Sunday, October 16, 2011

Continuing the update ...

As I sit here with the live footage from the USEF Medal finals minimized, I am reflecting on the journey I've had in horses so far in my life.  These kids spend THOUSANDS of dollars for this one chance to make it to this class, only to be eliminated at the first fence (2nd to last kid), or fall off (last kid).  In a way, I'm glad my entire junior life wasn't about horse-showing.  It's hard.  Just like making it big in the music industry (like a friend of ours is trying to do), "fame" is hard to come by.  I'm grateful for the experiences I've had.  I've shown in probably 15 horse shows TOTAL in my life, and I appreciate every one of them.  ANYWAY!

This week it rained a good bit.  Tiki had Monday and Tuesday off after his long Sunday working at the IEA show.  Nicole rode him on Wednesday, and he was a good boy.
Honorary Little Sis' recap of her ride

Thursday, I had a LESSON!  Woo Hoo!  It's been a fairly long time since I've had a dressage lesson from Susan, and it was about time!  I did NOT have high hopes.  For one, his last flat rides were less than stellar.  For another, he'd just had his fall shot booster the day before, and thirdly he had just had his feet done about 2 hours prior.  Walking around to warm up, he felt tight.  Susan noticed, and set up a slightly raised grid to get his hind end to unlock.  We trotted through it a few times, and it was hard to get him to be straight and NOT kick the poles.  He did pretty well with it, and by then he was looking a LITTLE better.  Trotted on a pretty small circle working on our transitions, and that was REALLY good.  By that time, he was starting to feel much looser and more willing to step underneath himself.  Susan was very complimentary of the homework we'd been doing, and was quite happy with his consistency through the bridle, yay!

We FINALLY got some quality instruction for our lateral work.  I have been dying to really work on that, but we've just never been truly ready for it.  I've been doing my shoulder in left perfectly, but the right one needed a little more work.  The leg yields, I tend to overbend.  We worked on straightening his body through those, and did an exercise where we leg yielded/straightened/leg yielded, back to the rail.  He was moving off my leg beautifully:)  Worked on collected canter, and by this point, my leg was just dying, ugh! I'd left my spurs at home (not on purpose), and started out with a dressage whip, but I tend to toss it down because I feel it just makes both of us stiff.  Her words, "pretend you're cantering around a tea cup!".  I got some LOVELY, balanced canter ... "one step just like the last!".

My hip flexors were numb at this point, but I was game to work on some haunches in.  He was pretty dead at this point as well, so the haunches in were pretty good because he was very non reactive off my leg by then.  We got several good steps, but it was FAR from perfect.  The best part of the lesson is the "light bulb moment" I got.  If you have followed this blog for a little bit, you'll know I've struggled with my downward transitions; keeping Tiki from hollowing out during them.  I stiffen my arms and brace against him too much, but when I use primarily seat, he pulls down hard on my hands and the transition is NOT good.  I know to "carry my hands".  I holler it at my students all the time.  I try to carry my hands.  But when Susan said to "float my hands" during the downward transitions, I did, and he kept his contact BEAUTIFULLY!  He didn't try to yank me down, he didn't show any attitude, he was LOVELY.  Love some lightbulbs:)

Friday, I'd planned to do some light "long and low", because I was SORE, and I figured Tiki could use a nice, stretchy ride before our xc lesson on Saturday.  Good thing I'd planned that because his left hind was swollen with a large scrape looking thing.  It was hot, nasty looking, and tight with fluid.  I trotted him out and he was sound, so I tacked him up in the cc saddle, the dressage bridle with no noseband, and no boots. He worked well; just lots of stretchy trot, some nice canter work, and that was it.  The leg looked slightly less puffy, but it was definitely still hot, so after untacking, I cold hosed for 12 minutes.  Gave him a full bath and tossed him in his stall.  Could not WAIT for Saturday!!!!!!!!

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