Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fitness Overhaul

After our somewhat intense ride on Friday I went out the next day to just visit with Sofie, groom her and wash her tail. Then she grazed on the lawn while I finger-combed and fluffed her tail, which looks much better now. I felt like we just needed to chill for a day, and I think we succeeded in doing that.

I rode again on Monday, and there was no threatening weather happening, so we went right to the trail. We explored a new pasture-in-development, getting in a workout in sand. When we cut back across the pasture I had her trot, and THAT was fun...she bounced through the sand almost like she does when we ride in the snow. Wheeeee! After we finally got out of the field (after traversing the entire thing, because I mistakenly thought there was NOT a fence all the way around it!) we went back around the OUTSIDE of the fence and headed to a trail I'd seen the other day that looked inviting. It turned out to be a very good conditioning workout, relatively challenging and hilly, but not horribly so. The downhill got a little steep, especially when she started picking up speed, and then I saw wet leaves underfoot, but she handled it just fine and didn't slip. Then we were well into the woods, where we meandered for a while before finding the entry trail again and going back up the hill. It was a good workout for her - she was puffing as we headed back up. Then we headed back to the barn, as I wanted to do some arena work and surreptitiously watch the lesson-in-progress. We'd already gotten in a nice ride, and I incorporated more trotting into the trail ride, all in the hopes of building fitness.

Back in the indoor, I remounted and started our slightly-dressage-resembling work. There were two lessons going on, so it was nice to see other people riding. Sofie's new friend, a cute little QH mare, was in there too. We worked on not flying around being inverted, and also on not diving off the wall on this one side. And it went very well! She got a little tense at certain moments and inverted at times, but she listened fairly quickly and brought her head down, and she was in a nice, relaxed "frame" the majority of the time. We didn't stay on a circle either, we went along the rail a lot of the time, and she did much better at staying round on straight lines. She was pretty nice and forward, too, and seemed to understand what I wanted a lot better. She seemed to trust my hands, too, so clearly I didn't set her back too far by being a bit heavy-handed the other day. Her walk work was really nice, she was really reaching and maintaining the contact on her own. She looks so pretty when she has a long neck. :) I also did a little work on asking for more energy at the walk, and I actually succeeded a couple times. When I tapped her, she walked more forward and didn't just break into the trot. I think we'll try to work some more on that. She always has a nice swingy walk through her back, but she doesn't necessarily overtrack or anything like that. Not sure how much of an overtrack she's even capable of, but a bit more energy couldn't hurt.

We did have issues with diving off the wall, especially to the right. I think it's a bit of a strength/compensation issue. So I had to experiment a bit with that. I have to try not to hold her up (and I don't even want to 'cause it makes me tired). She gets so heavy on the left rein, which is an issue we need to work on. When it gets really bad I usually try to either lighten her by counterflexing, or else just throw that rein away for a second. I'm trying to teach her to stay on the rail by letting her fall off and then correcting her, rather than trying to hold her all the time. Tapping her on the shoulder seems to help, although it does make the relaxation go away. But, we can't work on everything all at once. And diving off the wall is not cool. I'm sure she'll learn not to do that eventually, especially as she gets stronger. Straightness is an issue for us as well. Sometimes we are so wobbly, it either makes me laugh or just pisses me off. I think the issue is that turning is just so easy for her, she always wants to be turning. And some of it is anticipation. It's just another long-term project.

BUT I was really happy with how the ride went. We definitely made progress, and much of the time we looked pretty respectable. I enjoyed myself, and she worked really well for me. She had a very good attitude and seemed to be trying to get it right. At this point, my focus is on fitness and balance. I'm going back to my old belief that you can't improve the canter by cantering badly. Trot work is the best thing for the canter. There is nothing really wrong with our canter, it's just a fitness issue at this point, and maybe a mental issue as well. She's at a new place, dealing with new footing, and she's not quite comfortable cantering at this point. And I know she needs to be stronger. So we're going to go on longer rides, and do more trot work, and then I'm sure we'll be able to canter with no problem.

Also, due to an expensive clinic I was going to partake in being cancelled, I can now take a lesson or two with Jesse! Another reason to get us in shape!!

No comments:

Post a Comment