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We get to test our work!

February 27, 2012

Sunday both April and I rode in a schooling show. I did I1 and April did PSG. Our trainer the Great Jim K, felt that we needed to get out and show our new skills to a knowlegeble person and have them assessed so so off we went.

We have been working on getting X rounder and more consistently on the bit, so that I can put a leg on and get a forward response without him lifting his head and tensing his back. It does seem to have worked. he stayed rounder and softer, I got a forward trot, which Halleluja! I was able to sit! He didn’t drop his shoulders in the flying changes so his right hind came through properly. No late changes or short stepping ones even in the two tempis. I still can’t sit the extended trot but I can now sit his collected and some of the medium. I did ride backwards in the right pirrouette and let him get out of rythmn, but otherwise we were pretty respectable. Even April said so.

On the bit is such a poor phrase for it, it’s the back and the tension of the back and neck muscles which need to be soft and loose, it really hasn’t anything to do with the bit!

April rode Levi who did not have a good day.We knew we were in trouble when he refused an apple treat! He broke away when unloaded and did a tour of the parking lot! Thankfully there were only a few trailers in it! Then he warmed up fine, but as soon as he went into the arena he decided that ALL the letters were just too scary! I mean seriously, how many dressage letter has this horse seen in his life! They battled on and finally finished. Oh well there will be other shows.

It’s down to our final week. We go home a week from today.
I have really enjoyed it, and I have learned so much. My horse is going so much better, I have made new friends and reconnected with old ones. But it is time to go home. I can feel it.

It’s getting warm down here and I do not enjoy heat, plus the the things I need to do are piling up at home. But I am very glad we came.
Hopefully I’ll get to return next year.

All the worlds a stage…..

February 15, 2012

A good friend came down from Orlando to West Palm to visit me and to watch us train. What a weekend, on Saturday we went and watched Jim in the High Performance Dressage clinic, Eye opening to see such minutae of detail in the corrections. Then we went to the Jim Brandon Center to watch the afternoon GP classes in the show. Sat night we went to WEF and watched part of the Showjumping GP, a class of 80 competing for a purse of $125k!
Sunday she watched my lesson with Jim. Then we had the choice of another HP session with Jim riding or we could go and watch a Polo Match at the Polo Grounds.
Now where else in the World can you watch GP dressage and Jumpers, and Polo all withing a 20 mile radius? That’s part of the charm of South Florida, all this high level horse stuff going on so close by!

Quote of the week;
Today X and rode through the I1 test, we didn’t do too badly, so Koford decides that we need to work on the 1 tempi’s. Well I couldn’t ride a line of 1 tempi’s to save my life. Huffing and puffing and kicking like mad, I finally got 2 lines of 3 X 1 but barely got that. “Oh Boy” says I, “we really have some work to do”. Says Koford “Xavoy and I are doing just fine, YOU have lots of work to do”… Uh huh! Oh well.

Ruminations on the GP work

February 14, 2012

There’s nothing like being able to go and watch riders who are expert, riding at the level you are struggling to attain. We work at something and I make a complete hash of it, so Jim sends us off to the shows to watch the top riders doing it, I see how smoothly they perform what ever it is that I struggling with and a light bulb goes off! Ah ha, that’s how it should look. One of the most beneficial aspects of the extended time in So Fl training, is that you can every weekend go to a show, in less than an hours drive, and watch really good riders doing the exercises.
And then you get to come home and work at them yourself, with such short period of time between exposure and practice there is a greater possibility that you retain the information and can actually put it to use.
Plus it helps no end that Jim is riding at GP everyday on 2 horses and there are others all at or above my level so that I get to watch better riders than I, doing what I need to learn to do. They say the best way to improve is to be the worst rider in the barn! Well it sure fits for me here!

One thing that I come to appreciate is the sheer hard work for both horse and rider in generating a performance at this level. No wonder so many do not make it this far. The sheer work load to get strong enough to carry means that some horses are just not strong enough or sound enough to be able to do this level of work day after day, and over and over.
GP horses are not always pretty, but they always have a fantastic work ethic and are so willing to put out such an effort. This is truly not an art for a weekend rider. Even a good workout leaves you drained and weak. Euphoric, but weak!

One thing you have to do is to schedule enough down time for the horses. We do trail rides and walks at least twice a week. turn out is limited and not the best, but they have to have the relaxation both mental and physical or it is to easy to burn them out. Fortunately the facility we are at has a lot of trail riding available.

And the training goes on……

Well we experienced a true tropical rainstorm here in So Fl! The sky opened up and water just came out of it! But it didn’t get too cold, down to the 50’s, which is cold enough when it’s wet believe me. The horses weathered it well, though the return of the sun after the rain and it felt like a sauna! the fungus goes rampant once that happens to everyone is getting anti-fungal baths. But still some escapes us!

Though it drains pretty quickly after the rain, we used the puddles to work on passage! Nothing like trotting through a puddle to get that lift and push!
The next couple of days were windy and cold, and boy did the horses feel fresh after the heat and muggyness. They were bouncing and full of it.
It’s great to have that energy and go, but their backs are tight and it takes a lot of time at stretching in the warm up to get them swinging and soft. However once you do, you get some great work.
X and I got some 3 X1’s, I did leave the saddle a good bit though, way too much air time for my peace of mind.
X has to learn not to such big changes when doing 1 tempi’s, he really jumps up in the changes and that makes it hard to sit and ask for the next one. But we are getting stronger and stronger. We got a pretty reasonable piaffe and on the centerline as well. Passage is still a work in progress, but every now and then we get some good steps.
I was practicing the half pass from the GP, boy that is one steep HP. corner letter to E or B and then back all the way across the arena to the other corner, it’s a long way across there sometimes.
We are also practicing the pirrouettes on the centerline, that really makes you aware of how tight and small they have to be.

One thing that really helps is having the mirrors across the short end to look in and see how far you have drifted off the CL!

The mirrors are good for seeing if you sit straight as well!
all for now, more soon.

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