Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Last Tuesday's Lesson and Last Thursday's Hack

Last Tuesday was kind of odd, I was on too early for my lesson and Sarah was late because of a issue in the lesson prior to mine, so Werther and I walked for a long time before we got started. When Sarah got to the barn we rolled up our sleeves and got right to work. We started out with the trot, working on getting it really energetic. The main theme of the lesson was "quick feet". We don't necessarily need to be really fast, but the steps need to keep coming very quickly. We worked on this concept at the trot and canter, as well as using it for the free walk, really pushing to make him come through and over his back. After our break we ran through both Training Level Test 2 and Test 4. We talked about the four things I need to do in my tests: short reins, impulsion, connection, and quick feet. The tests went really well, the canter transitions have really come along nicely, I am still struggling with the serpentines though. On Thursday, I did a lot of transitions in my warm up to get Werther sensitive and then ran through my two tests again. I really liked the energy and impulsion of the tests, but I had trouble with the free walk and the stretchy circle. I just could not get him to come down to me. The stretch is always a challenge for Werther, but I have been making a lot progress on it lately, it is frustrating to have a set back.

One Year with Werther!

Shows always get me a little behind on this blog and regular programing will resume soon but I just wanted to take some time out today for my one year anniversy with Werther. It has been a wild (metaphorically speaking) ride. In one year I got a new horse, changed disciplines, and changed trainers. This past weekend was the last show of my first dressage season, and while I wasn't high in the ribbons, we had a blast and it was a great way to end out the year. I'm excited for the off season of the fall and winter, getting to work hard and a chance to educate myself more on dressage theory. First Level and Para-FEI are still in my sights for next year, but now I have a better understanding of how hard I will have to work to get there. Werther is just great, he has been a excellent teacher for me. He is always demanding precision, but not getting mad when I get it wrong. They say it takes a year just to get used to a new horse, now that we have had a year together getting to know each other, I think things can only go up from here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It is really nice when you finally get something in a lesson. The big thing for me in my lesson on Saturday was the 10m turn onto the center line. Werther was good all through the lesson, we did our transition work and did our trot and canter work before finishing with our centerline turns. It was hot and humid on saturday so Werther lacked some of the impulsion that he had on Thursday and Friday, but he was nicely round. Sarah had me do a exercise to practice the turn on the centerline which was to pick up the trot, and as you are approaching the long side of the area, make a 10m circle at every letter. Doing those little circles, so quickly back to back, you realize right away that you cannot make those turns with just reins alone. The posting, steering, and using your leg at the same time was hard in that tight situation, so I eliminated the posting. That helped the situation immediately. Then I was able to shift my weight onto my inside seat bone and Werther turned very easily underneath me, in fact at times I got circle too small. after practicing those 10m circles down the long side we went back to the centerlines which were significantly improved. The last thing we worked on was making sure to give a little half halt while turning onto the centerline so the horse can finished the turn in smooth and balanced manner instead of fish tailing with his hind end. I was really happy with how things finished out, I've gotten 8s on my centerlines before, I hope to see some more of those this weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Osteopath, Thursday and Friday's Hacks

