Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Outside, Outside, Outside LEG!

This week I need to cram as much productive riding in as possible, since Sunday I leave (again) with some friends to go spend the 4th over in Idaho (again). 

It's a lovely looking calendar (full of BBQ's and rodeos), but it does mean that I'll be getting home approximately 42 hours before we go to our second schooling show and won't have much time to "fix" any lingering issues.

As a result, I'm trying to address those issues now and we've been schooling the tweedle out of our canter (both our transitions and also getting a jumpier-bouncier-more-consistent-canter) as well as anything that forces me to really ride my outside aids honestly and consistently. 

Re-balacing the saddle and my new (softer) boots have been hugely helpful in having a more effective leg.  The combo of putting me in the right spot and allowing a better feel of what I'm actually doing is setting me up for much needed improvement. 

As much as I love the stiff support of my dress boots, they leave me a little out of touch with Prairie's sides and trick me into feeling like I have a more supportive leg than I actually do (no bueno).

But, as G.I. Joe says, "knowing is half the battle" and sadly, it seems to be the easier half....  As such S has been working a series of exercises designed to hold me accountable with my outside leg.  My favorite thus far is a nice little warm up piece that makes me work, makes the mare listen and in theory packages us both up nicely. 

Down the long side, haunches in before E/B,
Half circle to the centerline (8ish meters in the indoor.. technically I guess that's a half volte) maintaining the haunches in,
Finish with a leg-yield back to the rail, as straight as possible.  

The haunches-in to start gets the mare reaching underneath her and also sets up my outside leg before I have to use it to support the half-circle.  The haunches-in during the half-circle makes the mare stretch and sit back, lightening her forehand - and for me it means I have to exaggerate my outside leg support.  It also means that I can't collapse my ribcage in to the center of the circle.  because as soon as I do, I lose the haunches.... (All of my best tricks! defeated!!)

Once through the half-circle, P2 is firmly in my outside rein, but I have to work a bit in order to straighten her long, Loch Ness self out before beginning the leg yield.  If she starts to drift laterally before I straighten everything out, It's hard for me to recover any semblance of straightness.

Because the exercise automatically reverses the direction, there's a nice flow between working off the left rein and then the right rein.  Our first couple rides were a little disorganized, but after a few reps I felt like I had Prairie shortened up, sitting down a bit more and very contained in my aids. 

There were a few bobbles here and there, but overall we improved from repetition to repetition and kept both of us thinking.  The exercise is officially filed away for future use... 

We finished the ride schooling some flying changes over a pole in the middle of a figure-eight.  Started in the trot... then moved to the canter, trotting a simple change over the pole - then we maintained the canter, asking for a flying change at the pole.  We got some really nice changes, some sloppy ones, and had more than a few semi-tragic moments.

Moral of the story?  If I keep my outside leg on during the approach, straightened her before the pole and kept her forehand light - well, then we got a clean change. 

But if I dropped my outside leg, let her get strung out or didn't get her straight for the switch - well, then we had a less than pleasing result.

Nothing shocking about that though.

From the ground, S tried to keep it all together chanting along with my canter "outside, outside, outside LEG!"  I think I might need to record that, loop it, and listen to it on repeat during my rides, my commute, and maybe in my sleep....

(I forgot to snap a pic of P2 in her pretty new purple browband, but I love it! and I think she does too...)
We can be so much more uphill than this.. and we will be!

1 comment:

  1. No picture of the browband? *pouts*

    Keep up the great work! I think since you're "first" show together is out of the way that this next one is going to be much better. :D


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