Thursday, April 14, 2016

Embracing the Challenge

After the Dom Schramm clinic two weekends ago, I was quite excited with how  well Tillie developed over the two days we participated. There were many light bulb moments and it certainly helped that Dom expressed how cool he thought Tillie was.

It got me thinking about trying him out for lessons outside of a clinic with him being a reasonable distance to us. Turns out he is close enough that he is willing to come to us!

Waiting for Dom!

So that he did yesterday and I found myself a little nervous. I haven't taken a lesson at home in a while, and in the past those home lessons were usually not so great. Not sure what it is about home... whether its because Tillie can see her friends, the footing or whatever, she just doesnt give me the same ride as off the farm. Almost like she thinks she knows better at home where as off farm, she relies on me a bit more. She gets a bit, what I call, squirley and sucks back then leans, goes too slow then jigs...just in general is just not as soft and willing. She anticipates and I can really only choose certain battles...

Dom was super pleasant and began setting up some jumps clearly knowing what he wanted to do. Something about his complete knowing and having a plan soothed my anxiety a bit. Warming Tillie up, she instantly felt softer both ways than in my dressage lesson the day before. We told Dom our plans for competing this Sunday and he asked if Tillie and I were doing the training division!? EEKS!!! lol I laughed and said no that we are starting out BN but training definitely a goal Id like to get to with her one day. He finished setting up and sent us out to warm up again.

Tillie figuring out where her legs go and sitting down to jump!

When we were trotting around warming up, he said right away to develop a nice energy level in the trot...for jump warm up you do want softness, but it isn't the same as a dressage warm up. Right away he picked up on my left hand dropping down issue and another light bulb moment...rather than tell me to lift that hand he said "your left leg just isn't doing much is it? So your left hand is trying to compensate." Don't know why that never occured to me but he laughed and after a few laps of actually using my darn left leg he said it was remarkably better.

Our canter transitions still arent 100% there, but they were better and less all over the place until Dom asked us to do one on cue. (of course right). At this point is when she started getting a bit lit up but Dom was understanding and really didnt force the issue, just said no worries take a walk and lets use the warm up exercise to develop the ride we want.

He said to let the warm up exercise help develop the canter and jump we wanted so we didnt spend too much time for warm up.

Warm up:

The first exercise was set as three small one stride jumps on a curve. The idea is to test the horse's balance and if they are their jump should show improvement over each jump so the final jump should build to a nice round  jump. It also is meant to test and develop your eye on distances since the approach should be a bit deeper take off from a smaller canter.

Easier said than done!

The first two attempts we got a bit long coming in so Tillie jumped flat. But once we found the sweet spot she did a nice job through and Dom just sent us through a few more times to confirm it. We changed leads and came in from the right and had a bit of a struggle bus moment again where Tillie drifted left a bit. Dom just reassured us, sent us through again but had us open the inside rein earlier on the approach which helped.

Serpentine Exercise

Next Dom had two verticals set up roughly 40 - 44ft apart...this is what he said he guestimated it at. With a 20 meter circle being 66 ft that it was set to ride on a 20-25 meter circle. He said that measuring it always helps, BUT you want to look at it and see if you can ride it in 4 strides in the arc primarily and then adding 5 and 6 strides would come as long as you could ride the 4.

He had me go first...yay us! He had us set out to try it thinking of changing our leads and get it in 6 strides first. We struggled at first getting the right striding and the left to right lead...but as we kept doing it we started hitting a decent rhythm. He told us not to slice the approach too terribly much and to use the curve for the right stride not the angle of the fence. That proved to be a bit challenging...

Then we tried it in 5 strides then 4. While we started getting some nicer even strides the precision of getting the number of strides we wanted wasnt always there. It definitely is my piloting error and in the nicest most encouraging way possible, Dom said I just need to be better at this and the better I get Tillie gets better. It is evident throughout the exercise that when I ride it right so does she. It also became evident that riding her on the more forward stride, there was more adjust-ability there...GO FIGURE!

What was really challenging but cool about this exercise :

  1. is it helped develop our eye for the distance through the turn much farther out (rather than trying to adjust the last 2-3 strides before) and get the canter for the correct ride in the turn. 
    • This will help me with Tillie's rideability according to Dom because she does get so lit up and strong that it will allow me to ride her through the turn and be softer once we lock on to a jump
  2. Adaptability to be able to know in the future which striding or path is the one to take depending on the first jump. This technique will help with stadium courses and stringing together fences. 
  3. Getting the lead mid jump and being more aware of that. 
So yea lots to think about, but it is a great exercise to show some holes that need to be ironed out. 

Putting it all together

Finally Dom put some fences up and had us ride a mini course to see if our horses learned anything and the goal being- did they (as well as us riders) develop accuracy and a nice form over a fence?

I would have loved to try the entire thing again, but Dom had us ride the oxer a few times more for me to work on the landing side keeping my hands forward to allow Tillie to finish the jump. He said she is so powerful with her hind end over them and kicks it up so high and her tendency to land strong has gotten me in the habit of sitting up quickly...which he said is the right thing to do, but do that while keeping my hands forward enough for her to stretch.

Again - duh! P has been trying to convey this very message to me for months now...more release more release and just a simple rephrasing was like Oh...well....Yea! 


I LOVED the lesson...while it didnt FEEL awesome, it was definitely a lesson with exercises meant to challenge and open up holes to fill. Dom still said how cool Tillie is and offered to keep coming down despite not having a full group that he would be happy to help us through the season. He also invited me and Brita (my lesson partner) up to XC school at Boyd's place anytime and to text him to set it up... UMMM YEA!!!!

He was reasonably priced and actually pretty I am definitely thinking to keep trying this!

Here is the compilation of the lesson...sorry for the odd clips, next time Ill tell the kiddies to just keep filming since I like hearing his feedback and commentary too.


  1. Holy s***!!! I'm so jealous that is amazing!!!

    1. Lol does this help me convince you slightly more to move here?!

    2. It is appealing. But I need a job. Find me that then we will talk :P

  2. Awesome recap, there are lots of tips in there I'm going to steal! Im so envious of the coaching and amenities you have there :)

    1. Totally should do some of these!!! and if you are close, come by anytime!! lol we are very fortunate :)

  3. Very jealous of your exposure to all these great trainers! What a great lesson :)

    1. It is pretty great...we need all the help we can get!

  4. So glad you had a wonderful "at home" lesson :)

  5. So fun!! Brita said she had a blast too!!! So bummed I missed it lol