March 16, 2010

Where are we?

Spring is finally here.
The sun is once again giving us some warmth during daytime and the snow is decreasing, even if the temperature still drops quite low during night time.
It is daylight outside when I leave and come home from work. Marvellous!

A little more than a year has passed since I started the English part of my blogging life.

When looking back, I must confess that the last year has been a year where our progress in the dressage work has taken longer time than I had planned.
I suppose that comes down to me being an impatient person with a vivid interest of dressage, but sadly not with an ability to match my hopes.
Oh well, that’s the disadvantage of being an optimist.

So where are we, and what do we need to work on?

The last period I have been concentrating on getting Fame to relax and to stay supple.
She easily tenses up, and sometimes she also braces against the bit.

A large portion of the problem here has been me.
As always *sigh*

It is so easy to tense up as a rider when your horse is tense.
The task has been to keep my hands and arms flexible and soft, but to be stronger in my seat and mid section of the body.
Getting middle aged for sure doesn’t help.
I could very much need some extra training to strengthen my absent abdominal muscles, but I know that will stay on the to-do-list for a new and better life.
In this present one I have more than enough to keep family, work and horses afloat.

I need to keep working on strong body, soft hands.
I feel that I have had some aha-moments, and that I have a clearer perception of where I need to go.
Unfortunately that doesn’t equal getting there!

To help myself to improve my seat I will continue to ride bareback.

It is a very good help to get you balanced and centered, and also to get a better feel for your horse's movements.

I also have to focus on having Fame in front of the aids at all times, with an improved hind leg activity and contact to the bit.
I have to be clearer in what response I can accept, or not.
The demands on hind leg activity will be larger in the work to come.
We need to get there, but without any fuzz.
Pushing limits, but also making sure that she has the necessary strength and understands what I want.
Keeping her supple through the exercises, combined with a good contact and rythm are the main parameters.

In spite of all this, I can see that both Fame and I are stronger than we were a year ago.
We can keep the up-tempo work for a longer time without the need for the breaks that we needed a year ago.

As long as she is relaxed, the canter work is going well.
Extensions, collections, counter-canter.
As opposed to the situation a year ago, she is obedient and keeps her balance in the transitions.
If she is tense, she sometimes changes behind when I ask her to collect.
Again, I need to keep her supple at all times.

Shoulder-in works tolerably ok in all three gaits.
Still needs more work, but she is more stable and balanced than she was a year ago.
Sometimes we get the right floating feeling, but it is not consistent.

We have started with half-pass trot and canter, but they need more work.

We need to improve the trot work.
She gets too open in her form in the extensions, and we need in general to play around more with collection/extensions to improve elasticity.

I found out the hard way in the dressage show that we need to work on extended walk too.
Fame is talented with a good walk, but I normally walk her either with loose reins, or at a working walk, so again, my fault.
We should be able to get some extra points here with some more training.
Walk pirouettes need improvement too.

We have also been working quite a lot on the very important work with straightening, mainly with the help of counter shoulder-ins along the long sides of the arena (trot and canter), but also with counter-canter.
She is not stiff, more the flexible type who easily pops out here and there....
I very much miss mirrors when I ride. My perception of where she is (and where I am) is not necessarily where we are!

We have taken a good step forward compared with the situation in October, I know that.

I am able to handle her tenseness better, i. e. work through it and get her supple.
What we need now is more consistency in the work, to get her straighter and thus achieving more throughness in the work.
Sometimes we get there, and it’s such a wonderful feeling.

I want more!

Isn't a sleeping cat the cutest thing in the world?
Thanks again to my daughter for all the pics.


Anne i Hannover said...

Good idea with a retrospective post!

I often plan with a long perpective, but base my mood on the day-to-day disappointments or achievements, so looking back like this is important I think.

I often get frustrated with my german - I've been living here 18 months but still am not as fluent as I feel I should be, and the gramatic is just a wild guess. But looking back I see the improvement from my first months here!

Love the picture of the branches!

RuckusButt said...

I am glad you realized you have made progress after all. You've had quite a few things going on in your life this past year. And you still manage to progress and get to clinics and shows! I think that's pretty amazing.

The Odyssey Farm said...

It's the journey, not the destination. But you are getting there and you will get there. :)

stilllearning said...

Learning dressage is a slow, sometimes frustrating journey, isn't it? I hope your optimism has resurfaced after reflecting on your progress. Sometimes in the day-to-day work it seems like you're not getting anywhere, when you're actually making steady progress in your work.

As "Odyssey" said, it's the journey, not the destination. Some "miles" are more fun than others. Enjoy the trip!

Btw, on your recomendation I'm re-reading Mary Wanless' books and finding many helpful things I'd forgotten. Thanks.

Merri said...

I want more too! (in endurance riding). Every ride is an opportunity to improve the communication (or lack of!) with the horse I'm riding. I just hope I get to do more rides!
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Once Upon an Equine said...

My compliments to your daughter on the beautiful pictures. I love the perspective through the tree branches.

You have great goals and I'm sure you and Fame will keep getting better and better. Whew...dressage sounds hard.

jme said...

spring always seems like the perfect time to take stock of the last year and prepare for the work ahead! it sounds like you have made some great progress in the big picture (i don't think any of us totally meet our optimistic expectations, but i think we can be happy with any movement in the right direction!) and it sounds like you have some good goals to proceed with. good luck to both of you!

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your comments all!

I am basically an impatient person, and my hubby always wonders why I ended with the very patience-requiring sport of dressage, LOL!

Yes, it's all about the journey. Thing is that the journey will not be over when this person is leaving it. It is getting longer by the day.
As Charles de Kunffy said: Riders die ignorant.

Once Upon an Equine said...

I know you just received this award so no need to play. Just want you to know I linked to you from my blog. You are a Beautiful Blogger and I was surprised to read that you've been doing your English blog for just over a year. Great job!
I linked to you at this post:

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks a lot, Once Upon!

The Odyssey Farm said...

We dressage riders are a bunch of masochists, aren't we! I just read somewhere - don't measure your progress to where you want to be but from where you started. I am sure you and Fame have progressed significantly over the last year, but day to day it is hard to see the difference.