|December 9, 2009||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
I have some great posts coming up, including a book review and a product review on a dead animal cart. However, at work I’ve been in crisis mode this week so in my unable-to-focus-state-of-mind, I don’t feel like posting a comprehensive post on ANY subject. I’m also feeling remarkably uncreative and un-funny.
Random Thought #1 – I love National Velvet
Last night I watched National Velvet. For the very first time. It was WONDERFUL. This was probably the only horse book I did not read as a child. I tried once, in elementary school (4th or 5th grade) and could not get into it. I went back to my Zane Grey, Black Stallion, and Black Beauty and haven’t thought of it since. I also, as a rule do NOT watch horse movies based on books. I’ve never seen Black Beauty, I’ve never seen Black Stallion. I picked it up on impulse from the library and sat down for a movie and knitting last night. I don’t even know what to say – the believable characters, how it’s free of contrived romances, how I put down my knitting to watch one of the most realistic/raw/incredible horse performance scenes I’ve ever seen in a film production……if you haven’t seen it, it is a must see.
I even gave myself permission to cry from happiness/elation if my little heart so desired during the horse competition scenes (what is it with horses and how they can play with my emotions so?). THAT’S how good this movie was (and no – I was not moved to tears).
Random Thought #2 – Doing my homework
My trainer always remarks every week how much Farley improves from the previous week. She’ll usually ask me to do something we worked on last week and then says “Wow – that was really good!” My response is always “I do my homework!”. Because seriously, when you pay a lot of $$$ for weekly lessons for anything, you should PRACTICE. I taught beginner violin lessons for a while in college. Trust me – I can tell when you practice or not, even if you are talented and improve without it. I promised myself that if I ever took lessons for anything, I would put in the time.
Maybe it’s rare thing to be able to put in as much time during the week to practice dressage as I do? Because my trainer always seems so surprised at the improvement. Seriously – if you work on trot-walk-trot transitions in the lesson, it only makes sense to practice it during the next week. Because I don’t want to spend 3 straight lessons on the same thing. I want to progress! My horse wants to progress!
Random Thought #3 – Cantering lessons
This is related to thought #2. Last week at the lesson, we worked a bit on the canter. Farley had a very difficult time with picking up the left lead, and the transitions both up and down on both leads was VERY rough. I was told practice makes perfect.
I decided during the week that the arena was NOT the place to get both of us comfortable. For a horse that’s trying to learn balance at the canter, having to turn all the time in an arena seemed like a cruel joke. So I started doing 5 mile canters on the canal banks. Twice during the week we set out. After warming up at the walk, I asked for the canter. After a quarter mile, I asked for the other lead. And repeated for 5 miles. The canals are straightaways, so she had to learn to read my cues for what lead I wanted. Five miles was just enough to get her warm, but not sweaty.
When I arrived at my lesson today, I told my trainer what I had done. She seemed a bit dubious. But I know my horse! After working at the trot, my trainer asked for a right lead canter. Usually the first transition to a gait is complete crap. I took a deep breath, set up my cues for the right lead. Farley flicked a ear, and rose into the canter. I think my trainer was a bit shocked. 🙂 She said it was beautiful 6 (mean judge) or 7 (nice judge) canter transition. Uphill, round, obedient, were her exact words. 🙂 Then we tried the left lead. My trainer was saying something about grabbing the saddle blanket so that I did not push my weight the wrong way, when I gave a small smile and asked for the canter. Not as beautiful, a bit rushed, not round, but gosh-darn-it! We did it! Left lead on the very first try. She broke gait/we repeated 3 times. Each time she picked up the correct lead.
Good Pony! 🙂
My trainer was a bit ecstatic. Another month of work on that canter and I’ll be at show-ready training level. (My trainer doesn’t let her student show until they are doing solid 70’s in schooling, and will probably show in the solid 60’s).
Random Thought #4 – a Cantering tip
I’m going to be working on canter halt transitions to improve the canter-trot downward transition. I thought I would share! To do a canter-halt effectively, I’m suppose to drop my stirrups at the exact time I ask for the halt. That will bring my leg down, instead of forward and make the cue very clear. Just thought I would share in case it helps anyone else.
Random Thought #5 – Toklat woolback
On a whim I dragged out my woolback pad this week for the first time since I purchased my skito and haf pad. I’ve been using it for the canal rides. It’s still too thick to school or do dressage in, but it’s OK for trail work. I think it works better with the Solstice saddle, than it did with the wide-twist Duett. I think I wouldn’t buy a new one, but I would buy another used one, if it was a good deal. I like the skito for arena work because it’s close contact while still providing more protection than a square pad, but I probably wouldn’t purchase one for endurance again. I would buy my haf pad a million time over. I’m strictly using it for trail work and I LOVE it. I think it wears out faster than the wool underside pads, but it’s still worth it. I’m trying to decide if flat bumps underneath the saddle area means I need to replace it???? (the underside of haf pads are little synthetic bumps….) At the very least I would like a newer haf pad for rides and to use this one for conditioning…