Sunday, 15 June 2014

What a week - Part One

After our brilliant session with Warren last week I wanted to set up another one pretty quickly. The opportunity came yesterday and so I leapt (no pun intended!) at the chance to go to his yard. I was hugely excited as I got so much from the clinic last week and could tell very quickly that Warren has a great eye for identifying exactly what you are riding and I am very much in need of some fine tuning.

Warren very quickly identified an essential flaw in our plan - Buddy is behind the leg and I sit too correctly (never been told that before!) and as a result as soon as Buddy drops behind the leg, I immediately ask him to move forward - if he doesn't respond then I use my heel which drops my shoulder and makes me tip forward which immediately makes my position ineffective and I've got no hope. It also means that it is difficult for Buddy to engage behind and really use his back end, especially when jumping and my weight is forward and on his shoulder. 

We spent some time working on getting me sat with my shoulders slightly behind my hips and ensuring that each time I asked for forward with my calf I got it. If I didn't then I had to immediately give a kick by the girth and get a forward response - ideally in the gait higher than the one I'd asked for. It was alien to both of us but Buddy quickly got what we were looking for, even though it was quite hard work!

Warren jumping Buddy
I struggled far more with the exercise - Warren likened it to trying to rub your head and pat your tummy whilst also trying to ride! I will need to work hard to make this a subconscious change and it is a fine line between encouraging forward motion and becoming defensive so once this does become subconscious I will still need to pull back and focus on it occasionally to ensure it is correct.

We jumped some fences, making sure I kept my shoulders back coming in to the fence and that I left Buddy alone in the last few strides (I have a habit of chasing and kicking on take off). I wasn't quite getting it right so Warren asked me to walk until 2 strides before the fence and then trot which equaled a much better jump! I then had the feeling I needed and we made a bit of a course - there was the odd sticky jump when I didn't get it right but when I concentrated it made a massive difference to the jump. 

Pingy Pony
Warren then asked if he could have a sit on Buddy to make sure he felt the way he looked. He spent some time making him forward - working on walk to canter to make him sit. He said that Buddy wasn't loading his shoulders evenly which was stopping him from taking a contact on the outside and that, on the right rein, he hangs on that inside rein. I'd felt this for a while but wondered if it was just me as I am wonky and the issue goes when I've done lots of small circles (and of course he is then loading his shoulders evenly and sitting more...!) and worked on that engagement. But Warren continued to ask the questions and Buddy kept finding more evasions (the sign of a good horse according to Warren!!). Eventually (after a few circles) Warren was happier and he popped him over a couple of fences and I managed to get some pics. He thought he was a good horse and with a bit of work we can do everything I want to which was great to hear.

We have another session booked (xc this time) on 25th June so I have just over a week to practise everything and hopefully Warren will see an improvement. In the meantime we have a busy week ahead - lesson with Sara-Jane Lanning on Tuesday, XC clinic with Ginny Howe on Wednesday and then we're off XC schooling with a fellow Rockley Rehab - so be prepared for a whole host of blogs this week - I'm hoping to have at least two more for you (depending on photographers available).

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