Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yowza! Debbie clinic


My clinics with Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez have really ratcheted up a notch.  She is on me like white on rice and when I think it's finally over she calls out, "Ok, let's pick up the reins and get her connected...."  and on we go.

It's a good thing she's pushing me hard I think.

We started immediately in our canter work focused on flying changes yesterday.  We started off on a figure 8 asking for a change in the middle of the figure.  If a change didn't happen, tickle with the whip... Sera likes to kick out with both hind feet for the changes.  When she kicks out, usually a change occurs.  Her kicks can be pretty big and they are ugly but never morphs into anything more or dangerous.

Seems like with all new things... they start out pretty ugly but once the muscle memory and how things have to happen gets learned, they get prettier and prettier.  No baby learning to walk ever starts off strutting like they are on a catwalk ya know? 

She seemed to "get" the change from right to left ok - not pretty but when she took one off my aids we called it good and started in on the changes from left to right.

Not so good.  Much kicking out behind but no changes....

Plan B.

20 meter circle in counter canter, simple change to walk with an IMMEDIATE haunches in on the circle,  and if Sera didn't move her ass over in response to my leg, there was a whip correction.  Straighten to normal bend on the circle, and begin again with counter canter.

Debbie said this was to get her 1. moving off my leg quicker vs. blowing me off and 2. gets her thinking about her hind end. 

Next came the change - I kept her in counter canter, half-halted and asked for a lead change, changing the bend of her neck with the inside rein and bringing my outside leg back.  If no change, tickle with the whip... still no change?, continue in counter canter... gather her up, half-halt and ask again. 


Sera was wet ears to tail as if I'd hosed her off when we were done.  She works SO hard for me.  I love, love, LOVE my mare. 

Debbie says I need to do something with changes EVERY time I ride... not the level of pressure we put on her yesterday but something to keep her thinking about it.   Gulp. 

I cooled her out indoors til she was breathing normally... put her cooler on and tied her up in the sun to dry off.   The girl trying Rosso brought him up... he was his normal bug-eyed, histrionic self.  Poor fella.  Must be hard living in his head where the hamster on the wheel is running at 180mph all the time.

I loaded them up and got home with plenty of daylight to spare.  Was a really fun ride and a good day.


Laura Crum said...

Hey Shanster, sounds like you are having fun. Us redneck western folks had a few tricks for teaching flying change, but I don't know if they would be "OK" from a dressage point of view. We would try asking for the change correctly, but if a horse was very resistant to it, we'd try a few things. One was the one stride at walk change. Two was the speed it up to the hand gallop through the middle of the figure eight and ask for the change. Three was put a little jump (I mean like a cavaletti) in the middle and ask for a change as the horse went over it. The general idea was to get the horse more comfortable with the change any way that was easy for him and then go back to asking correctly for it. I dunno if Debbie would think much of these tricks, though. But they would keep Sera thinking about changing.

Is Rosso home now?

Shanster said...

Hi Laura - yes! We've done the cavaletti with a change and she will offer a quick change with one walk stride (she did a few of those in the clinic and it was fine because she did them so quietly with no kicking) ... she is SO close to gettting it.

Know it sounds odd but Sera really fights things that are new .. no matter how kindly you introduce them. It's been that way from the beginning with her. She really IS my red-headed mule. grin.

She handles new things and the pressure much better now that she is older. More willing, but it is Sera to voice her opinion of such things...

Sometimes when we are doing shoulder in on a circle she will flying change pretty as you please, no kick, no fuss, so smooth I hardly know it even happened... a light little skip...only I didn't ASK for it.

This is the first time I've ridden/learned flying changes. Everyone who has taught them before tells me horses can have some interesting reactions to them by way of evasions etc.

I don't know cuz it's my first time 'round and I've got nothing else to base it on!

See western and dressage not such different toolboxes. :) Caveletti and walk strides used in both....

Shanster said...

And yes, Rosso is home. Both he and Sera seem pretty happy about it!

DebH said...

gad girl your talking over my head, BUT you definitely know what your talking about! I can tell your having the best times with your mare though and I am so glad your family is happy together. Its gotta make you feel more comfortable knowing where and what he's up to...right under your very nose. Plus, I bet Sera missed him so now shes just lots more settled. Good job on your lessons, you do Great!

Laura Crum said...

I totally don't mean to discourage you, but way back when, when I trained quite a few western horses, I had horses that if you changed direction they would do the flying change every time, and at least one horse who would NEVER do a flying change--and I worked with him a long time and tried every trick I knew. Other more accomplished folks couldn't get him to do one either. A simple change in one stride was the best he ever did. And I had every variation in between those two extremes. My Gunner horse didn't like flying changes, but he would do them if I gave a non-subtle cue. He never did really pretty ones, and I had to work a long time on it to get him reasonably solid. I think if Sera does them at all you'll get there in the end. Its funny, most horses I know change better from right to left than from left to right.

Shanster said...

I'm not at all discouraged! I really think if Sera was a lost cause people would have broken it to me by now. No one seems concerned at all with the progression so far. And many who have ridden upper levels and many more horses than me have said they've seen worse reactions schooling them.

I am limited in experience in my own sport as well as other sports - I know dressage doesn't ask for flying changes til Third level which is generally much longer down the training path than for other english riding sports - sounds like western too.

If you watch the top jumper, dressage or reining horses....the horses carry themselves much differently from one another even tho all those sports require high skill sets....and are amazing to watch.

A gymnast will be built, train and move different than a ballerina yet they both reach their goals and perform what they need to perform and look great.

Not that this means any other chosen sport is right or wrong. Grin

I'm totally fine with the concern cuz I know in my life I've had other riders in other disciplines tell me they do the flying changes so much earlier and easier even back when I was riding Brandon, my 32 yr old deceased guy....

It is a sport specific thing the way it's brought in later in the game....judges looking for different pieces.

I sure appreciate different views, methods and experiences tho - it all so interesting and makes one think! Thinking is always good. Grin. Pretty cool that is for sure!

Shanster said...

Hi Deb, yes, it's nice to have the bugger home! We really are having a lot of fun....sure love my mare. Cheers!