Dr. Audrey came out and adjusted Werther on Wednesday. She was really pleased with his progress from a month ago, and thinks he can be adjusted on a as needed basis now. Audrey's a beliver in getting them moving pretty quickly after a adjustment, so Werther had Wednesday off and I rode him on Thursday. Werther felt awesome, his impulsion was a lot better, however now that I have my impulsion I need to work on my connection, it was not as consistent as I would like it to be. I started out the ride doing walk/halt, walk/trot, and trot/halt transition. Werther is getting better about moving forward right away, but still wants to come above the bit as he moves off. I practiced a couple of serpintines and those were great, I could really feel Werther wrapping his rib cage around my leg. I picked up the canter, we didn't do anything fancy, just went around the ring with a few circles thrown in, practicing our jump, connection, and my geometry. I took a break went out of the ring, and warmed up like I would for a test, getting a good walk, a forward trot really asking Werther to lengthen, and then picked up a canter, and really asked him to climb up and extend (not a real extension, I'm not that good yet) went back to the trot half way down the long side, and entered the ring. I rode Test-4, which went really well, especially with the upward transitions. I finished by practicing a few turns from the left and on to the centerline which I am still struggling with. Friday, I didn't have as much time but I did a condensed version of what I worked on Thursday. He was better connected Friday, but I lost a little bit of the impulsion and flexibility that I had on Thursday. I did test 2 instead of test 4, I was happy with it, I felt it had good accuracy. I finished by doing some 10m circles and then turning on to the centerline. The turns still are not were I want them to be, but they did seem a little bit improved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Today I sent in my check to audit a Betsy Stiner Clinic. I hope I get a spot, they are only allowing 25 auditors a day. I had a lesson tonight, Werther had a big hive on the side of his hip he did not have yesterday, it is almost as big as my hand. It didn't have any heat though, and wasn't in a place were the tack would bug him which is good. The barn was toasty tonight even with the fans on, it was warm out and the farrier was there shoeing horses. We started out the ride with me encouraging Werther to have a vigorous walk. Sarah and I have talked a lot lately about how I can't let my focus go at all with this horse, and I have to demand quality work from him the whole ride, because once I loose some ground with Werther especially with impulsion, I have to spend a long time gaining it back. After we got the walk established we did some walk trot transitions and did some trot work. We focused on getting that initial impulsion in the upward transition to the trot and insisting that Werther stay round at the same time. In the trot we also spent time on impulsion and roundness. Getting that initial impulsion is getting better, but he is still getting too strung out on me, I need to figure out how to make him do both at once, a little walking and chewing bubble gum. We did a little bit of canter work to warm up, working on improving the jump and connection. I had some really good moments but nothing consistent. We finished with a stretching circle at the trot, which are getting so much better now that Werther has had his hocks done. We took a long walk break, and we went in a rode test 4. Sarah had me go outside the ring, and develop a really foreword trot and she had me do some canter with some lengthenings down the long side to get him ready to go into ring. We had to practice the turn on to center line a few times before Sarah deemed us fit to continue. She also had us repeat the serpentine, I'm still working on perfecting that movement, I tend to get too much neck bend or Werther leg yields over, but it is getting much better, especially over the last week. The canter on the long sides and in the circles was pretty good, as was the trot diagonal. Free walk and medium walk is a challenge, but my tactics we good. We had a very nice stretching circle, but my turn on to center line was utter fail. I just could not get my brain to make the connection to get my body to do what Sarah was telling me I needed to do. You can bet I will be working on that this week, no riding on Thursday though, Werther is seeing the osteopath tomorrow to get adjusted.

Sarah's Ride Yesterday

I got to go out to the barn and watch Sarah ride my Werther yesterday. It was fascinating. She was able to talk me through a lot of what she was doing and why. This isn't a exact blow by blow of the session, but these are the exercises that really stood out to me.
1. Early in the ride, after warming up she did a lot of shoulder in at the trot down the long side of the ring, stopping at the short side to do some turn on the forehand, the going back down the long side and doing renvers. She did this exercise several times to loosen him up and get him jazzed up about the ride.
2. The second highlight of the ride for me was something new she just started doing with Werther today. She had him to eight meter leg yield circles at the trot, kind of coiling him up like spring, and then made him give a really good quality trot across the diagonal, so he has more air time at the trot and gets stronger and already improves upon a already very good gait.
3. Sarah's rides are a little like circuit training for people, after doing that bit of strength training, she made sure to do more stretching exercises at the trot and gave him a walk break. After this she did some schooling canter pirouettes intermixed with some extended canter. I haven't seen Werther do pirouettes before, so even though they were not show ring pirouettes, they were still fun to watch.
4. Lastly she rode Werther through training level test 4 for me. It was really good opportunity for me to see how she would ride the test. It helped me to understand the serpentines a lot better, the bend is actually a lot more understated that I thought it was when I have been riding them.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quick August Post

A very quick recap of August so I can move on to current events.
  • At home I've been working on impulsion, a more consistent connection, and suppleness, I fell of once at home doing no stirrups work and scrapped up my nose, but was no worse for ware. I've also been able to sneak in a few trail rides which have been really nice.
  • I've been to two horse shows, the first show I got some pretty good scores in the low 60s on T-3 and T-4 from Betsey Berrey and Kristi Wysocki. I really liked Betsey Berrey, every time I halted at "G" she had something nice to say about Werther. The second show was tough, 3 out 4 of my classes Ulf Wadeborn who seemed like a nice guy but was very tough, I got my lowest scores yet from him, but I did get some helpful comments. My one T-4 that was with Sue Madden Madras. I got a 60.8, straight 6s through the whole test, except for a 7 on Werther's gaits.
  • We have been doing some matinence work with Werther, we had a really good osteopath Dr. Audrey come out and work on him, and Dr. Sarah did hock injections.
  • I recently read "Principals of Riding" by The German National Equestrian Federation, excellent read for newbies as well as experienced horseman, I would recommend it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm back!

Sorry I have been away for so long. I got very busy finishing up an internship and studying for the GRE so I can hopefully get into grad school, as well as horse showing and summer activities with the family. I'm planning on doing a recap of August, and I want to add a new feature of horse related book and DVD reviews. Thanks for being so patient with me!