Earlier in 2017, I switched over to a drop noseband.
Before the switch, I kept my young mare in some different cavessons, with or without flash, and with or without crank. She seemed happier in the drop, so we’ve stuck with that almost the whole year. Wasn’t really all that interested in switching back.
Still, it’s important to experiment. (Right!? I’m always open for change!) So, recently, I did a test-ride in the regular cavesson with flash combo.
Not really a believer in it, since it touches more of the sides of the cheeks and the drop seems simpler and less intrusive.
Surprise – she was better in it! Steadier. The holy grail, since this mare has a specialty of being “squirmy” in all parts of her body.
Less fiddling and tiddlywinkling in the bridle is fantastic news! Foamy flash with cookie stains is just fine…
The earlier, the emptier. Never truly solo here, with two trainers and a larger clientel, but show up early enough and it’s very quiet. Really.
I don’t ride all that early, truly. Too many other, things, to take care of first. Always loving the speedier, more adrenaline filled distances, but now there’s a spring Half Marathon on the schedule too. Reckless. So, more time spent running.
Valiosa has been going surprisingly well. (The minute you say that it’s all jinxed and next ride will be challenging again…) She feels just a tad softer, a little more forward, and actually attentive to the leg aids, go figure.
Got a walk-canter transition by mistake, unheard of for her!
The tweaky, tilting and definitely-NOT-throughness is still there, but less. See it here below? She contorts herself, pushing the shoulder out one way, folding the neck, later tilting the head left or right.
Once that stops, I know she’s in the hand and actually applying her self a little more from behind. Tricky part is just to get to that point. Before she runs out of steam. New winter goal!
One week ago, finally an opportunity to work with my trainer.
When there’s not going to be a lot of instruction opportunities, you know you better hang on to every word! (And thank youAlexis for driving all the way out to us!)
The October show was great. Still don’ feel I have “unlocked” the possibilities with this horse. She moves tight, and takes every opportunity to lock up, resist, slow down, wiggle the shoulders, tilt her head. Or all of the above.
Goal for this month: work, every ride, on riding her in a new way. Getting the basics down, all over again, with her moving more free, preferably without much influence of the hand at all. Starting almost from scratch all over again 🙂
Forget about fiddling with a better leg yield or small voltes for now. Writing it here will help make me accountable. Fingers crossed I can do this!! So far so good…
We spent a full hour on simply being more in tune of the leg, balancing the bit quietly in front of her, offering opportunity to lengthen the neck with the hand softening forward more often. (Now, a week later after the session, it’s getting more difficult…)
And steering the withers.
The last one ended up being the key.
It’s tempting to want to soften her body, and bend her around the inside leg. You do that too? With her, just overdoing it an inch makes her outside shoulder pop out on the circle and she’ll instantly lose all forward.
So, she has to be really on the outside aids, leg and rein. Steering just for them. Like a bus. Because the sort of horse she is, and because that’s where she’s at in the training again right now…
Positioning the poll to the inside more an afterthought, later, when she stays reliably in the tempo. This is hard, because through the ride, she gets more excited, and wants to curl just one inch, letting go of the bit. And then we wiggle, feeling lost, and it starts to feel like I can’t even ride her straight.
New mantra, steer like a bus.
Sure, this has come up before. Of course.
But that’s how it works with dressage – riders can’t take in the instruction until they’re actually ready. Or, until they’re convinced there’s absolutely no way they can continue what they’re doing now. And that lightbulb went on for me at the last show Ω
Fingers crossed we hold on to this type of riding all on our own until next month!
If you’ve got a tweak you’re working on – feel free to share it! We can’t be the only ones…?
What does it look like? Maybe an endless stream of negativity about horse sport, in just about any discipline.
Ever thought about how that shapes what you think, making your sport feel hopeless, a lost case where every one takes short cuts, or worse?
After some of the larger international dressage competitions, half of the Facebook feed seems to be about contorted necks and horses working in pain.
Heated discussions about shady training techniques.
In other disciplines – spur marks, bloody froth, draw reins, horses dying from over exertion, riding with all sorts of training gadgets, and even some temper tantrum millennial mishandling her horse in the show ring after falling off at a jump.
Should thatdecide what you think of modern horse sport? Would it change if we would mostly see good training, good riding, good showing, good horsemanship?
Just a small change of focus can really make a difference. We do what we see others do. We become what we do.
Trying really hard to not focus on bad riding over here, looking up to good riding.
Far from perfect, I’m trying. It really matters what we look at.
This site is mostly safe – not much behind the vertical stuff here. Because it shapes what we think.