Saturday, March 17, 2012

Some Dress-age.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to practice a "real" dressage test with Jackie. In April she is doing a dressage show to practice for her first event in May (Queeny Park).

I wanted to do work before we both left for a week for Spring Break. I think the pony will enjoy the down time, since he's been worked almost 6 days a week since January, but since the show is the 2nd weekend in April, and we get back on the 30th, time is running out!

Yankee was NOT amused when he heard our plans.

Did I mention it was 82 degrees? Again. in March. I'm dying.

My plan was to watch her warm up and give her some tips from the Claudia clinic last weekend. I don't remember if I ever explained what she had me work on, so I'll give you a quick run down.

Since Yankee is an OTTB he is always crooked and stuck to the right. Even after 7 years, he STILL struggles to the right and gets hella tense in the neck and shoulders, cricks his head, crooked in the barrel, and opposite crooked in his haunches.
Exibit A:

Oh man. What a disaster.

I've tried everything in the book to keep him from doing that. (Look at my header photo. Can you see the crooked head in dressage?) We always get lower scores to the right, and its SO frustrating. Nothing I've tried has worked though, until Claudia came along last weekend.

She had me put him on a circle and take up a very strong (but giving) hold on the outside rein ONLY. The inside rein had minimal contact and was only used for half halts where needed. OK, so on the circle. We started at the canter since that is his easier gait. Oustide rein, STRONG inside leg (full contact, not just calf/heel), encouraging him to pick up that inside shoulder and barrel and counterbend him to the outside. The goal was to use counterbend to straighten/lengthen his frame. Confusing right?

It was at first to me. BUT, since Yankee does not respond to half halts on the inside rein, both rein contact, leg yeilding to straighten, keyhole method, etc etc. The inside leg, drop inside rein, contact outside rein to counterbend was almost like MAGIC. Its very hard to explain and not be able to demo, but basically, using inside leg with the outside rein contact in a pulsing motion, encouraged him to straighten his whole body, lifted his back, lengthened his frame and reeeeally let him stretch into the contact.

The results were crazy good. He responded so well to this excercise, and even though he was only able to lift his back and actually be straight for more than 3 strides, it was a step forward!!

Jackie demonstrating the "Claudia" method. You can see his nose tipped, but he hasnt quite swung his barrel over, however, he is actively moving forward.

We worked on that for about 15 minutes. Jackie got the hang of it! While she finished her warm up, I drug about a million poles in place to make a make-shift dressage ring. I was ridiculously sore from kickboxing the day before (gotta get sexual for FL) and it was basically torture. Oh, what I do for horses/friends. After I got them in place, I realized I made the ring about 15 m too short. Yeah, F that, we went ahead and practiced in a tiny ring.

Gettin that walk sexual

I LOVE this trot :)

Really reaching!

canter lovelies

Active walk: accomplished.

Relax Yankee, reeeelaaaaaxxxxxx

During the practice test, LOVE the uphill-ness here

Can we please talk about how nice jackie's position is here?

Butt muscles!!! Stomach Muscles!!!

Collecting back up from the free walk

Overall, it was a great school. hot, but productive. Jackie got the run down of a basic training level test, and Yankee got used to her riding him in a test. Jackie also worked on her position in the dressage saddle, since she rarely rode in one.

Love mah pohnee

1 comment:

  1. I don't know much about dressage but he looks great. So doesn't Jackie.


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