Thursday, March 5, 2015

Oh basics

So I had a lesson.  It was one of those where you go in thinking about shows and the future and come out thinking, 'damn you poles on the ground.'
There is no media proof of said lesson (and anyways who wants to see us trotting poles and poles and poles)...does that mean it didn't happen?  Instead you get random photos and video that I hadn't had a chance to share yet.
But first the course
All of those poles had standards next to them too, they were set for canter strides or for two trot steps between each pole.  We pulled in and I thought to myself, must be footwork day, no scope tests, sad face.  Yeah, yeah I know if we want to jump the big jumps we have to put in the work, but this is my blog and I felt whiny.  Bleh.  Anyways first off let me say yay trainer is home (that is whose rig and horses I drove home from Arizona), she kicks my butt and doesn't settle for mediocre riding.  She asked what sticking points I've had while we waited for the other people to finish warming up.  I said our trot to walk to halt transitions are stiff and dump on the forehand.  So she had me do some so she could watch and just encouraged me to only settle for straight and uphill, as soon as he starts to lean it is back to the trot until he can go to the walk in balance.
He says, 'why no jumps?'
Then we all stood around and discussed balance and lead changes and all sorts of theory, seriously it could be its own post.  Highlight?  We were again with the group of more experienced horses and she was talking about each of our issues with changes and when she pointed to Prisoner she just smiled and said he already did them.  Booyah...but not for long.
His reaction to poles on the ground
 We then split into pairs and did this leg yielding and straightness exercise that looked like this:
Man I'm good at art
The dotted lines are the leg parts and the solid lines are the turning parts.  The really crazy longer solid lines are the making sure Prisoner's baby brain doesn't get blown parts.  He has actually been starting to leg yield here and there really well, but a whole exercise based on it was a challenge.  The theory behind it is that you come in on one lead, yield in that direction and then change leads at the change from dots to solid, all while staying really straight.  The idea is that you don't have to throw your body to get the change, it helped the dressage person in me to overrule the jumping person in me who sometimes flings her body around to get leads.  Thing is we never got to the exercise in the canter we did it in the walk and trot, but with five horses of various skill level and 5 riders with various skill levels it was a bit of a cluster. I did get some awesome lateral work and some really great trot.
Sharing his opinion on footwork
 Finally we moved on to trotting all the poles.  We would start on the right hand side, trot through, circle, trot next set, and so on.
Lines possibly on par with my steering
Welp, in typical Prisoner fashion we floundered our way through the first time, trot, trot, canter, leap, wheee!  Not in the lesson plan.  See the thing is, the beautiful trot we had during all the warm up evaporated when we saw the poles and went back to our old up/down trot (notice I said we there, I'm pretty sure we are both guilty of being overly pumped for jumps).  Without enough impulsion into the poles he gets worried and speeds up and I pull against him and then we fail at poles.  So off we went to fix the trot and then over one pole a few times and then back through, it worked!

Refusing to look until the jumps go up
The biggest takeaway was that I really need to stay balanced in my body right over his core so that he can't use me as an excuse to rush onto his forehand.  Combine that with a soft hand and a hugging leg and he ended up trotting all the poles like a boss.

Poles from a couple weeks ago, oh hey check it out, that no forward motion trot doesn't work at these poles either.  Dur.  Well the rest of the group went on to cantering and trotting and changing leads and such and we just kept on trotting the blankity blank poles.
Why trot when we can canter...jumps!?
Finally the second and fourth poles went up to small jumps, praise be.  
red lines are jumps

We were still relegated to trotting in and coming back to the trot before the next set of poles.  He was great!  My reins were a little long the first time through, but the next time if felt just right.  The 'jumps' didn't have ground lines and one time through the sun came out from a cloud right as we came through a line and he saw the shadow on the back side of the jump and went very high in the air to miss it, we came back around with a ground rail set and he jumped it perfectly.  Over all for some reason I just wasn't feeling very accomplished, dunno why, pms maybe?  He really progressed from the start to the finish and it gave me loads to work on!  I like homework from lessons.  Good news, everyone was impressed with his snappy knees over the jumps.  The rest of the group got to canter through and do the direct turns to lines, we talked about how Prisoner could in fact do that quite well but teaching him to trot well and have patience were more important.  This horse has a lot of talent and I am enjoying the process of training him, but jumps are awesome so lets just look at this fantabulous picture from before I went out of town!


  1. That pole work will certainly pay off in the long run :)

    1. Yes it certainly will, it has already made his jump more consistent.

  2. Love the pics of him sticking his tongue out!! I kinda love and hate pole work bc it keeps us so honest as riders. My mare will fix stuff on her own when the jumps go up- but for ground poles it's 100% my responsibility lol. But like T said - this will all pay huge dividends later :)

  3. This is super random but I'm pretty sure your trainer owns a horse that a friend of mine is coming to look at. The horse is "Big Casino."

    1. Omg small world, yes, I love big casino!

  4. Prisoner is so cute! You two are such a great pair. He's come so far (and let's be honest, who's not pumped for jumps?).

    1. Awww thanks, and yes jump all the jumps!

  5. That is so many poles. But if snappy knees are the payoff, then yay!

  6. I think I'm the only person in the blogsphere that cannot fig out how to do graphics. I'm INSANELY jelly of your riding and doing things with poles. Like legit.

    Also his tongue the THEE cutest