Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lesson with G, & Getting Bucked Off

Oscar is currently having a week off to just 'be a horse'. He's the top dog grazing in a group of nine horses in a huge open paddock, and loving life as such. I don't know why I do this, but whenever my horse is going well I tend to take a couple of steps backwards by turning him out!

I feel like he's at a stage in his training where I'm asking a lot from him, and giving him a week here and there makes me feel better.

Anyway, we had a lesson with G last week to work on collection. Specifically collection before extension.

We're still working in an open paddock as the arena builders are having trouble sourcing the material for the arena surface, but we have set up a makeshift arena with tyres and spare jump poles and such - just to provide some sort of guidelines.

I'll refrain from typing out the entire lesson, but wanted to share two exercises that I found helped Oscar.

The first exercise was carried out in sitting trot and G just had me ride 5m circles at every marker in the arena on both reins. Oscar tends to auto pilot into a slightly more forward, lengthened trot up the long sides of the arena (somebody had too much fun practising lengthened trot when we learned that trick! (yeah, it was me...)) and so this exercise is useful to stop him anticipating any lengthened strides. Whilst it is barely noticeable, we want to be sticklers for maintaining rhythm at all times.

Maintaining rhythm and bend through the circles before going forward and straight out of them seemed to loosen Oscar up considerably, although it was an exercise I want to use sparingly to begin with, as it is hard work. There was a point when he suppled up nicely and we stopped there to prevent him getting fatigued.

The second exercise was focussing on the quality of his lengthened trot. I imagined practise made perfect when it came to lengthening, and just incorporate long lines of extension in schooling sessions. I find that the longer the line, the more room there is for Oscar to open up and the bigger the stride I get out of him.

However, whilst it feels better this way - G pointed out that at my level, judges only want to see 3-5 strides of lengthened trot anyway, and it's much more practical to work on quality transitions into the gait instead. Of course! Transitions being the golden elixir of dressage and all that.

Instead of riding a forward working trot into a lengthened trot across the diagonal, G had me ride a 10m circle at K/H/M/F (wherever I was taking the diagonal line from) in sitting trot to collect my horse, and then slowly push him into a few lengthened strides across X, bringing him back for another collected 10m circle at the opposite corner.

It seems pretty straight forward, but after usually powering into this exercise, Oscar found the transitions a little tricky and it did take a few attempts to get it smoothly.

In other news, whilst Oscar is being feral I rode one of the younger girls' ex show jumper pony. He's a 28y/o Appaloosa, and a bit of a golden oldie in that you can hop on and do whatever. Well, whatever as long as it doesn't involve jumps! He jumped up to Grand Prix, and being a smart appy, he remembers his job and obviously enjoyed it back in the day. 

Coming into a tiny upright, he did a couple of bucks, popped over the jump and did another big buck before cantering away nicely. I gave him a pat and rode round to a small oxer, thinking he was just fresh and would be keen to go. It seems he was just warming up, coming towards the oxer he took a big leap and buck which popped me in front of the pommel, before corkscrewing into the middle of the paddock towards everyone else on their ponies. As he stopped dead, I got pumped off over his shoulder and landed with a thud on my hip. I can personally confirm the ground is pretty hard at the moment - everyones thoughts on the matter are quite correct. Rain would be lovely.

It just goes to show, no matter how well you think you can ride a horse, there will always be a pony out there to put you in your place. This little appy brought me down to earth quite literally!

Whilst I sit here with a sore bum, enjoy a view of Oscar's which is quite delicious...

PS: Hope everyone had a lovely Valentines Day, I've always loved V-Day (single or not) and this year I got a new mitten. Cute huh..


  1. your kitten is so cute :-)

  2. bummer about the fall - that appy sounds sassy!! Oscar's looking great tho - your lesson sounds really productive (and makes me miss dressage lessons something awful!). hope he enjoys his little mini break before getting back to work :)