Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dressage boot camp

I'm sexy and I know it!  Or maybe embarrassed, not sure!
Isn't this silly thing hysterical???

This week has been dressage boot camp!  3 straight days of dressage, 3 days of different and distinct exercises!  I always worry I'll get a little stale and just wander aimlessly, but luckily I always seem to figure out things to do to improve Tiki:)

Wednesday I added in some shoulder-in.  I worked it at the walk, which I really don't do all that much.  I tend to do a lot of s-i at the trot.  He felt really good that day.  I guess it helped that I myself felt really good as well and I know I wasn't transferring any sort of tension or anything to him.  I worked on the centerline, trying to get him to relax as he approached the end and not get so stiff.  Also did a bunch of serpentine loops.  Pulled off a lovely counter canter both directions and got some GREAT, soft halts on the contact!  I remembered my dressage test has the 20m canter circle off to the side, so I practiced that some as well.  He was lovely, lovely, lovely:)

Today, I vowed to spend as LITTLE time as possible going on the rail.  I did reverse across diagonal, reverse through center serpentine loop, rinse, repeat.  Threw in tons of circles, both big and small.  I did the "thread the needle" exercise with the half turn-in reverse and LOTS of transitions.  TONS of transitions.  He now is very steady and round during upward transitions and getting much more correct and on the bit in the downwards.  He's stopped pulling me down to the ground so much when I walk/halt.  Gee, go figure ... a week of practicing, and he is SO much better trotting down the centerline and making that right hand turn.  Also, our center serpentine loop felt GREAT.  SO much better than Tuesday it's crazy!   Did the halt/canter transition on both leads and that was really nice; did w to c, then halt/w to trot so he wouldn't anticipate it.  

MY HORSE WILL NOW WALK ON CONTACT, EVEN AFTER TROTTING AND CANTERING AND RELAXING ON A LOOSE REIN!  This is HUGE.  My blog rants and raves for 3 1/2 years about how Tiki will NOT walk on contact, and now here he is ... 8 years old, nearly 4 years in my possession, and he can walk on contact, woo hoo!!!

I confirmed (and so did honorary little sis Nicole) that the HS D-ring is indeed "eventing dressage" legal for our horse trial, which means I am using it.  Is it perfect and is Tiki perfect in it?  No.  Is it pretty darn good and does he like it well enough to flex pretty nicely in it?  Yes.  I feel pretty solid about the dressage test, I feel good that stadium is before xc, and I've been going back and watching old videos of us to try and improve.  Taking Tiki and Sparky to PWF probably on Tuesday to ride after Janet's lessons so Nicole and I can kick each other's butts. I plan to flat and warm up in the covered over a crossrail, oxer, and vertical then head up to the big ring to jump a course at 3'.  I know the May-Daze course will not be maxed out fully, so I have a bit of confidence there.  I used an ear net Wed and today, and I think that helps Muffin focus and not shake his head so much.  I think that "back then", when he'd shake his head and jump up every time a car drove by the pasture we were working in, he felt secure and more relaxed when I muffled his ears with an ear net.  I believe he associates the ear net to calming down a little bit.  I plan to ask the steward if we can perform our dressage test with one.  If not, I will DEFINITELY use one for both jumping phases, maybe even with ear plugs.  

Tomorrow I will do trot sets around HIS pasture, not the front one we normally do them in.  Even though I haven't tortured ourselves  done trot sets lately, I need a change of scenery!;)

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