Thursday, December 4, 2014

Food for thought: Groundview

I finally got to see someone else other than me ride Quest yesterday.

Last night's rough plan was to do a couple of the early exercises from the 101 Jumping book after lunging and groundwork. J and Nutmeg were already in the arena so being limited on space, we did the best we could. The early patterns in the book have a heavy focus on flat work with a ground pole or two thrown in. I appreciate the focus on good flat work, and while the patterns are incredibly simple they demand that a lot of the foundations be in place. While we nailed going over the pole at a steady pace at walk and trot, we need to work on getting our circles even more round. To help with that, I'm going to place a cone in the center so I have something to visually orient ourselves at first while we practice.

After patterns, I did a couple laps of cantering with Quest. J had been watching us for awhile and gushed over how comfortable she looked. I grinned and said, "You can hop on her if you'd like." "CAN I REALLY?" I got off and handed the reins over. I stood in the center with Nutmeg while I watched J work with my horse. J has taught lessons for years and she helped owned a horse ranch trail ride business at one point in her life. I knew Quest would be in good hands. I watched J put Quest through her paces- transitions, walk, trot, canter, circles, etc. It was interesting to see how my mare responded with someone different on board.

J noted that Quest was very smooth though she seemed to have a ton of unhappy ears. She suggested I talk to her more and give lots of praise (which I do, but I guess I'm not as talkative with her in front of others haha maybe subconsciously trying to slow the decent into horse-crazy girl insanity). She also gave me a couple pointers to think about:
  • Setting Quest up better for canter departures- This is something I really need to get more consistent about. When I set Quest up correctly, she feels great, balanced, and forward with that slight bend to the inside. When I don't, Quest shows her displeasure quite visibly with resistance though being the awesome mare that she is, she complies but everything feels all over the place. A big part of this is my new-ness to riding but I shouldn't forget that I am a RIDER and NOT a passenger. 
  • More rein contact- I prefer to ride with loose reins and light hands and while there is nothing entirely wrong with that, I understand the need to fine-tune that balance where there is some contact to support and communicate. Like canter departures, I've had my good and bad moments. If I do it right, it's most telling at the canter and I feel her balance nicely in my hands. The best visual analogy I've been able to find (I'm a very visual person when it comes to learning) was a shopping cart rolling on a slight downhill. The amount of weight should feel similar to that. 
I got back on one more after J hopped off to give her suggestions a try and while work is needed, I could start to feel a difference. The issue is not ignorance, it is consistency. I'm happy that I've been learning as fast as I have been but last night was a good reminder that I can't get complacent. I'm going to take these suggestions to heart and work on them during the winter on my own. Once the weather gets nicer, we're going to sign up for those lessons! Having a trainer on the ground will help us tremendously; it's the least I can do by becoming a better educated  and fair rider.


On a different note: Just a couple hours left before entries for my free art raffle close! Right now you have a 25% chance of winning haha

8 comments:

  1. I love 101 jumping exercises, one of my favorites!

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    1. It's such a good book, we've been eating it up! If you have suggestions for other intro jumping pattern books to use I'm all ears.

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  2. sounds like a great impromptu mini lesson from J! my trainer is drilling me on transitions too, saying: 'don't transition until your current gait is exactly how you want it'.. also re: circles, my bio-mechancis trainer sets cones on 4 points and it's super helpful lol

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    1. Before I was learning how to canter but I think I've gotten to where I need to take more responsibility for myself instead of letting Quest let me blunder along haha

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  3. I love how tuned in you are to every little thing. I know you're relatively new to riding compared to many, but wow, I would never guess it from your observations about Quest (and horses in general) and your observations about riding/training. Your attention to training details and behavioral slights is so admirable and is definitely an amazing quality to have as an equestrian! That's a lucky mare to have fallen into your care!

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    1. Aww you're making me grin from ear to ear, Liz! I'm trying hard to do right by her, that's the bottom line. The community here has helped me learn so much and this is a huge reason why I continue to blog- I want to keep learning from people who have done it all (:

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  4. Ha, I am the same as you in that I don't talk to my horse a lot when other folks are around because I feel a bit ridiculous. However, I do have noticed that B. responds very well to a bit of praise (combined with giving on the inside rein) and seems to try extra hard. So maybe I will have to get over my fear of sounding like a crazy horse lady. ;-)

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    1. Yup haha Quest is very much the same- a total praise junkie. She brightens right up with a quick pat and rub on the neck or a happy word.

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