Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lesson With Kim - Transitions, Transitions, Transitions!

Since I last wrote, Ringo and I have been slowly and carefully working on trying to renormalize him in our arena, with moderate success. I can now do a full ride with him and actually work on things, whereas before I was 100% focused on just not dying and making it around the perimeter of the arena, but he still insists on giving the hairy eyeball to a couple things on the edge of the arena every single time we pass them. Per Mikaela's advice in the comments of my last post, we had the vet come out to draw blood for a Lyme test, just in case. Hopefully we'll have some answers soon!

In the meantime, we took a break from the Arena Of Death yesterday to over to the indoor down the road to have another lesson with Kim. In classic mystifying Ringo form, even though this would be a much more legitimate situation to be spooky in (being in a newer, stranger place, etc), he didn't care at all and was a total gem. Weirdo.

We started off with recapping our awesome Bronze Medal weekend to Kim and sharing out tests with her to look over. She was very complimentary (especially for the 8.5 we got on one of our changes!! Wahoo!!), but also picked up right away on some continuing trends in both tests that we could work on: namely, the quality of the trot, transitions in and out of the medium and extended trot, and transitions in and out of the shoulder in.

(Ringo's canter scores, complete with an 8.5 for our x2 coefficient flying change! The 6.5 is the transition back to trot -- clearly the canter is our speciality! What else would you expect from a horse and rider who both grew up more interested in galloping and jumping than tracing pretty figures in the sand?)

I brought up the feeling of Ringo being behind my leg, and Kim agreed that that was a likely culprit for why we struggle with the medium/extended and lateral work especially. If he's not really in front of my leg, I don't have the medium or extended "sitting in my back pocket," ready to pull out whenever I want it, and he's more likely to be stiff in a way that would show up in lateral work like the shoulder in.

So to start, Kim had us do some very crisp trot-walk-trot transitions:

My first instinct was to try to ease into the walk and then ease back into the trot again to make everything smooth: wrong! While perhaps a steadier approach, transitions like that weren't going to actually achieve the purpose of getting him sharper off my aids. Instead, Kim wanted him to come RIGHT back to walk and then IMMEDIATELY back into a bright, active trot, with no muddle steps in between. It was surprisingly hard! 

At some points, Kim had us add in some medium trot feeling on the circle as well to really get him cooking with gas:

In the medium trot, the focus for me was all on my hands: keeping them low and together with thumbs on top (no piano hands!!! A terrible habit I've picked up recently!!) and following forward--NOT pulling against him and shortening him! It was a hard habit to break, but the difference when I could manage it was big.

Once he was feeling more in front of my leg, the quality of his trot immediately became markedly better. I was able to slow him down and have him become more cadenced and floaty, instead of just inactive and shuffly like he usually does when I try to bring him back. We brought this new trot into some shoulder-in work, with the focus for me on smoothly transitioning from a 10m trot circle into the shoulder-in with no awkward adjustment period in between.

When we got it, it was awesome!

After a little break, we moved on to a little canter. Kim was impressed on the change in Ringo's canter even in the last two weeks: between all the spooking, I've really been working on the homework she gave me, and so was tickled that it showed! Ringo's more collected canter feels so powerful and effortless that I feel like I could float along forever: it's addictive. (Not quite as fun as galloping or jumping a perfect jump, but definitely the closest thing I've felt since transitioning to dressage!)

We worked on a little half pass, which, for video purposes, was mostly just a chance to show off how I'd sweated all the way through my shirt:


As it usually goes with me, just as I'm building some momentum, I've got to take a break for some reason. Now is just one of those times, as tomorrow I'm leaving for six weeks in California. I'll be working as a Teaching Assistant at a summer program at Stanford, catching up with friends, taking tons of photographs... and not doing a lot of riding. D'oh!

Oh well. Ringo will have a capable temporary jockey in my Pa, and hopefully I'll get a chance to swing a leg over a horse at least once while I'm out West. We're probably done competing for the year, so it will be a nice change of pace before we buckle down for a winter for working towards 4th Level!


Niamh said...

As if you're not going to ride out west!! Pffffft!

That collected canter looks super addictive!

Mikaela Coston said...

Awww you make me feel important! I love all the videos and since I can't find anyone in Oklahoma who doesn't ride in a western saddle my lessons are slim to none so I love watching yours and stealing the exercises!

Give the ponies lots of coookies for me! And esp. Dually bc he'll always be my favorite - hehe :)

Suzie said...

Hey, not that I'm as good as you, but I noticed fairly consistently you are collapsed on your left side. Just something to look for... I may be making stuff up though. That may be limiting Ringo's ability to stay over his back and forwardly supple if you are imbalanced on him...

Katherine Erickson said...

Niamh, SO ADDICTIVE, haha. Like, I have to remind myself to give me and Ringo a break, because otherwise I would try to just canter all ride. Whoops.

Mikaela, I'm glad I could help, even if it's just a little bit :) and I definitely will, though Dually probably doesn't need any treats at the moment -- he's quite fat!

Suzie, you're totally correct. I didn't write about being collapsed to the left this time around but have written about it many times in the past (including at my last Kim lesson I had), so it's definitely on the radar. I think it actually comes from the fact that my right side is much weaker, and so in my attempt to get equal use out of it I tend to get very high and stiff on that side, forcing my left side down. In this video I was actually consciously straightening my shoulders/body out every 30 seconds or so (maybe a little sad to admit, as it doesn't really show!), so I've definitely still got a long way to go to getting straight. Hope you and the gang are well - I miss you!

Suzie said...

I miss you, too. :( Ponies are doing really well. Yves just started a big kid program after being out for 3 months, so that has been a ton of fun. I even signed up for a clinic on him at the end of September, so hopefully we won't embarrass each other...

Kate said...

I have been sweating through my shirt regularly this summer. Even my shirts that normally don't show sweat spots look disgusting by the time I get home. Is it hotter or am I just fatter?

Ringo looks great - I think he's just keeping you guessing with all this spooking nonsense ;)

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