Saturday, July 23, 2016

The observer's paradox; or, another pony video

I call this the observer's paradox (Schrodinger's Cat: because I changed the outcome of my ride by measuring it. Were I not videotaping my ride, it probably would have gone differently. Sigh. Such is the paradox of videoing. Yesterday I had a great ride, probably one of the best ever on the pony. So I thought today I would video it. And of course knowing that I was being observed (by myself) changed the way I rode. I was less focused, had less of a plan, and felt I was less effective than yesterday. Oh well, when I went back to watch the video it wasn't as bad as it felt.

As I'm sure I've said before on here (or maybe it was on Mac's blog), I've been having trouble with my hips. After trial and error and experimenting, it has come down to me being able to ride in two saddles (shouldn't that be enough?): my jumping saddle and my dressage saddle. Having ridden the pony heretofore in my jumping saddle (with the exception of the couple of times I rode her in my western saddle that is now for sale), I thought I would graduate her to my dressage saddle. I say graduate because my position in the dressage saddle is different than in the jumping saddle. In the jumping saddle, I was all about teaching her to go forward and being light in my seat (not that I ever want to be heavy in my seat per se, but it is easier to get up off her back in a jumping saddle). She learns so quickly and has come so far (to me, anyway, for being the first horse I started under saddle) that I think she can handle more in terms of asking for a bit of contact and sitting now and again for a few steps, and a dressage saddle makes that more comfortable.

Here's a short video showing how good Pony is for mounting. I haven't worn breeches and boots in a while and these breeches are pull-ons so needed some adjusting after I got my butt in the saddle!

Yesterday I set up "the wheel of death" in the indoor arena - basically, four cavaletti set on a 20-meter circle equidistant from the center point. At the two ends of the arena (the longer side) there was room between the cavaletti and the gates so I could go around the two on that end, or I could walk on the circle over all four.

In my lessons with Charley I've been working on maintaining a circle with my legs and using my reins to remind Pony to stay on the circle. Ideally I'd be able to go a whole circle without using my reins, but for now she needs reminders. The cavaletti are to help me mentally pick a spot where I want to ride to, and it is a good exercise for her in keeping a pace and staying on a line and picking up her feet. In the center of the arena is the dreaded tarp. This is for us to circle around (inside the cavaletti circle) and do a half-circle exercise that is supposed to get the inside hind engaged and then I release and she steps through with her front legs. This is like the Buck Brannaman half-circle/half-circle exercise, but with a prop to help.

Here's a video of us doing the half-circle exercise and walking over cavaletti and working on backing softly.

And another video of us walking over cavaletti and doing some flexions from side to side.

Another thing we've been working on in lessons is having a nice, soft trot. When I first started Pony, her trot was fast and unbalanced and so I've been working (and she has, too!) on keeping her quiet and not running her off her feet (not that that is my MO - I just want to be careful to NOT do that). Still, with Charley we've been working on soft transitions and trotting on a loose rein, trying to get her to keep the circle o her own, but using reins to set her back on course when necessary.

Here is some work trotting over cavaletti; at the end we line up at the gate and she backs up as I open it and then she walks over the cavaletti and we walk out.

And I'm very happy to report that this afternoon I am not in pain! My hips and my back are okay for the moment . . . and I even rode Mac after I rode Pony!

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