Sunday, November 29, 2015

Riding the human human blender: Grids

Friday was my last lesson of the season with my trainer D since the migration to Aiken for the local eventers has started. It was a challenging one, but really appropriate one to leave us with since the lesson left many things to be desired but also many things to appreciate.

See you next season! Hopefully 2016 will be just as
awesome for growth, but maybe a little less painful...
Our lesson was all about grids. Grids are so wonderful for so many reasons from educating the horse, to fixing rider form, to confidence issues...but it also happens to feel like a human blender. So I am really happy Emma made it out to help video because it certainly appeared better then it felt.

We spent very little time discussing flatwork this time (Hopefully that means it was just that much better?!) but D did have us work a bit at the canter to get her more through and scolded me a bit for letting my inside rein go before she really gives. So basically the idea is correct, but I need to work on feeling it better otherwise it doesnt achieve anything.

Well duh...

So we warmed up over a part of the grid to start and Tillie did not understand bounces and that adding an extra stride means its no longer a bounce. But we finally figured it out.

Then the fun part and D goes, well ok now the whole thing...

It just was a blooper shoot from the first fence and for the first time really messing up in a D lesson, rather then getting too much in my head about it, I laughed it off.

Thank god Tillie kept her head up and acted as an air bag...

Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

I was prepared the next time through though and, while it wasnt perfect, we completed the entire grid without wobbling, teetering or having airbags deploy.

So we came through again to try to smooth things out:

You can tell by now Tillie is starting to understand the exercise and starts to carry herself through more without needing me to push for forward. While I can sit here and rip my own equitation to shreds, I will not and just console myself with it will get better the more I do these grids.

So D then put the oxer  up and widened it finally adding a pole diagonally across which to me seemed to read more like a table or xc fence. I have seen him use this before at home jump schooling, so was neat to see it put to use here.

Then we changed direction and came through the entire thing the other way towards the gate "home" so I knew she would be more willing to move forward through the exercise. Can we also just pause here to take a minute to laugh at that statement...wanting more forward from my horse, who normally, is tearing the reins from my hands because she doesnt want to slow down. 

Anyway, here is the first attempt the new direction:

At one point we really missed the distance coming in and it involved some hairy wasnt caught on video sadly, but Emma commented on how I let the reins slip out, sat taller and let Tillie ride out the exercise to figure it out. Basically I rode less and did everything D is begging me to do every other time haha. Hey at least its in there!

So we came through at the trot one more time where she caught one fence pretty hard with her hind legs...but at this point she was pretty sweaty with how abnormally hot it was so didnt fault her too hard there...and because her trot right before this time through looked fancy as all get out.

To be sure she really understood, D had us try it at the canter so here is the first attempt where we had a nice forward canter but because D had me "let go" of my reins earlier, I could feel myself tense and you can see Tillie went through this much quicker then some of the other attempts:

So of course we had to do it again with the same energy just a bit more relaxed which has to be one of my more favorite "win" moments captured from this lesson. 

At this point you can see Tillie getting a bit flatter over the fences as she was getting pretty tired...she wasnt blowing or anything, but as I mentioned earlier, it was really warm out so she was hot and sweaty. She hasnt had any issues sweating with her winter coat until this lesson so I havent clipped her, but will watch that with the next few days and see if it continues when the weather gets cold in the next few days. 

But in true D fashion, it isnt over until you do it right both ways or off both canter leads so he had us go through one more time off the right lead canter. I was really trying hard to nail it the first time through for Tillie's sake, and I am so glad we did!

So all in all it was a positive learning experience...some interesting moments and some pretty glaring form issues on my part, BUT I had a controlled horse that didnt lose it even though she started off a bit heavy on me. In the past when she gets like that we would have lessons where I would want to cry every time D would want to send us back through lol. 

So big hugs to Tillie :) And she got started on her ulcer treatment today so should hopefully get her bit less grumpy about tacking up. 


  1. that lesson was awesome - it was really cool watching Tillie go from 'omg so many poles!!' to 'wheeeee this is really fun!' it was a perfect exercise for her too, bc she started to really take you down the line, but the bounces kept her balanced and appropriately backed off from racing.

    also - i knew that oxer got WIDE by the end - but didn't realize just how wide until i was in the arena yesterday. that thing was like three and a half feet wide - maybe more! crazy... and now we can mope around all winter waiting for dan to come back north... boo.

    1. I am so glad you made it! and I thought about trying to get a pic of it yesterday because in the moment I was thinking so hard about everything else, I didnt even realize how wide it was!

    2. I am so glad you made it! and I thought about trying to get a pic of it yesterday because in the moment I was thinking so hard about everything else, I didnt even realize how wide it was!

  2. You gotta love when a horse saves your ass, haha. Glad you managed to stay on!