Thursday, January 29, 2009

Progress and frustration

Today was my first ride in a week due to the weather being freaking cold and icy. One day was so icy I had to have the barn owner feed the horse for me!

Our ride today was good. I say that with some reservation because I am a bit frustrated with my self. I really know that Boomer is capable of much more and he is learning so fast. I really want to continue to train him to the best of my ability, but I'm afraid my ability is somewhat limiting. I have recently become fascinated with Dressage, the biomechanics of horse and rider, the subtleties of cues and responses. It is all just so fascinating. Yet, I know nothing about it.

We have been working on the turn on the forehand and haunches. He knows these. He does get a bit frustrated at first and try to go back or forward but as soon as he understands what I am asking, he does it with purpose. Same for the leg yield.

Today we progressed to leg yielding across the whole arena. To the right he can go from corner to corner. To left he can go from center line to corner. Going left seems to be his weak side for that. Although, it is totally possible that it is MY weak side which is cueing him incorrectly.

I also introduced the half-halt. We walked a circle and I stopped him at two points at the top and bottom of the circle. We did this about 5-6 times before he started to anticipate the stop. As soon as I started to ask him to stop (sit deep, close hands), and I could feel him hesitate in preperation for the halt, I squeezed him foreward so that there was just a moment of 'hang time' rather than a halt. That was a really good exercise.

The exercise that frustrated me was this. (I know, one out of four exercises in an hour long ride shouldn't frustrate me) I started on a circle trotting. The first step is to bump my inside leg at the girth in rhythm with his inside hind leg raising to encourage him to step further under himself. (got it) Next step was to massage the inside rein until he flexed in. (no clue, he was already nicely bent, were we supposed to have more flexion? I couldn't really feel any outside rein contact) Last step is to add the outside leg slightly behind the girth, no squeezing, just there. That is supposed to encourage him hind end under him. (we lost it when I added the outside leg). End result should be to have him driving his hocks under himself and staying balanced on the circle. As soon as I started to get frustrated, I quit because I didn't want to transfer the frustration to him. I SHOULD have broken it down and only done one step at a time with breaks in between until he understood what I wanted. The first step felt great once he got it. And he KNOWS how to react to my outside leg on a circle. He is usually great at that. I think the problem is that I don't properly know how to use my hands. I have soft hands from years of riding sensitive Arabians and most horses appreciate it, but I don't really know what to do with them.

So, I have been scoping out dressage trainers. I don't think it is fair to Boomer to flounder like this. He is progressing so quickly, I want him to stay interested in learning. I would havet for him to get bored or hit a brick wall because I have nothing else to teach him. Of course, I would enjoy lessons too. I love lessons! I relish the thought of getting to learn a WHOLE NEW riding discipline! My dad sent me a very generous check for my birthday so I think I will save it to use on riding lessons sometime in the future!

Alright, the weather is supposed to be FABULOUS this weekend, so I should have lots to blog about. For now, it is off to class!

No comments: