Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In the Arena #142 - Threw me for a loop...

(warning - long catch-up post ahead)

I am so not good with control issues. No - really. Not good. Another in your face horsemanship lesson. Lame horse + lame weather really got me down. I couldn't fix Val - I couldn't pinpoint what was wrong - and I was mostly stuck in the Shimmy Shack worrying - for a flipping month. There certainly was plenty of time for blogging, but my heart was not in it. All better now.

During the incarceration, there was also plenty of time to review video of our last few rides before Val went off. Who knew you could obsess over look at video frame by frame? I should have explored my editing software a long time ago. Initially there was the lure of lifting stills, but soon I realized how the technology could fill the gap of my current lack of instructor.

Biggest revelation *eye roll* - my contact was not steady... not consistent. The tension on the reins came and went. Bouncy. At times I had so much contact on the outside rein that I pulled the bit through Val's mouth. This tells me that in my efforts not to pull him around, I am (still) abdicating contact on the inside rein. Classic over-compensator. Not a new issue for me, but one I must figure out how to conquer.

A good thing - the absolute instant that I looked up, asked for more energy and felt the reins through my bent, point, heavy elbows Val's back came up and he reached into the contact. The bad thing - it literally only happened for an instant at a time. (at least I'm not totally imagining it lol)

Slack in reins, sticking out butt and leg turned out
Chair seat, piano hands
Better, but leg too far back
New header pic!

It is really helpful to be able to isolate moments in time and then have continuity also. I usually know what I should be doing, but have struggled with position issues that are hard to nail down without eyes on the ground. I think I am asking one thing, but my pesky body puts it's two cents in. Poor Val. Now I am hopeful that I can close the feedback loop occasionally.

We've begun a rehab program consisting of weekly mini trims (by me) and working on the nearby paved road to ramp up the circulation in Val's feet. Life in the sand paddock + arena hasn't done him any favors. I want the landing toe first business to end. The beginning of the walk is over some gravel, and on our first trip he buckled when we hit that stretch. Definitely ouchy. This week he seems more comfortable, and very happy to be out and about. Licking and chewing while clip clopping alongside of me. The occasional patch of tasty greens doesn't hurt either.

On the training front, there is some hopeful news. My friend N (we studied with the same trainer for years) has found a woman who teaches in the style of Mary Wanless - biomechanics and position oriented. My plans to try her out were foiled this month, so we'll try again in April. It's a bit of a road trip, but should be fun with company, and doable on a monthly basis. Fingers crossed...

We've had a few decent rides despite the weather and Val's feet. One was a bareback in the halter with exceptional steerablilty - first time that's happened. And yesterday we had a full length schooling session, bareback again. I focused on being consistent with the contact, and ended up working on no stirrup posting. (sore today) The solid month of no work has done a number on Val's topline, affecting his comfort under saddle, so for the time being we'll be barebacking. Fine with me - my seat is so much better without the saddle.

Spring is here :D
*Thanks to our new followers - there have been a number of you lately. I have tried to locate and visit everyone whose blog I can find. If I haven't found your blog, please leave a link in the comments. :D


  1. The video sounds like a great idea. I could use some of that! It's so deceiving isn't it, what you think you're doing and what you're really doing.
    The pictures are great. To be honest, I think they all look pretty good, but your selection for a new banner picture is great. You guys have come a long way.
    Glad you're over your writer's block. I've been in that mode too.

  2. Isn't it mind boggling how that works "The uneven road will make your horse lame, but also in the long run make them sound.." I hope everything works out for Val.

  3. Don't be so hard on yourself. (I should talk). I hope it works out with the new trainer.

  4. Video and pics are SO helpful (although mine always make me cringe, lol!). Nothings beats eyes on the ground @ the moment, but be able to review things yourself and actually SEE what you were doing is an incredible training tool.
    I LOVE Mary Wanless! She's amazing. I found a trainer who actually trains with her and Heather Blitz, and hope to be able to take some lessons with him soon. :-)

  5. Lovely Daffs! They are always so cheery :)

    Could you get a mirror for your arena? You'd have instant feedback rather than stepping slowly through a video.

  6. Glad you are getting in rides again and having fun with Val. And that he's back to normal with that hoof!

  7. It's amazing how much video's help, my mum takes video's for me when she can and it really helps me to look more at how I'm sitting etc.

  8. I love going back and watching my riding videos (especially when I was competing back in the day). It is really helpful to be able to go back and see the things you need to work on. I hope you like the new trainer! Can't wait to hear about your lesson!

  9. LOVE the new header pic! Don't be too hard on yourself. :-) I admire your focus on wanting to get it right, not only for you but for Val. You two are a great team. Videos are a wonderful tool. Fingers crossed that you are able to visit the trainer in April.

    Thanks for the picture of the daffodils - we just got another 10cm of snow here, so the reminder that Spring isn't that far off is nice. :-)

  10. Video is the best. Glad you're feeling better and in the blogging spirit again!

  11. Look at the pictures again where you criticize your position (we all need to sit down and really criticize ourselves frame by frame. Our horses would love us for it!)...Val IS lifting his back...see the abdominal line? He's using himself...not as well as he could, but he's not completely schlumping along.

  12. If only you were perfect!!! :)
    I believe that we are always our own worst critics. I was once told to treat (and speak to) myself as if I were talking to someone else. Try it, you'll find you're much kinder and more supportive.

  13. It will be wonderful to be able to take lessons again!

    I wouldn't worry too much about the piano hands; Val clearly likes the contact you are providing in that picture. He looks great!

  14. Videos are a great training tool to see what we'd like to change. I think you look pretty good and love your header picture. As others have said don't be so hard on yourself. Training and working on our riding is a process and I don't think anyone is ever 100 percent perfect. That's what keeps us trying. I hope you like your new trainer and the lessons are fun and helpful.

    Wish we had some giggly daffodils here. Just had another snow storm so the first day of Spring isn't so sring like.

  15. Love the new header. Good for you for studying your videos!

  16. I've been enjoying your blog. Best of luck with your new trainer. I'd love to find someone who teaches similar to MW. If you fix the rider, you fix the horse. I think we're all ready to fire the groundhog, let's hope for decent weather before too long.

  17. OH C!!! Wonderful catching up news, from your front of the world!

    Yea, that frame by frame stuff, doesn't lie too much, huh!
    I just watched a video with my sister helping the Wa and me in her most disliked arena. She rodeo'd and I got her to quit somehow...then we cantered, my sister reminded me of where my leg should be, as I was pushing my toes into the stirrups, and my leg moved forward.
    "Two Point". "it will always show you where your knee is, and where it should be", is what she said on the video.
    I try to do it spontaneously, and randomly..does the trick for settling the point!

    LOVE*** your header, and what it represents in growth! You are embarking on some super times, I FEEL IT** by the sounds of company to lessons, and her style of teaching. Loved that news.

    I too have found someone, and a horse that will allow me to take lessons. D'apple. Right now, I have new legs and arms- via D'ap and my lessons.
    I have been dying to post about it, but some control issues( happening to me) have retarded my esteem.

    Living vicariously through you!
    The scrinchy smile, was over the top cute!

  18. Love to hear about the walking - good for hooves and hearts and companionship. So nice for our horses to have us beside them on walks.

    Also, great bareback riding - choosing Val's comfort over your own. Love that. I wish my seat was better bareback on Foggy. I ride well on the other two, but on Foggy I am a total mess.

    Happy daffodils! Soon here hopefully! Enjoy it all!


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