|My group from Winter Camp|
The weekend of January 22-23, 2015 was my Horsemasters/Pony Club's Winter Camp. It was suppose to be Jan 2-3 but really cold rainy weather postponed the clinic until the 22nd. The clinician/camp instructor was Jamie Price, an upper level eventer who is wintering in this area until the first of April.
Flat/Dressage Lesson on Saturday Recap
******Pictures below are not from the Winter Camp- I didn't get any riding pictures from the first day so to break up text I give you random other Dressage pictures!*******
We were suppose to have 2 lessons on Saturday but rainy weather on Friday created a 2 hour delay in the schedule and leaving only enough time for everyone to have 1 lesson. My group was the first to go and there were 4 of us cramped into a large dressage area. It actually worked out really well because we had to be mindful of each other and keep our horses in control. Jamie had us all trot around the arena and think about how our horses were going. Are they moving off our leg? Are they to quick (ok this wasn't anyone in our group- we had LAZY ponies!!!) From there she wanted us to work on making our horses more adjustable using our seat and legs. Simple enough but an exercise that can be easily forgotten about.
|Gus is Mr Fancy Pants Dressage Pony|
As we were trotting around, Jamie wanted us to use our post to change the length of our horses trot. If you wanted to shorten their stride you simply posted more up instead of forward and really used your legs to keep them engaged and not let them break to a walk. To lengthen their strides we had to post more forward and think of posting with our hips going through our hands. (Ok she said it much more eloquently but it's a week and a day after the lesson and I've forgotten her exact words) Chimi is really good about listening to my seat so this exercise was really easy for him. But it was really fun to watch the green TB in the lesson progress from being tight and choppy to starting to stretch more through his top line and become comfortable within his gaits. He has a short neck to begin with but once his rider stopped worrying about trying to get him in a frame and just work on his rhythm and responsiveness he settled down and came round on his own accord. This is all information that has been drilled in my head time and time again so I didn't learn anything new per say, but I love watching it work every time. With green horses this is such an important step in their training so that later on you're not having to back pedal and go oh crap, guess I forgot to teach him how to listen to me!
|Marley in a rare Dressage-y moment|
Since the basic working trot to short trot, back to working trot, then to lengthening trot was super easy for Chimi, we started to skip the working trot and just go from short trot to lengthening trot and then back to short trot. This was great because I had to keep myself from flopping all over the place and keep Chimi connected so he wouldn't lose his balance. He was such a good boy and stayed responsive to my seat the whole time. Sometimes Chimi ignores my half halts and just runs through me but having to shorten and then lengthen really had him much more responsive and he was listening instead of charging around. I think this will be great thing to keep in mind at shows because he's so busy looking at everything going on that hopefully this'll help him focus on me and we'll be able to put in a descent dressage test!!!! Guess we'll find out soon enough if this plan will work or not!
|Gus and I at an FRC Show- photo by Erik Olsen Photography|
After everyone was happy with their trot work we continued with this exercise in the canter. Chimi was good but started to lose his balance in the corners and would swap behind. I think the sloppy footing contributed to this being more of an issue because it felt like he would slip and then catch him self by swapping behind. I'm also working on strengthening his hind end because he doesn't have a lot of strength back there. Changing his trim really helped with the swapping behind back in December and he went from always swapping to only swapping when I got him out of balance. So I really do think that the swapping he was doing in the lesson was a result from the slippery footing. Even with that, he was really good at listening to my seat and when I'd ask him to go forward he would and then came back when I slowed my hips down. Shortening his canter stride back after lengthening it was the trickiest for us but I think it is more of s strength issue than a listening one. He tried to but with the arena being a Large Dressage ring we only has 60 meters to do all of that in and not run into the other horses PLUS he's a BIG horse! He's really quick for his size but he's not tiny and compact. There is a lot of horse to slow down! This is something we'll be working on at home so that if I decide to take him to straight dressage shows we'll be ready for first level!
|Mom's horse Alec at NC State's IDA Show- loved this horse!|
I ended up writing a lot more about the flat lesson than I thought I was going to so I'm going to break this post up into two parts.... Sunday Jumping Recap later with video- didn't bring my camera the first day :(