Doing Less

Last night's lesson was more of the same: in-hand to warm up, followed by shoulder-in at the walk, followed by lots of walk-trot-walk transitions in shoulder-in.  This time, we ended with the same exercise she did at the clinic, which was adding a walk-canter transition out of the shoulder in across a diagonal.

"Is that black thing in your hand edible?"

We're continuing to explore this idea of do less.  Here are some paraphased trainer quotes from last night:

- "You're too busy, sit still.  Do less."

- "You eventually want to just position him in shoulder-in and let him carry it from there rather than constantly adjusting him. Ride with that goal in mind."

- "Sometimes you're too quick to correct him, and he gets flustered.  Give him a split second longer when you feel him about to make the wrong decision before correcting.

[Cob Jockey in: three months ago I couldn't coordinate my aids fast enough to keep up with his errors.  Learning to ride at this stage feels like learning advanced chemistry, where they tell you to "Forget everything you learned in Chem 1" on the first day.]

- "He's about to swing his croup in, guard it - no, you were too fast and too dramatic with your leg, now he's swung the opposite direction.  Be tactful with your aids so we get less of this bouncing from side to side."

- "Don't immediately grab him if he doesn't come back to a collected walk fast enough after the trot.  Ask for flexion, and wait with quiet aids, and he'll start coming back faster."

I'm listening!

I always say I have to start my lessons yelling and I end whispering, and in a lot of my rides on my own (which haven't been great lately) I'm yelling the whole time.  But last night, as soon as I sat still and whispered my aids, even when I didn't think he was ready for that, he became more sensitive in response.  I still had speed control issues, but all of the rest of my aids could be soft and quiet.

It makes me wonder: am I causing my own "yelling" problem?  Is the reason my rides on my own suck right now because I am not self-aware enough on my own to fix my position and my 'too loud' aids?  Is he reacting to what I'm giving him, and if I gave him less right off the bat he would require less?

Probably.  Good thing we're taking extra trainer rides/lessons this month!

Boredom behavior: flapping his tongue around

19 comments:

  1. Riding is so hard. Totally feel with you on this one!

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  2. I vote yes to "I want video of fancy Connor".

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    1. Paging Equinovice, I need someone to take a video!

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    2. at your service! available weeknights and weekends anytime other than Nov 19-29 (

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  3. This is a tough one. I've noticed as I've gotten more balanced/connected that my pony is also the same and things that took more obvious aids take much much less. For me though, it's been more of a gradual process since I don't have the trainer rides to speed the process. You might try starting your rides on your own thinking about your balance and connection more and then using what you thing of as half strength aids or quarter strength aids and see what happens. It's all such a mental game!

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    1. Thank you, that's a good suggestion! I'll give that a try tomorrow.

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  4. When I was lucky enough to have a regular trainer, (oh so long ago) she was quick to remind me that it doesn't pay to try to head off your pony's errors. For the aid / correction to work, the horse has to be allowed to actually make the mistake. Mistakes are training opportunities in disguise! :D

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    1. Agreed! I have heard that a lot lately.

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  5. RIDING IS SO HARD. Let me know if you ever figure out how not to yell at your pony. Sometimes I try to think about starting my rides in the mindset of "how soft/quiet can I be" and sometimes that helps. But usually, I end up yelling at him.

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    1. Yeah...my trainer is so able to snap me out of it which is why my rides with her are so amazing. But I have to get that on my own without someone coaching me through it.

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  6. This sounds really similar to my last lesson. I was working on addressing things appropriately but being really soft and quiet. Usually I either don't address quickly enough or do way too much. Riding is hard!!

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  7. interesting! i'm like, 95.7% positive that my mare would love it if i just shut up and sat still every now and then haha

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  8. Omg your chemistry analogy is RIGHT ON! So true.

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    1. Lol, I knew there had to be a STEM nerd somewhere out there! You're it!

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  9. Omg yes, like the transition from Chem to Ochem! Wait I learned all the freaking elements and now we only use a few!? Gotta love dressage.

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