Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Trying new things and feeling like a goober

Despite the poor weather forecast, the rain subsided to allow for a cloudy, yet warm evening. I chose to put off some freelance work a bit longer and go put in a ride I have been putting off...trying the double reins on the pelham. 

The pelham has been a bit we have been using over fences as of late in P lessons on Saturdays...it really has helped to get that rebalancing half halt even with the bit converters. P has recommended playing with the double reins to really get the full action of the bit so we can try it XC weather permitting once I feel ready. 

Note Tillie's excitement.

Now, fellow blooger and barn mate Emma, has been an awesome cheerleader and reassuring it would not be as bad as I was making it out to be. So I planned a night I knew she would be there for moral support. 

I do not have flat curb reins yet in order to make sure this bit really is going to stick around...so I used some old dressage reins which are in desperate need of a cleaning and very stiff. The snaffle reins I stuck with what I was familiar with - my thinline reins. 

Warming up a bit...pretty sure I am laughing at myself at this point.

We head down to the ring and Emma did a brief overview of different ways to hold the reins and gave some pointers...thank goodness because I got on, looked down and thought: "Oh my god, that is a lot of leather"

Trying to figure out the feel between the snaffle and curb was a bit odd, let alone trying to shorten one or the other independently. I guess that will come with time, practice and technique. Other then that, it wasnt all that strange to have both sets once we started walking around. 

I think she looks quite grown up and like a real dressage horse!
Tillie instantly felt really supple and easy to maneuver...Not sure if it was the bit or not, though I am hoping I wasn't using the curb rein action yet. So we moved up into trot and she again was super responsive despite the flurry of activity around us (There was a lesson and a few lease riders in the ring). Clearly, Tillie is more agreeable in the warmer weather. 

I played a little at this point shortening and lengthening the reins trying not to catch her too much with the curb. Once I felt it was as good as it was going to get for the evening there, I warmed up into canter. Her canter depart has felt a bit sticky as of late...I partially think its my cue timing issue and her missing my cue. I also feel like her canter isnt strong at all (or I am finally realizing/able to feel it) and she really isnt sitting. She gets by on being naturally balanced to a degree, but its definitely something I need to work on in coming rides. 

Hey there uphill trot...where have you been all year!?
Besides that, her canter felt really easy to navigate and keep inside bend unlike usual. So yay for a win there! I tried really hard in canter and trot to have soft elbows to open and close...but rewatching some of these videos I realize it still isnt enough.

Despite that, she seemed pretty darn consistent. I was having way too much fun and almost called it a day when Emma suggested trying some ground poles both at the trot and canter. By this point the double reins werent too noticeable, but I did frequently try to check where the tension was and be sure it was off the snaffle so I only had tension on the curb IF needed. It came in handy with the poles...

The trot I fully expected her to build which is a tendency of hers through poles...often times leaving in canter. Not sure if she knew I had the pelham on or if I was accidentally using the curb but as you can see in the video below, she held it together and looked like she knew what was up. 

So to make things interesting we tried in canter. She got a bit forward the first attempt on each lead and the first try on left lead she did a flying over the last pole to land on the incorrect, right lead...I figure that was a weight placement issue on my end because the next time through she handled it beautifully. 

At this point I was having so much fun I sort of just threw in a mixed bag of sitting trot/changing rein then posting trot across the diagonal to see how well she would handle "building" but coming back. At one point in the video you can see how smart she is and catches on, tries to go ahead a build across the diagonal without me asking to which I quickly shut down and asked for a smaller trot instead.

Love how canter poles create the front end lift for me!

What was so wonderful about this ride was Tillie had so much try and willingness it was almost freaky. Any small amount of resistance I got was simply a lack of understanding, strength or just unsure. With some insistence on my part, she quickly would go OK fine. 

Left bend still REALLY gives me a hard time to get her straight, without twisting her poll, just bending the neck or her losing the right side. I do believe it stems from my crookedness because as soon as i concentrate on evening my seat bones and watch my twisting it seems to remedy itself. 

YAWN! Worked sooooo hard.
It is uncharacteristically warm - which I am NOT complaining about, but it did mean having a super sweaty Tillie by the end of our ride...so I got to blow dry her for the first time using our electrogroom! Tillie has been vacuumed with it before, so was a bit shocked at first at the different sensation and was a perfect lady standing for it...just was very expressive in her faces to tell us how she felt. She was so extremely cuddly too it was hard to resist. 

So cuddly after the ride with Auntie Meri (Miseventer) 

So there is my recap on my night of a few firsts....here is some footage of our ride towards the end:


  1. Double reins are interesting. I still feel incompetent with them...

    1. Ugh I really felt like I was accidentally using the second set when I shouldnt have been, but Tillie was pretty consistent so she didnt seem to mind

  2. even just the next time you ride in them will feel infinitely easier - it might surprise you how quickly you adapt to them. (also hilarious in the video how i'm too busy gushing over bali and G to do anything else lol)

    1. Thanks for the support and showing me the ways! Bahaha well Bali is your pet project so its understandable ;) Id be the same way if someone were on Tillie.