Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sitting trot = human blender

Lately our state has decided it wants to be Alaska because Saturday and Sunday (Valentine's Day) the temperatures dropped to below 20...Sunday, my truck said it was 12 degrees as I loaded up to go for a dressage lesson. Because what else can you do when all your lesson cancelled / the show is cancelled and cant ride on the rock hard footing?

I was also really excited to haul with my new truck for the first time.

Oh so excited!
Backing up to hitch up was easy peasy with the back up camera and now I am officially spoiled (I am sorry...I dont mean to brag!!! I have been driving beater cars my whole adult life - this is my first all out new with all the gadgets!!!)

I was really bummed the dressage show got cancelled...but decided to sneak in one with C to feel a littler better...

I chose to get there early again to give us some time to walk around to warm up since it worked so well the day before. Tillie was a bit more up here...the indoor is MUCH larger and the light was so strong coming in the windows from the snow reflecting it would blind Tillie and then cause her to be a bit jumpy. She finally figured out how to close her eyes going through those patches and settled in ok.

She kept being really rude about any contact with the bit and would root or dive her head down...even in really small short bursts. I worked on addressing that so by the time C said she was ready it wasnt as much of an issue.

Here is our warm up trot:

She started off really stuck and pulled a few whip nae naes when I started asking for bend with some leg. C had us do things realllllly gradually and try to get her warmed up with both inside bending and counter bending before asking for more trot...rather let her offer the bigger trot when she felt warm enough. 

She lost a left hind shoe at the end of the week so I was a bit worried if she was being inconsistent from being sore on that....

Here is our warm up trot tracking left:

She still felt way too light and not confirmed in the contact so C had me start having more of an outside rein conversation and think almost mini leg yield into it so we would spiral out gradually to a large circle, then smaller into a smaller circle and back out.

Then C wanted to use some changing rein exercises to help soften her more and partially through this is when I had a nicer contact and could start manipulating how high or low I wanted her rather then her dictating that herself:

Youll notice pretty early in this video, C instructs me to gently add leg as I set to push her away and encourage lifting her back. Keyword being gently to which Tillie thought my gentle was not gentle enough.

After a few turns, we started having more conversation about softening. 

See we can soften despite the cold

We did some leg yielding each way and leg yielding from right to left was really nice and easy. Seeing it in the mirror was really cool and exciting. The left to right she was having a harder time staying straight, but C had us take a walk break and promised we'd get back to it later in the lesson...she had other plans for us - AKA sitting trot AKA the human blender.

A still of stilling trot...not as bad as it felt
 First sitting it was just all over the place. I really did feel like I was in a blender and might bounce right out of the tack. The key is to still have a good working trot from Tillie, but sit it without asking for her to slow down too much. Her trot got really elastic here and watching this footage makes me really excited.

So C wanted me to ask for canter from the sitting trot...and my muscle memory was really making it hard for me. You can hear her scold me a few times because when I started thinking about other things I accidentally post...hehe "weenie" moves she said.

I cherish these photos of my smiling while riding...this used to be so rare, and now I have found the happy place again!

Unfortunately my phone died before we really got to improving :( but it was really cool how sitting the trot and canter sort of help one another improve. This first right lead canter was the first canter of the lesson and it already felt way more solid and balanced then usual with using sitting trot. 

After this round, we changed direction and I was able to start relaxing a bit more. C noted my sitting trot was MUCH better this direction and I wasnt gripping as much...my knees were open and leg was much longer. Left lead canter was just as nice which was a huge shock considering how unbalanced and weak it has been. 

So we walked after this a bit to mostly let me catch my breath and stretch out my hip flexors which were on fire. Who knew sitting trot was soooo much work?! 

Miss fancy pants

When we picked up sitting trot again, I immediately felt better about it was was able to rock back and engage my core without tensing my upper body or gripping as much with my legs. It took a reminder to breath here and there, but it felt better even with Tillie working in the forward trot she needed to be in. 

From here we did more leg yielding this time coming down the center line, leg yielding staying straighter and asking for canter through the turn. It produced a really nice canter! Tillie did this very well leg yielding right to left into right lead canter. 

We had to practice a few more leg yields left to right, but sitting trot allowed my to close my thigh more to keep her straighter. I notice I tend to tighten my left side this way which is part of the issue in her over bending and leading with the shoulder...I simply am not riding the right side enough and letting go enough with the left side. 

All in all Tillie tried really hard and C was impressed with her work ethic and by the fact she stayed as calm as she did despite the cold and a loose horse. 

The remote start for the truck was really nice to have warm and ready by the time we were done...and I topped off the Valentine's day with lunch with the barn girls and then dinner with the hubby. 

Valentine's day dinner.

Hope you guys had a great Valentines Day!!!


  1. That dinner looks delicious! You guys are making so much progress. It is awesome!

  2. ha the 'human blender' is the perfect metaphor!! glad Tillie was such a solid citizen and so eager to get to work. can't wait for the weather to improve so we can ride at home again!