Friday, February 1, 2013

Six Months Later... (a video comparison)

Last night S busted out the Dressage Tests and we started our lesson by seeing where we were at with them.  Truth be told I haven't run through a test since September so even though all components of our flatwork have improved dramatically, I haven't actually bothered to string them together in quite some time.

We opted for First Level Test 1 - which I like, but the extended canter tour was challenging for us last summer (FL2 is much, much more condensed and beneficial to our issues).

This isn't a perfect side by side comparison since last night I rode in the indoor which is a generous 15mx35m - a far cry from the correct 20x60 court...

The indoor is tight, which means that last summer I could barely execute the shallow trot loops in Training 3 without coming unglued, and smooshing in trot or canter lengthenings was all but impossible.

When I rode the test last night I felt much more in control and felt that Prairie was about a million times lighter in my hand.  I wasnt' oblivious to the many flaws, and moments of tension, but it did feel better.  At the end I even had a moment of "dammit, maybe we haven't actually gained that much ground" before I bothered to look at some video from last summer and realize that we have in fact improved drastically.

So without further ado, FL1 as ridden in a miniature arena on January 31st, 2013:

And for comparison and entertainment, FL1 as ridden at a schooling show last July:

Things that I notice:

The mare is less of a freight train.
We didn't scoot!
We can come back from canter lengthenings now
We have lighter transitions!
I can keep my butt in the saddle, and aren't getting rooted out of the tack!
Prairie is stepping under herself more.  Not perfectly, and not always straight, but more.

My reins are still long. (UGH).

Pretty fun to compare the two videos!  Nice to know that even when I'm (literally) going in circles, the hard work is starting to pay off...


  1. Well first, your horse is stunning. For some reason I couldn't get decent resolution on the recent video (I probably need to update something or other...) but I was really impressed with how steady and relaxed she is throughout it all. I noticed how nice the transitions were and I hadn't watched the July vidoe yet, so they aren't just nice by comparison - those are darn good transitions!

    I also liked your overall position and leg a LOT. I struggle with my leg, so I appreciate a nice one in others. Not that your position in July was bad by any stretch but, like you said, you are getting pulled by her like you were at some points. To me it looks like a combination of you being stronger and Prarie just being a lot softer in her response. Very, very nice!

    Your reins might be long but that doesn't seem to be a problem in terms of getting the response, so does it matter? (Asked in the tone that I really don't know a lot about dressage training). I get that in higher levels you might want a more collected or pole-high frame...but she seems so happy and fancy like this...

    I re-read your info on Prarie since I'm new to your blog and couldn't remember. You aren't kidding about her being "swinging" girl! Her hind end action is so big that at the walk she almost looks off, she steps under so much!

    1. Thanks! yeah, it's encouraging to see us playing tug-o-war a lot less. Also more fun without it :)

  2. Ugh.
    *AREN'T getting pulled by her like you were...

  3. You guys look awesome. Prairie is so fancy :)

  4. She's definitely more engaged. I also noticed that you're quieter with your hands, and that P2's a lot steadier in the contact. Neat comparison!

    Only complaint: I had to keep pausing the mini arena video to keep them in the same place :P

    1. Bah! I didn't even think about watching them at the same time... but that trick will work better when I actually ride the test in a correctly sized ring. Minor details!

  5. She really excels at the lengthen trot, canter, and free walk. I can see that she comes back much easier in the canter.

    The rein length does not bother me. Prairie will tell you when a shorter rein is comfortable for her as her balance shifts back. I would say, ride some shoulder-in with the long reins and see if she shifts herself back and puts a loop in the rein. Then you know that you can crawl up the reins an inch or two and not sacrifice connection or softness.


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