Sunday, 3 June 2012

Lesson Report & Videos

WARNING - this gets long!
Apologies in advance!

I had my first lesson since the 21st of April yesterday (Saturday) evening with L, we worked on flatwork. I rode in my GP saddle as I feel I ride better in it at the moment - funny how things go in swings and roundabouts. When I first started riding in the dressage saddle I felt I went better in that one - now my allegiance has changed back to the GP. I will of course keep riding in both, but I do think that the placement of the knee blocks in the dressage saddle doesn't help with my knee gripping issue in canter...however I shall percevere with both saddles and am sure that my preference will undoubtably change multiple times.

The Mammy came to watch last night armed with my phone (Samsung Galaxy) & her iphone in the hopes of my getting some pictures of me riding to see where I am going wrong and/or what if anything was after improving since I last co-erced someone to take some snapshots of me in the saddle. She went one better and got a load of little videos, which are great as I can watch them back and hopefully not forget the lessons we were working on...Apologies in advance for sound - birds are lovely and relaxing sounding when watching the videos (I have to admit that I didn't hear them when riding!) and instruction is in French, so not sure if (m)any readers will understand what's being said to me - probably no bad thing as it is pretty repetitive, ;)

Practice makes perfect I hear...still waiting for this to come true!

Disclaimers prior to viewing (however constructive criticism always's the only way i'll learn):
- I know my hands are awful & too active
- as are my feet and heels aren't down
Both nasty habits I'm after picking up and shall work on bettering
- Kika doesn't always work from behind - i need to learn to make her do so and recognise when she is!

First up a little snapshot of Kika and I warming up before L's arrival for the lesson.

Lesson time - Some serpentine and volt work
We stayed on the smaller circle for the end of previous video and the next video as L had me 'brake' with my outside rein to stop Kika cheating and falling to the outside on her circle. Between these two videos I had gone back to walk to get it right before moving back up to trot...there had been a video of the walking phase but it was very long and having watched it and taken what I need from it I have decided against sharing it here as watching K and I walk in a circle for 2mins isn't great viewing for others, ;)
We moved up to some canter work next, for which I decided to work without stirrups...I'm sure that that won't help with my grabbing at the knee issue - but I find myself getting more distracted when cantering by my heels not staying down & my feet not staying in the stirrups, flopping about and generally being a Class 1 nuissance - so all ridden work in the rest of the videos is done without stirrups!
This is not a clip of our first canter but second I think...either way there is still a lot of work to do! Hopefully this won't be too cringe-tastic!
Also, please keep in mind that the left rein is our "bad" rein when cantering - ok no more disclaimers here are the videos ;)
Some more left rein cantering - exhibiting why it is my bad rein!
I got a slight telling off for next clip, as I slowed her back to trot after she going well on the left rein - I have to work on this - but I will plead exhaustion in this case as by the time I got this bit of work out of her I was spent in the saddle! Don't panic I'm not let off the hook that easily, ;-), we come back to left rein canter work before lesson & video clips are over!
After being told off for slowing up, L had me change rein - usually our better side for canter work before changing back left later.
Some right rein first - although this video makes me question why I think it my better rein...admittedly K & I were getting tired at this stage, but we percereved!

Back to left rein (bad side) cantering...

Lesson finished off with some lateral work in walk. This is only my third time attempting this excercise in a lesson - I don't have enough of a feel for it yet to try it on my own as I don't want to end up confusing Kika with my requests.
I know it seems like a lot of videos...but it does get  a bit better...I think! At first L is on hand with stick to help from teh ground...but then I think I managed some on my own! Didn't realise this until after the lesson when the Mammy reassuerd me that I had and indeed I have since seen from the videos that it would appear to be correct - funny how the brain blanks on things when concentrating!

Now that I have seen the proof we can do lateral work in walk - the tricky thing becomes distinguishing the difference and recognising the movement when she does it - I have to admit that I couldn't feel it when she was crossing her legs - speaking to L about it afterwards she says K takes tiny steps and that that might be why I can't yet recognise when she's doing it - hopefully practice will help the pair of us relax so that she can take bigger steps and I might be able to feel them!

We had a bit of a chat after the lesson - not our usual post-lesson postmortem, but between the Mammy & L, I have plenty homework - namely to fix my hands & arms, I need to keep my elbows bent & closer to my sides, lifting my hands, not bending at the wrist and less fidgitting when spongeing all the while alternating the spongeing - meaning not doing right/left all the time (as Kika will end up swinging her head all the time...I think she is in fact already starting to do this *blush* = Bad Me!) but to alternate by right/right then left spongeing or left/left/left/right/right/left/left/right etc spongeing to keep changing it up.
I also have to learn to relax my "bassin"/ pelvic area and go more with the horse - not force the movement. I hadn't even realised i was doing this so locating the muscle memory and pathways to get my brain to relax something i wasn't conscious of doing will be fun! ;) But now that it has been pointed out to me I can recognise another reason for why my canter is so awful!
Of course we musn't forget the heels & legs - I need Need NEED to stop gripping with my knees and train my heels down more!
Lots of work still needed as always - thankfully horse riding is never a done deal & there is always plenty to improve upon. Sorry for the video overload - also they make me giggle, L has two bearded collies who were outside the arena during the lesson. Leo is the younger slightly more playful one, throughout the videos you can hear L scold him and indeed The Mammy sniggering at him as he tries to open the arena door at one stage - anyway just thought I'd better post a quick FYI as to the dog whining noises throughout the speedier sections of the videos ;-)

I have decided to give Kika today off, while I digest and mull over yesterday lesson while re-watching the videos. That and the fact I have ridden her the last three days in a row and that L has told me we're having another lesson on Monday evening and possibly jumping on Wednesday - watch this space! :p

If you have gotten this far you deserve a some sort of reward!
Unfortunately I can't give you one, only my whole hearted thanks in advance for any comments/tips/advice you may offer!


  1. I wasn't able to watch all the videos (but plan on it) but two things jumped out right away!

    1) She is working better than she was before. Kudos!

    2) Your stirrup looks long, it looks dressage length in a GP saddle. maybe try shortening it a hole, or a hole and a half. Maybe just a hole to start. That may help with your heel and knee problem. You won't be "reaching" for it as much.

  2. Thanks L, I look forward to hearing further thoughts if & when you manage to watch the rest of the videos!
    All input very welcome!

    I'm to ride in that saddle again this evening so shall have a go at shortening the stirrups another hole - thanks for that! :)
    In fact that could also be a factor as to why i struggle worse in the dressage saddle - the stirrups are longer've given me new stuff to think about - cheers hun!

    Big thank you on your first comment, i feel like we are slowly getting there - this attempting to work properly stuff is new to both of us. We used to be #1 fans of "have-at-it-attitude" and "sure-we'll-give-it-a-lash" ... propper schooling, lateral work, outlines etc were all stuff of dreams - i hope that slowly but surely we are getting there!

    Better slow and steady then cutting corners methinks.
    I'm sure there will be plenty more ups and downs to come!
    Ah the joys of animals :D

    1. Right! All the big name trainers and riders I read or listen to and have worked with have always said, a little bit of progress goes a lot farther than anything else. Never overface the horse, or ask them to do something advanced when they aren't physically or mentally ready.


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