Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bad habits

I've been training on my own for a year and a half now. It's the first time I've gone so long without lessons, and with a young horse, no less. Every so often I think about participating in a clinic, but then I think, I'll wait until the canter departs are better. Then, I'll wait until the trot lengthening is better. Then, I'll wait until counter canter is in. Then, I'll wait until the changes are in. And then I realize I'm steadily accomplishing these things on my own (well, except for the changes, but they're coming!)

Part of my reluctance to take lessons is financial, but a bigger part is simply that, after fourteen years of training, I was curious to see if I could bring along a young horse on my own. I lucked out with Willow, who is by and large an agreeable girl, and so far I feel like things are going well.

While I was in Texas, I took two short lessons on Sterling with Wolfgang. He pointed out two bad habits I've developed: giving in the canter depart, and letting my left hand cross slightly over the wither when circling to the right. I've ridden Willow twice since getting back, and I really concentrated on fixing these two habits. The canter departs immediately became crisp and uphill, and small circles to the right got much easier. Just goes to show that I can definitely use eyes on the ground every so often!

Wolfgang also watched a video of me on Willow and said, as I knew he would, "It's time to bring her up in front!" So that's the other thing I'm focusing on. Willow's wondering what's going on, but overall she's not protesting too much. She's a little tight in the new frame, but she's always tense about changes. If she's still tight after two weeks I'll re-evaluate, but for now I'm going to stick with the higher frame and work on building the muscles at the base of the neck. The canter feels just super -- collected and adjustable. Ten meter circles, here we come.

Wolfgang and Suzanne gave me a gift: a lovely whip for work in hand. How many of you think TSA will let you bring a four-and-a-half-foot whip through airport security? (Luckily, I expected it might be a problem, so Ted came into the airport with me and took the whip back out with him, to be shipped to me at a later time.)


Oregon Equestrian said...

I owned my first Arabian for many years before I could afford to begin lessons. She was two when I got her and thank goodness she had a forgiving nature. We eventually trained and competed in low key open hunter schooling shows.

It's been three years since I've taken lessons on my current Arabian. My favorite trainer had to sell her boarding facility and return to the "real world" for financial reasons. My own financial situation doesn't allow for a monthly lesson let alone a clinic.

So I can appreciate the frustrations of working on your own. Interestingly enough, today I stumbled across some notes I took during a clinic I took four years ago. Good reminders to consider the next time I'm in the saddle.

Good luck!

dressagemom said...

After my Boot Camp experience I have to say that I'm all for taking at least an occasional lesson. I developed so many bad habits! Even if you get one lesson every few months it sounds like you'd be able to identify issues or at least things to work on for the near future.

Sounds like you're coming right along with your horse though. That's really exciting to see improvement! When's your next show?

halfpassgirl said...

I probably won't show until next year, mostly for financial reasons. I guess THEN we'll find out if things are really going as well as I think!

Kitty Bo said...

I just read about your visit to Tx. You were very close to me, about 1.5 hours away. I see everything is Texas tan in your pictures, but some areas of Tx did get rain last week. I think it may be green by Blanco now. I live NW of Blanco & San Antonio. However, we are now headed back to triple digit temps.