Monday, December 6, 2010

Last minute clinic! Are you kidding me!?!

I am still in awe that this happened yesterday.  So a couple weeks ago I got an email that there was a dressage clinic at the stable that I take lessons at.  I have never been to a clinic before but covet the opportunity to do so.  I didn't mention it to my husband because I knew the answer would be "do you have the money for it".  So I abondoned the idea.  The clinic was to be yestereday and I awoke with one the on the brain yestereday.  "Maybe I could at least go to watch".  It is about and hour drive for me.  I had already promised the kids we would do our traditional Christmas tree cutting down day so I was not sure if it was possible to squeeze in a trip to the clinic.  I was looking at the email and Ryan asked what I was looking at.  I explained it to him and would you believe the next words out of his mouth????  "Well why aren't you going?"  WHAT!!?!  So you better believe I jumped out of bed grabed my phone and asked if they any openings.  Well why yes they did and I was to ride at 1:30!!

  • Run do chores
  • get the family ready and in the car
  • drive 30 min away to tree farm
  • walk through hundreds of trees to find the perfect one
  • cut it down/shake it/ tie it to the roof
  • drink cup of hot cocoa
  • drive home
  • put tree in stand
  • throw in saddle and all riding gear
  • hook up trailer
  • throw in Steady ;)
  • drive to clinic to arrive at 1:20
  • Throw on tack
  • warm up for 5 minutes
And that is how one shows complete inabilty to control their absolutely insanely crazy horse obsession.
There were three of us riding for an hour.   Lynn looked about 16 on a bay warmblood that she has owned for about three years and Alisha looked about 17 on her chestnut thoroughbred mare that she has owned for a few months.  Each of them had all the good horsey gear.  The Anky saddles and Charles Owens helmets and all the other goodies that I probably turn green just looking at.   Then me trying to hide my green with envy face riding my Steady, 30 years old with my troxel helmet that makes me look like an egg head, my used coventry saddle and my probably 20 year old bridle.  Can you tell I have a bit of a 

Lightbulb #1 using correct aides at the walk.
She started off by trying to give us a mental picture.  She started with the "hallway"  she said we should think of riding in a hallway and always trying to keep our horses within that hallway.  That they like to get out of the hallway because in the hallway means work so it is our job to always keep them in it.  Then on a walk she explained how to ride a walk.  The walking thing is foreign to me.  I don't think in the hunter jumper world that the walk is ever given much attention and thus I do not know the first thing about how to ask for a correct walk.  She explained that I should apply leg alternately as the horse moves and coordinate with his movement.  This made sense and this was light bulb number 1.

Lightbulb #2: sweeping in to the outside rein.
Next mental picture was to "think of sweeping the kitchen floor all the time."   We should always be sweeping the horse into the outside rein.  The inside rein is the just there and not used to get correct movement.  Lightbulb #2: sweeping in to the outside rein.  Use the inside leg and sweep into the outside rein.  That the outside rein is where the contact is. 

She put us all on about a 20 meter circle in our respective parts of the ring to do trot work.  About 20 minutes in I started noticing the lack of attention Steady and I were getting.  About 30 minutes in I started noticing I think I need to start doing a little more trot work at home cause I was starting to get tired.  By that time Leslie had come down and appoligized for not giving Steady and I adequate attention.  Listen to this, she said "You two are just farther along than the other two" I think I had a momentary ego boost on that one.  I was soooo proud that we had a little acknoledgement on our progress and by a pro none-the-less!  She made a few more statements headed our direction the big ones were:  "You have got a beautiful horse.  You two seem like a perfect match.  Do you realize with the correct work what an amazing dressage horse he could be?  You have a wonderful horse, he is very honest and obedient.  He really wants to please you."  I am blown away that a woman of her calliber saw so much in my OTTB.  I am not trying to brag but she did not say those type of comments to the other girls or about their horses.  So I am fairly confident she wasn't just saying those things because I was paying her...ha. 

So my complex of not having all the proper or fancy horse gear turned into "See you don't need all those fancy things to get some pretty amazing stuff out of your horse".  The stuff will come little by little but it was nice to remind myself that it is OK to not have all that I want in this world.  I just need to be content and  take what I have and make the best of it.  And always remember why I am doing this, it is not for the progress though it is nice.  I am doing it for my love of horses and as long as I get to go out and ride my pony then the rest is icing!!!

