Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In the Arena #54 - If he ain't reaching - you ain't driving

It's been a crazy week. In the good column, Val and I got three rides in, thanks to a string of beautiful days.

In the not-so-good column, my lab / pit mix Sweetpea needed an emergency vet visit to figure out why she suddenly wouldn't bear weight on one of her front legs. She was in severe pain, didn't want to venture off of the couch or head outside for walks, and most alarming of all wouldn't lift her head up to lick out the yogurt container. X-rays revealed no cancer - the worst case scenario - at least no cancer that could be detected yet. An arthritis / orthopedic issue is what we're treating her for, so she's temporarily on an assortment of meds - an anti-inflammatory + stomach easer + pain med + she gets to share Val's adequan. 48 hours later she is moving well with good energy, back to aggressively begging, and no more pitiful whimpering. Fingers crossed that I can keep her comfortable. She suffers from Cushing's which besides shortening her life span, complicates treating her for any other condition. Glad to have her back at home and back to normal. I love my Sweetest Pea :)


Wednesday was a repeat of Monday - a really fun ride and another faulty video attempt. Things were going so well that I kind of forgot about the camera, and ended up with over ten minutes of trot work recorded. Ten minutes is t-o-o long. Too long to download, too long to upload, (too long to watch unless you're me)! It took about 45 minutes to get it loaded into the more modern photo program that came with my camera - with hopes that I could edit it down. Once in the program I failed to accomplish editing anyway... just didn't have the attention span for the poorly written manual, and not enough energy to pursue trial and error ;)

I learned a lot from watching the (excessive) footage. Still prone to off-to-the leftness, leg aids are far from subtle and we've got a long way to go in the energy department.  I know the solution: forward + half halts + soft even continuous elastic contact. What remains is to consistently put it into practice. On a positive note, we kept up a sustained trot with changes of rein through numerous school figures, smoothly, as well as some lovely loose rein stretchy trot. Having the camera going was much like having someone observe my ride. It was a very helpful tool to keep me focused on the details of my position - knowing I could see the results afterwords.


It's Saturday morning now - and while I wait for youtube to finish uploading my video (hopefully), I'll finish up this post. Yesterday's ride was very productive, continuing our happy trend. After warming up, we did more trot work. I kept the focus on half halting to rebalance, and maintaining steady contact. I think it's time to take up more contact, and we'll explore that in our next ride. A few months ago I was getting a lot of head tossing/ protesting from Val, which generally meant too much contact for the amount of energy - and I needed to encourage him forward with my legs. Now that we've got the energy level increasing, I suspect I need to modify the contact to match - to give him a place to reach to.

Trot work will be the story of our lives for a while I think. As the footing has allowed, I have gradually increased the amount of time working at the trot hoping to improve Val's fitness and stamina. (Holy cow - I need to build stamina also - twenty minutes of non-stop posting had me sucking a bit of wind the other day!) When I got Val he was lacking topline and his haunches needed filling out, although his on-the-forehand way of going had kept his front end pretty beefy. Thoughtful dressage training will help Val fulfill his potential - beautifying his build and movement under saddle.

Yes - the video worked! Have a great weekend everyone :)


  1. I love how your video opens with Val's butt randomly popping into the frame. *LOL*

    I thought he looked pretty good. I did think I saw a touch of "bridle lameness", that comes from not being forward enough. You already know that needs work. Your plan of "forward + half halts + contact" will do the trick. You might also try walk trot transitions. I like them for getting the horse off the forehand and getting the energy and contact.

    I never thought of setting up the camera somewhere to video myself. That's a good idea!

  2. So cute! Sorry, I can't help it. Hope you aren't offended but you and Val look adorable together.
    That could be Rogo and I in the video - more forward and contact needed, but generally doing well. I've picked up a bit more contact as of the last ride and it worked well. He actually got a little more forward.
    So nice to see you riding. After reading about your bad experience early on, on the trail, you've done wonders to have such a calm, well behaved, safe horse.
    Keep posting the videos!

  3. So sorry to hear about your sick pup. So glad to hear about your good work with Val.

  4. Hope you get to the bottom of your pup's problems. That is scary.

    Glad you've been having good rides and awesome to see that you got the video thing figured out :)

  5. Glad you figured out the video it was nice to see you and Val riding. I'm not a critiquer I leave that for the trainers. Val is just too cute, you know I love the greys and his butt is cute in the beginning of the video.

    Hope Sweat Pea recovers quickly and it's nothing serious. Fingers crossed for you both.

    Hope you have lots of good rides this week.

  6. I hope your Sweetpea is feeling better soon. It is scary when you don't know what is going on. My Lab, Jet, had a bird's feather (quill) jabbed way up in her paw and she couldn't walk and it didn't show up on x-rays. Finally, it ejected, but we had some weird mysterious weeks wondering why she wouldn't walk or eat. It hurt her every step!

    Love the video.

  7. Sorry about Sweetest Pea. I hope she gets to feeling back to normal soon.
    Love that you posted video. I LOVE to see the people and their horses that I read about in action. Val is such a pretty boy!

  8. I really loved the video - I got caught up in the sounds in the background - the birds singing and dogs barking - and my dogs answering. :)

    Glad to hear that Sweet Pea is comfortable again - it's tough when our beloveds have bad days.

    I noticed last week that Kyra Corgi was seeming stiff so I decided it's time to add the glucosamine and chondroitin combo I have the two senior horses on, and within two days she got so much more mobile - has been playing wildly with Bear again.

    Next up is probably putting MYSELF on the combo!

  9. Shannon-

    One day I'll be able to edit lol.

    Regarding bridle lameness, the bobbing you saw is likely due to the very uneven footing. You can't see it well in the video. Val
    stepped into some deeper spots in the arena here and there. My dragging equipment is out of commission at the moment :)


    We don't mind being cute at all ;) Now that I've stabilized my fear issues, I think I'm finally okay with asking for more energy and power - I'm really excited about developing Val's gaits - I know we look a little ploddy right now :)

    Rachel, Dom, GHM, Juliette and Amy-

    Thanks so much for the healthy dog thoughts. Sweetpea lunged at the cat and got playful with Buster the neighbor dog this morning -I think she's feeling better :)


    I forgot to mention when I listed Sweetpea's meds - I've got her on OsteoBiflex as well. I had actually bought it for myself ;)

  10. I can tell you that I too learn so much from watching my own videos, even if they bore everyone else, and it looks like not too much is actually happening. I can see most clearly in my last video, for example, how my mare's head is all strung out and not collected at all! Rats! I loved watching your video too. I am also jealous of what looks like warm temps!

  11. I've struggled with the software that came with my video camera as well. I still haven't figured it out and you're right about poorly written manuals. I suppose I need to put more time into it to be successful but patience and I don't live in the same realm when it comes to techy things.

    Hope things continue to improve with Sweet Pea.

  12. C! What an incredible video! So clear and crisp. You , trotting with Val to the mounting block, perfectly cute! I do these things too.
    Val is so polar opposite from my mare. My clinitians all are telling me to "keep up"..I try to post smaller, to get her to slow..but it makes her mad and hinders her.Circles and half halts for us!
    I have only one question-but will e-mail you.

    I'm so glad that you found something to keep Your Sweetest Pea feeling better. Sorry for the stress of that...they are are family too and it truly does hurt when they hurt~

    Loved this!!! Love your sand arena too. My mare would do well there, she is extrememly opionated over her school environment!


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