Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Schooling success

We made a trip to Water Farm on Monday evening after work to do some schooling, with Sarah and Franks. It was a thank you for us helping out at the second dressage clinic last weekend. Can't ask for better payment than free use of a lovely indoor arena! It was made all the more interesting when Nancy joined us. This is Nancy:

She is very opinionated, and was not interested in the slightest in leaving us to it. Luckily Rio wasn't too worried about her, although he did avoid her for a couple of rounds. We did some lovely demi-volts along the opposite side of the school, and then set back to it, and he was fine. 

We had some fab movement and work in the trot, and he's really starting to work better from behind now - which followed through into tonight's session at the yard! I was a little disappointed with the canter work (or lack thereof!) at Water Farm, after we hacked out twice at the weekend and did none at all. I thought he'd be itching to get going. 

Tonight I was very pleased with everything he did, on the ground and in the saddle. He stretched down and forward beautifully by the end of the session, and we managed our longest canter in our grass arena yet - and he didn't drop out of it on his own, I asked him forward to trot! As a little bonus my friend was having her horse schooled by a mutual friend who teaches, and as we were trotting around at the end, he gave me some pointers on getting Rio working more effectively from behind and pushing down and forward. I was absolutely beaming by the end, but shattered! 

Absolutely brilliant discovery - take feet out of stirrups, and let them drop down, and Rio stops dead in a perfect square halt
Not so good when I eventually come to wanting to work without stirrups, but interesting nonetheless. I ride quite short, so it must feel very odd to him when my legs stretch down! 

After Franks had a bit of a meltdown on our casual walk out on Saturday, courtesy of the two practising trial bikes I inadvertently took us past, I decided to take Rio out for a casual walk up the road on Sunday morning. I was determined to clock up another solo ride, and this one was a bit of a challenge that I ended up being proud of. 

We crossed the road, where he took offence to something (still no idea what!) and promptly spun to the right, and took off up the 3 foot grass bank. Onto the farmer's field. Not good! I used my recently learned trick of lifting my right rein to bend him and disengage his hind, and brought him back quickly, before too much damage could be done to the crop... I whisked him straight back off at the corner of the field, where he still put up an argument about proceeding up the road. After a moment of discussion, with a couple looking on from their car across the road, he eventually got on with it, and we marched on our way. 

The ride was made up of little victories; sitting the spook, not turning back and making him listen to me, not turning around at the top of the road because my nerves were shot, and having a great trot across the two fields. The trip back down the hill was relatively uneventful, which was lovely. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Our first go at dressage!

As promised, here is the video footage of our first ever dressage test.

Even though it was amongst friends, and intended as a bit of fun, I was still SO nervous beforehand! Those four little letters are just terrifying - t.e.s.t ...

You will notice that my reins are a bit loopy - this was intentional, and intended to assist me keep them a consistent length. I have a habit of playing with my reins, letting them slip through my fingers, collecting them, and the circle continues. We weren't after collection here, just relaxation and a nice rhythm. I hope you'll agree that the rhythm side turned out pretty well. 

Comments on our sheet were as follows:
1. Nicely on centre line
2. Lovely fluid and free flowing trot
4. Good trot
7. Needs to show more stretch (he was supposed to walk out on free rein on the half 20m circle left rein, and I was quite surprised when he didn't stretch down as he's usually very good at it!)
9. Energetic transition (yep... we nearly took the judges out with us going into canter on that bottom corner haha)
10. A little forward (I was pleased he went up into the canter and maintained it, so I didn't try and tweak anything this time - that's something we will work on)
14. Broke early (didn't quite make the whole of the second shape, but again I was super pleased with his effort and he did drop into a lovely trot, so I decided to stick with it)
15. Good centre line
16. Lovely square halt

General comments:
Delightful youngster! Good paces, very forward. This could be controlled better going forward by better rein contact. Quietly ridden. When you both have more experience this looks promising!


Happy mummy. Happy Rio - look at his little face, he's adorable!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Positively Spring

The pole clinic went well! This is our first time over the new poles at Wendy's. Having done coloured poles before, it never struck me to take him over them before we started working with them. His beautiful bascule was from a trot, as he tried to keep us both safe from the blue and black pole monster! (Hubby says the poles are white and gold...!) When I took him back around to walk over it, he didn't want to go anywhere near it, but after 5 or 6 small figures of eight over the poles, we were all good. 

I definitely need to take Rio out off the yard for a hack this weekend, as we schooled on Monday night and this morning before the farrier visited. He worked very well both times, and has started to settle more in our outdoor arena. Or maybe that's me. We are working more consistently together, and I have been trying to work more on my breathing to enhance my communication with him. Bringing him down from trot to walk with a sigh along with my aids has proved to work well, but walk to halt still takes a little more. 

Today we did some canter work, and although the left rein was a little touch and go, his balance on the right rein was much better. We had a lovely rhythmic 3 beat canter from A, doing a 20m circle, and back up the long side, where I asked him back to trot before the corner. It was the first time I've felt able to ask him to collect a little, as opposed to getting him into the canter and letting him settle into the pace he wants to keep him in the canter! He is also responding much better to my carrying a schooling whip. It is only there for when he pushes through his shoulder, as he's lovely and forward anyway. He's really getting the hang of it now, and as soon as I touch it to his shoulder, he instantly straightens up and moves over. We even managed a bit of leg yield on both reins today (and once in trot too!)

Last night (much to Rio's dismay) was bath time as the temperatures had shot up. He was a bit of a fidget bum, but once he realised that the hose stayed on him no matter where he moved to, he eventually gave in. Well, for a couple of minutes anyway. Then he had to test it again. I did feel a bit bad, as by the end he was shivering as the temperature did seem to dip off all of a sudden. 10 minutes with his waffle rug did the trick to warm him back up again though, and he's lovely and soft today! 

I now have a copy of our dressage test, which I will be editing and uploading soon - super excited, you can see our super speedy dressage cantering antics!