Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Clinic Report: Friday

Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to sleep in!  How odd.  I don't know how long its been since I had a whole morning and (almost) nothing to do.  However, following my usual trend of bad luck (see my list of disasters from Murdoch Mysteries) I woke up feeling sick.  At first, my sleep addled brain just plugged it down to nerves.  I thought thatwas odd, as I hadn't really been nervous.  Plus, I'd never felt that ill from nerves before.  After actually being physically sick, I realized that this must be something more than just nerves.  So the quest became finding something that would settle my stomch, and not put me to sleep.  With that settled, I made myself some breakfast (with my appetite magically restored, and my "nerves" miraculously disappeared) and sat down to waste away the next two hours.  Oh the joys of the internet!
I arrived at the barn at around noon, an hour after the clinic was supposed to start.  Belinda had been detained with an emergency phone call for a 1/2 hour, so we were actually running a 1/2 hour behind schedule. I ended up getting to watch a little bit of everyone's ride, which was an unexpected treat.

The highlight of the day would probably be watching my coach and Belinda work on Bronx's piaffe.  They did some in hand work, and Bronx decided he didn't really feel like it, so we watched 20 minutes of bucking, kicking, rearing, etc.  (My coach did a fabulous job of sticking on... a few of them were really impressive!) Belinda's later explanation of why they continued to push him even when he was acting out like that was that if you quit, you're showing him that acting like that gets him out of it.  They pushed him, and he pushed back with a vengeance, but since they'd pushed, they had to keep on pushing until he gave.  IT was entertaining, to say the least!
My actual ride went really well.  At first, I was a little worried.  Cadence and I combined the least experienced horse and the least experienced rider with a background in not dressage, but eventing.  To compound my trepidations... actually, I don't think that's a particularly good way of putting it.  This didn't scare me, so much as entertain me.  Either way, I digress.  When Cadence and I began our warm up, she was a little narky, and not too keen to bend.  She did a lovely trot stretch though.
While we warmed up, my coach gave Belinda our history.  Green horse, green rider, working on straightness and balance in the canter and canter in transitions.  Essentially, she just warned Belinda about what was to come.
When we'd finished our warm up, Belinda asked to see us just go w/t/c.  When we were finished, she looked straight at my coach and said "You lied!  I was expecting way worse!"  I guess Cadence's recent improvements have surprised my coach as well :)  So we went on to work on the following:
1) Making sure Cadence doesn't grab.
       When I want to slow, and Cadence doesn't, she likes to grab and lay on you.  She's gotten better, but it sure as heck isn't gone.
2) Getting IMMEDIATE responses
       No step of walk before moving into her trot.  It goes walk, aid, trot.  Same going from trot to canter
3) Collecting the walk and trot
4) Acheiving those same responses without stepping into the transition from a collected walk and collected trot
5) Trot Extensions
       We did this one after the canter... so I can't say as it was 100% successful.  Belinda wanted full on toe-flicking extensions, not the slightly longer lengthens that we're currently happy with.
       Walk, trot, walk, trot, halt, trot, canter, trot, canter, trot, canter.  Cadence was like 'MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND HUMAN!'  It was funny.

Some pics taken from rather an odd angle... and she looks demonic thanks to horsey version of red eye :)

The first lesson was very successful. Belinda is an absolutely wonderful person to ride with.  When riding with her, you don't feel like you're riding with someone who has ridden at the Olympics, someone who just came back from Aachen, or someone who was on the phone that morning sorting out issues with the Canadian team's chef d'equipe.  It felt like I was riding with a friend of my coach's.  Both 'personalities' are true, but you only ever see one... until something like the Olympics are mentioned in passing ;) Then you remember who you're talking to.
The only thing that surprised me was that the mare barely broke a sweat.  Oh Mare, where oh where does that fitness come form?  Her only sweaty place was under the saddle pad :(  Everyone else came back drenched :P
Spoiler alert: She won't get off so easy tomorrow


  1. Good report, I like the observations re: teaching horse piaffe. I think this (not piaffe, but when to work through resistance) is the hardest part to learn and where having help of those who have been there is so critical! We doubt ourselves if we work alone all the time.

  2. It's wonderful to have someone who can not just support you, but correct you when you've gone wrong... a wealth of knowledge and experience is always handy.