Next she said two words I was hoping to hear.  LEG YIELDS!!!  Ever since I read the post about leg yeilds on TB at X I have been facinated with trying them.  The post is very descriptive you should check it out.  I also loved that the aides explained in the post were the same aides Leslie told us to use.  Outside rein/inside leg.  She said "Starting at the A end of the ring turn at the quarter line and start the leg yeild at the second letter.  Inside leg to the outside rein."  It was at that moment that I realized I have started to understand the "language" you know that second language called dressaganese.  I realized she had been using termanology all day that two months ago would have been just as effective to give me directions in Chinese than Dressaganese.  Woohoo, next step to actually learn how to speak it.  If you have ever learned a second language you know that you can understand a spoken language much sooner than you can fluently speak it.  That is where I am at I can understand about 75% of the language but can only speak bits and pieces.  Hopefully the speaking of it will come soon.  Nevermind that we were talking about leg yeilds. 

Lightbulb moment #3 what a leg yeild feels like.  The neck is to stay straight, inside leg to outside rein and they only cross over slightly.

Light bulb moment #4 Where his head needs to be. 
For the first half of the lesson Steady would go on the bit nicely and then be super dramatic and pull his head super low.  This is not a regular occurance but I am glad she was there to see it so she could help me correct it.  A couple half halts and if it doesn't work then transition to a walk and quickly back to a trot.  After fiddling with him for few minutes I figured out the half halt idea worked in conjunctin with pushing him forward with my leg.   At some point during our ride Leslie said "Right there, that is where you want his head.  So lock that image and feeling into the microchip in your head."  Very helpful as long as my microchip does not fail me.

Lightbulb #5 The motor is in the rear end
My goal is to get him to work from the rear end.  As a racer he is inclined to go out in behind but he does come under himself nicely he just needs more practice and fitness.  haha speaking of fitness about 40 minutes into it, mostly troting, I was reeeeally feeling it and my muscule response was getting slower and less acurate.  Poor Steady.  It probably started to feel like Gumby was on his back.

Light bulb #6 how to properly ask your horse for a canter....REALLY?...not sure how such a basic priciple is a lightbulb for me but obviously what I needed. 
At that point she ended the lesson.  She appologized to me that we didn't get to the canter but she just didn't have time with the three of us.  I then so sweetly beeeeged if she would take 2 minutes at that canter with us.  She agreed!!  This is where I am really hoping to improve over the next couple months and we need some help.  She had us on a 20 meter circle at the center line prepare aides and quarterline ask.  Bwahaha not good.  He scooted off and in her words "ran like a chicken".  Well that is typical and I just always thought it was an issue he had.  Oh boy was I wrong.  After her correcting me, my aides and my movement he really had very little problem picking it up.  I think her exact words were "why in the world were you posting?  What do you think posting really fast tells him?"  me:" Uh to trot faster".  L: "Why do you think he takes off running like a chicken?  Because he thinks that is what you want from him?  Me: "OOOOH".  Duh!  L: "Sit your ASS in the saddle, sit back, look up and ask your horse to canter!!!"  Me:  AH HA, now I get it.  Oh boy is my horse tolerent. 

I walked away with so much information and so much excitement I thought  I could explode.  It was phenomenal!!!

The remainder of the day went like this
  • Untack 
  • go into the tack store at the stable and buy a leather halter with brass nameplate for my daughters horse for x-mas (get a little jealous that I don't have one for my horsey) 
  • attempt to load Steady into trailer
  • Steady slip getting in and then deciding it was not something he cared to do today. 
  • Freezing my butt off trying to convince him he needed to get in. 
  • Did I mention it was cooooold outsde? Brrrrr 
  • Begging for an innocent bystanders help.  which I hate to do because they always have their own ideas of how to get a horse in a trailer and I know EXACTLY what it takes to get Steady in. 
  • After 5 minutes of me saying no all I need you to do is _______.  No do not get close to him.  All I need you to do is _____. 
  • The nice girl finally doing what I asked and Steady jumping right in.
  • Me telling Steady that that wasn't nice and now I am frozen.
  • hour drive home.
  • unload Steady
  • cook dinner
  • do chores
  • eat dinner
  • try to thaw out
  • Decorate christmas tree with the kids
  • put the kids to bed
  • crash on the couch and watch a movie

THE END....until tomorrow.


  1. Sounds like a perfect day to me !!! :)
    Steady is one handsome beast and WOW on those compliments. I'm pretty sure I would now have those exact words printed on a T-shirt that I would wear to the barn, lol! AMAZING!!!
    Great descriptions too, and thanks for sharing! Love the hallway description, I'm such a visual learner so that helps a ton!

  2. What a day! I totally hear you on the dying to go to a clinic thing... I'm missing one today. :-(

    Steady sounds fabulous!! Well done, both of you.

  3. You are wonder woman! Good grief!!! :-) :-)

  4. That is amazing!! Sounds like the most perfect day ever! I always learn so much from watching clinics. I've never gotten to ride in one yet, but hope to someday. Congrats on doing so well and earning some huge compliments. You guys are great!


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