Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Obession.

"o hay, i am yankee thee horse. i very cute. cute enuff to get foods. feed me some treet foods and i will luv you fore-evers. see? luk at mah cute tong? I steek it out fer treat foods."

[Disclaimer: This post is about to be epically extensive with several photos and explanations of thus. This is my last day before the clusterF of work-college-riding juggle begins and I may not be able to ride or post as often as I would like. Catch it....22.]

Why didn't I think of this before? Instead of making someone suffer at the end of the camera that a) is crappy and doesn't take very good pictures and b) is very tempermental and won't zoom in or out well, I can just take video in small segments and then take video still from that! HOT damn I've done it. I am so smart, I mean no one has thought of this before me and I am intellectually superior than others :P

Anyways, this has proved to be a irreplaceable training tool. I used vid stills for Yankee free jumping the other day and today I took some from his lunging sesh and our workout. They can be grainy, but I am not looking to put them in a frame on the wall, merely to use as a training tool.
I got an amazing b-day present from my old (not in age :P) dressage instructor, Connie, to help me out with MY position in relation to Yankee's training. It is a book called "Centered Riding 2" which plays on a riders balance and how it affects the horse and how they move.
The first chapter was all about realizing your center/balance and reeeeally feeling where your body is on the horse. That's all I did today too (espechially since I haven't ridden in over 6 days). I felt exactly where my seatbones were and how much weight was on each. I felt the weight and placement of my feet in the stirrups. I was exceptionally conscious of where my head and hands were as well as if I was correctly aligned. I have an awful habit of pushing my feet out in front of me and sucking back in the hips. This was my defense against Yankee being a retard baby off the track. But now since he is grown and *perfect* I need to ditch this in a bad way. We worked on it :)

My barn slave, Brandon (and Mr. Goofins himself). He cleans stalls, tosses hay, sweeps aisles, dumps manure, moves jumps, feeds horses, measures supplements, takes countless videos/pics and grooms my horse!! He is awesome. You should get a Brandon, they are very helpful.

Yankee's AMAZING tail that I obsess over and make sure it is always lush & gorgeous. I bag it in the winter (sometimes summer if he is on day turnout) and apply cowboy magic/ wash it as much as possible. I wash it every 2 weeks in summer with human shampoo (less harsh & expensive) and apply cowboy magic every other day. I rarely brush it since that pulls out hairs. Just look at that tail :)

I tried a new technique today I have seen Cheryl use on her babies. After running the lunge line through his inner bit ring, I clipped it to his girth ring so that when his head is perpendicular with the ground, the line will be straight. It barely has an effect on his mouth when he is stretching long and low, since it is free to slide through the bit ring but gives him just enough incentive, along with the loose side reins, to be soft through his back. And look at the results! Stretching down and forward, stretch & impulsion evident in all 4 of his legs, freedom of shoulder, and ROUND back (look behind the saddle pad)

I like him to warm up long& low since it stretches out that topline and frees up his muscles everywhere. I think he likes it, and it is evident in the pictures. His ears are listening, his poll is soft and he is stretching forward (even in the canter!), his haunches/back legs are engaged, his shoulders are swinging, and his back is round. Yanks goes better to the left for obvious reasons (OTTB), so I rarely warm him up more than 10 min on this side.

OK so this pic is from when I asked him to "trot ON". This is what he gives me and holy beans is that nice! I wish we could get this amount of relaxation& impulsion, all in one package, in the saddle. He is not stretching forward or down but to me that is a-ok. Those legs are worthy of Totilas (ok maybe not thaaat much, but hey) and he remains relaxed through the back, actively engaged and on the bit with barely any contact. Look closely at the lunge line and side reins-slack!

Again! Same as before, slack reins all around and that front foot is miles in front of his nose. His haunches are lowered even. You can see his shoulder muscle ripple, and that back end is so active! Proud :)

He looks angry in this still shot but I promise he isn't. Since the vid still is grainy, his ears are just too pixalated and are missing, lol. All I can say about this pic is, what a rounded back you have my dear. All the better for building muscle! His back is so round I can almost see the saddle getting pushed up. Still relaxed too, just not as much impulsion as I would like, but I'll take a round back any day.

Same thing here as before in all the pics. I am super proud since this is his stiff direction on the lunge.

In my attempt to keep my hands in the straight line line-elbow-to-bit (SLETB), I have raised them 2 inches too high. Otherwise I think I look pretty ok. However, he is on light contact and actively walking. This was one of his better walks we have ever had, wish ya'll could see the video. I always wish his back was more round, but after a year or so off, he lacks the muscling to do it as much as he can without me adding weight. We will get there :)

nailed it in this picture, all around. Yankee looks fantastic. Round back (eeeee!), on the bit, actively swinging and pushing. I am perfectly SLETB, shoulders back, eyes up, and have a straight line from ear to elbow to hip to heel (EEHH). Textbook :)

Love his tail, lol. Oddly, he is stiffer this direction in the saddle, even though he is looser and more relaxed on the lunge the other way. Hard to see my position but I look a little off center. Could be my clothes, his gait, or that I am. He looks just as good as the previous pic.

Sadly, you can't see much of anything in this....blurry. But from what I can see, I look straight EEHH, and he looks active, relaxed and free flowing. We were doing a 20m. circle at the trot.

This is how he reacts to a reminder from the whip to stay engaged. Really picks up that inside hind, which is good, thats what I was going for. At the same time though, he looks angry. He does manage to stay on the bit & round over his back which is good. Typical Yankee wanting to get out of work and scoffing at being reminded to carry himself. I have stayed straight EEHH and bit to mouth & am not looking down at all! All the concentration is paying off!

Yay canter! Since this is coming off his 'up' stride, I look like I am leaning ahead, but really I am just going with the canter motion. I studied the videos and truly this is all it is. Yankee looks great, as he has been. Continously round, soft and active.

I think I will continue to have my barn slave, er, Brandon, my tape sessions for us as it allows in hopes of furthering our progress! Mine and his. Once again thanks to Connie for the book, it is already helping!


  1. Huh. I bet Brandons are hard to find. Enjoy yours!

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  3. I'm going to try that with Greta's tail. It was gorgeous when I got it, and it's kind of... let itself go :(

    As for the riding, absolutely crazy!!!

  4. Brandon's are hard to find! I love mine :) He does everything without me asking, which is super awesome.
    As for crazy? crazy as in good I hope? lol

  5. I like that longe line trick! I'm gonna try that with my girl.

    LOL, I have a Wayne, and they are just as good as a Brandon. You're right though, hard to find, so I'm not letting mine go, EVER.

  6. I saw your Wayne, and he looks just as good as any Brandon :P He even rides your klein mare!
    AS for the longe, its a neat thing! I would def. try it