September 29, 2012

Cathy Clinic, Day 1

No pictures or video from today, sadly, but I am definitely going to ask for some tomorrow after everyone, including Cathy, was gushing over how improved his canter is from the spring.  I can certainly feel big improvements, but it didn't feel that good.  However, my judgment may have been clouded by the fact that Connor was tense, bracing, up, tough and distracted this morning, and I really had to ride aggressively in order to make lemonade out of those lemons.

My biggest takeaways from today are:
1. Don't rush him during the canter departs: When she told me that I was rushing him during the depart and that his feet needed time to catch up to his brain (part of the reason he picks it up crossfiring so often), I giggled, because that's exactly what it feels like.  "He's a quick study in other things, but not this.  It has to get from your aids to his brain to his feet."  He looks and feels like a pile of uncoordinated limbs during the depart, and like he has to think about where each foot is placed.  This was a really good thing for me to hear, take more seriously, and work on.  Not rushing feels more like using softer aids and a better half halt.

2. We have a sweet walk-canter depart...where did that come from?:  I think we only picked it up through the trot twice, and we did a LOT of transitions.  He got it bang on every time, and is beginning to sit back and really use himself in that transition.  I think this is just easier now that he's developed more muscle, but it's also some education.

3. I need to weight my outside seatbone a lot more while asking for a canter depart: I realized today that my whole body is twisted and contorted while asking for the depart, and that my weight is often on the inside - another reason for crossfiring.

4. I'm being too polite sometimes about the left bend issue: Cathy wanted me to get firmer with him if he did things like ignore my request for a left bend so completely we almost ran into a jump standard, and she asked me to pull his head to the left.  She wants me to try a full cheek snaffle with him tomorrow, and remarked, "It is just amazing, he is a completely different horse [to the right], you were not kidding."

5. Jumping needs to become a normal thing for us: Our Dressage work really is improving our jumping, but jumping is still unusual and strange in his brain, which makes him wiggly, or makes him jump huge for no reason, or makes him hesitate.  I'm really glad I didn't enter in any jumping classes at Octoberfest - just like with Dressage, I feel like you should be schooling slightly above what you're showing, and we would not be setting ourselves up for success by showing over fences in 2012, even if they were little.

I was told that everyone was commenting on how much Connor has improved, and Cathy said that since she last saw him four months ago, he's made a complete turnaround at the canter and his "neck looks better" and that his topline has noticeably filled out with muscle.  It makes me feel good, even if it was a really tough, physical ride.

And then I got sick, and I am struggling to sit here and type this post, so I'm going back to bed in hopes that this passes by tomorrow!  I am also planning on responding to the awesome comments left on yesterday's post when I feel better - you guys are awesome!


  1. Sounds like a great day! I hope you aren't feeling too sick to attend day 2!

  2. Sounds like a very productive clinic! Sorry you could not be in two places at the same time and compete at HHP with Austin and me :)

    Wise to wait until next year to jump at a show -
    when you do, it will be worth the wait!