (started with today's ride) and would love to avoid obvious (to you) pitfalls that I didn't think of.
I'll let you know how it works, but just the tiny bit today got a wonderful result. Very interesting.

HorseOfCourse said...

Hi stillearning!
I actually have just experimented a bit, so there are problably more scientific ways of doing it than the way I am working!
But my experiences are as follows:
1) Use a treat as a reward for something that you want, not just a treat to be nice. Make the horse work for it!
2) Important: Always cue with your voice together with the treat. In that way you can be more specific about the moment when the desired behaviour happens. You can also, after a time, reward just with the voice and then you don't need to treat every time. It can be a "Good Boy" or whatever sound that comes natural to you.
3) When I start to learn something, it's a treat every time Fame does right. Then it's just the cue-word, and we save the treats to next exercise. She has to work a bit more...
I read another interesting thing a while ago. It concerned dogs that wait at the table for tibits. It seemed as if the dogs that were randomly given something kept their behavior longer when it stopped than those who were given everytime, and then it stopped.'
So what does that implicate?
The animal that is given something sporadic keeps his attention span longer than the one who is always given something. Interesting.