I Got 99 Problems and Impulsion is at Least Half of Them

This is going to feel like word vomit after my slacktacular mostly-photo posts of the last two weeks, but bear with me.  First lesson in three weeks and we were drinking from the firehose.

Tonight's Dressage lesson felt like one mostly-stagnant-but-necessary step on the giant uphill climb of...something.  We turned one corner a while ago, where I could reliably get him on my aids, and we're somewhere in the long long stretch between that, and the self-carriage corner.

We're so far beyond one major breakthrough and so far from the next one that it would be easy to be down about today, even though nothing really went wrong.  It was just plain hard for both of us.

We were both pretty wiped after this one.

As a result of my trainer putting several rides and a lesson on him while I was gone, she had a very good idea of what to do with us.  Her current goals are the following:

1. His hind feet need to move quicker.
2. He needs to never be heavy in my hands. running through my rein aids, is the more accurate way to put this.
3. I need to think fast and constantly change things up for him.

To resolve 1, I have been using more whip when I feel his hind feet slow down, even if the speed of the gait feels fine.  She's helping me to recognize when he's just a bit sluggish behind.

To resolve 2, we have been applying liberal amounts of rein back, followed immediately by moving forward in a non-heavy manner.  Sometimes we do a turn on the haunches out of the rein back.  She said that at this (possibly brief, who knows) stage, I can't do too much rein back, but it must be controlled and slow and he has to come out of it better than he was before.

His preference is to race backward at 100mph with giant Cob reverse steps.  She says he's not going to like it because he's not inclined to want to both do the rein back and carry himself the way we want him to, which is all the more reason he needs to do it more.

To resolve 3, I have to change things up constantly.  Give this horse 10 steps on the rail and he's got his jaw and shoulders set.  So we change things up, quickly, between: leg yield, shoulder in, shoulder out, 10m circle, serpentine, spiral in/out, turn on the haunches, rein back, etc etc etc.  He must always be thinking, and always moving his feet at my direction.
My arms are too short for selfies! Ignore the weird loop, I'm fixing it.

This is hard for me, normally I get so wrapped up in thinking about feel I have a hard time also planning things, but it's making a huge difference on the flat and over fences.  When I'm doing it right, I have a horse that moves his feet faster and is sharply tuned to my aids, because he doesn't know what's coming next.

A horse that expects me to stay on the rail is going to check out, and we can't have that even for a step in order to get where we want to get in Dressage.  This is sounding a lot like the 2nd level discussion we had on here a while back...Karen?  Austen?  Tarra?

It was a hard lesson for both of us, both of us doing things that do not come naturally for us, but we're going to be better for it.

Things I do when my husband is gone: take my decisively gender-identifiable Huskies on a walk.

21 comments:

  1. The mixing things up is SO important with a smart boy like Connor, but man it's hard on your brain and body! You can't get complacent, even for a moment... but wow, the ride you have is amazing!

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    1. I hadn't really considered his smartness being the issue, but you're probably right. He knows how to get his way, the easy way, and I'm being too complacent. It definitely makes a difference, you're right.

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  2. Amen on your post title! Seriously the story of my life also. Forward, forward, forward...

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    1. Haha. With him, it's not even the speed of the gait, it's the push from behind. He's happy to race around on his forehand like the good driving pony he is.

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  3. I LOVE the title of this post! And you're right, things may be hard and unnatural now, but you guys will come out the other side even stronger :)

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  4. Daw! Tucker-tail!!

    .. oh, right. The horse ... ;) Changing things up will go a long way to getting him lighter and more responsive. I think you'll run into a lot of the things we were talking about in the 2nd level discussion. Namely, as you change things up and demand a higher level of work, you might start to see some resistances crop up.

    Connor finds it so easy to get long and strung out while still seeming to be pushing from behind. I think that's just a cob thing, as his trot has so much leg action it can trick you. That's going to be your biggest downfall to getting throughness and collection, but everything you mentioned today is going to help you correct that tendency. Just remember, he's always going to want to do that ... even at upper levels. Those sorts of tendencies don't go away, they just get easier to fix. In my experience ...

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    1. Yep, we're getting there...can't wait to talk to Nancy about these things.

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  5. Best post title ever. I totally LOL'd and I never actually LOL.

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    1. Haha! Glad I could entertain you on your Friday morning!

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  6. OMG! that title!
    And, OMG! You're a t-rex! LOLOLOL
    ("My arms are too short for selfies!")

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  7. Like the rest I agree--this title is amazing! :) ha!

    I love your use of lead ropes as dog leashes!

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    1. They are actual dog leashes, but they could be lead ropes. None of that flexi-leash business for me.

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  8. Oh impulsion. So important and easy to forget about.

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    1. Yes. Or, for us, so easily disguised as some other problem, hence the title.

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  9. I know exactly how you feel. Those are the things I am working on with Comrade and am starting to see that Rosemary needs too. It is easy to let them trail behind with out realizing it. We also use poles to get the back end to match the front. Can't wait to follow this next leg of your training.

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    1. Yes, it does seem to be a Cob thing. We're moving quickly, but not with enough impulsion. It's not even the "runny" gaits of a couple of years ago, it's just not enough push from the hind legs to make the magic happen.

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  10. We are right there with you :) Self carriage, impulsion, and never letting them check out!

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    1. Haha, we have really been at the same stages in the journey at the same times ever since I can remember! Can't wait to see a post on that beautiful blue neck ribbon!

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