Monday, June 27, 2016

Changing the game on a mare = acting like a monkey

After this weekend's outing, I decided I had to try to squeeze in another Dom lesson before the weekend...with the way this week was panning out, our normal lesson later in the week wasnt going to work. We managed to get in a time today as long as we hauled up there.

Initially, we were going to go XC at Windurra USA again, but the weather had other ideas so we re-routed and rode, for the first time, at Dom's indoor.

I went in explaining to Dom I really wanted more security over those bigger fences when Tillie is jumping large. While this weekend's training out was a good one, I dont want to be in a position where I feel like I need to focus on recovering from getting jumped out the tack, PLUS handling a combo, PLUS terrain out XC.

Mare glare for days
Dom was really understanding and said it isnt surprising with how powerful he's seen her jump. He agreed some of it was most likely do to my ingrained habit of sitting up too fast and jumping the back side of fences like I am jumping a down bank.

So the goal was simple...keep the exercise simple and focus on staying out of the tack. Basically an entire lesson staying in 2-point. I must admit, I was thinking I would get winded or tired really quickly. I am proud to say, I didnt at all but do need to work on the jumping portion more ( I still am having the tendency to lock my knees and ankles on landing).

Dom pretty quickly into warming up suggested I try his saddle - a monoflap Stubben S Zaria Optimum.

Hello goregous 
I was a bit skeptical at first but agreeable (not that Dom would EVER know I was skeptical...unless he reads this blog that is). I tend to feel really insecure in other saddles. Its just more or less that feeling of not knowing it or being comfortable so was pretty certain we would have to switch back. Much to my surprise, my leg instantly felt stabilized. I could feel my body adjusting at first, testing the thigh and calf blocks before settling in right where it needed. It was odd at first not feeling the bulk of the girth and oddly disconcerting, yet really nicely balanced all at the same time.

Dom had me feel it out and set the tone with cantering around in it and then in two point to really establish my weight down in my leg:

Once satisfied with that we moved onto warming up with cavelletti...which I am noticing Dom loves to use alot at first and a training technique I need to incorporate more even if I dislike them (which btw is something i realized today probably because they are freakin hard!)

Here is us warming up over them in a serpentine trying to get our leads...please excuse Tillie's sass at me for making her turn a bit harder (a bit of a theme of todays lesson):

You can hear Dom helping to coach me to stay up out of the saddle without using my hands or sitting too soon...easier said then done! Not on film was a much longer discussion about it with him empathizing as to why I do it, her sass and her past habit if landing downhill and in a heap, but despite her sass, in his opinion he really isnt landing like that anymore so I need to be better about letting her land on her own and figure it out. 

Can you say micro manage too much on my part?!

At least the above video we get our leads consistently and manage to complete the exercise fairly well until the very last gappy one...but hey Ill take it! I realized i dont like these so much because Tillie really badly wants to get flat and throw herself at them, just like the last jump in this video above...I realize by doing more of these, that elusive perfect half halt will come more nicely.

Then Dom added the jumps to the mix with the same concept, just stay out of the tack. Tillie was all fine and dandy, but make sure you wait alllll the way to the end. Sure enough its right after Dom convinces me to be nice and be softer to let her land and figure things out...she pulls her old sass I havent seen in a really long time:

It doesnt freak me out nearly as much as it used to, even if it looks like I get unseated, it doesnt feel that way anymore. In all honesty, she was just really excited and feeling good it felt like.

Dom agreed, if you listen he calls her a monkey! LOL. After filming he said it was a much nicer jump on my part but it was a bit of a longer distance then he wanted hence the excitement and at home we want to get a bit closer while in competition that is acceptable for sure.

So here we get a bit better. But I still am being really hard on myself and see I just dont keep my darn butt up in the air. My lower leg is solid, it isnt sliding, but I still really want to snap back with my upper body and sit my butt in the saddle. At least we start to find a rhythm, but Tillie was a lot sassier today about the change of her massage on Sunday I think has her feeling realllllly nicely.

Below, she finally fell into a rhythm over the line but the Oxer we just didnt see the right distance so we started to drift and got a pretty long spot which resulted in pulling a rail and Tillie really getting mad about it:

Unfortunately my videographers had a bit of an issue, so werent able to capture our last but really awesome jump over it...go figure! But they did manage to get the line in one more time, which rode more forward and in a clean 5 rather than a short, added 6:

All in all, it was a tough lesson...and one I am determined to keep working on at home. I am being really tough on myself, but know I have a ton of work to do. I can see my tension in my lower leg on landing and incredibly frustrated with just keeping my silly butt out of the saddle!!! I know it takes time to change an old habit, I just dont like being the student that requires repeating the same thing more than once is all. 

I am glad to know though Tillie isnt hurting after the step up! I am set on doing more conditioning though, but please to know she isnt unhappy or backing off her job. I am starting to consider taking more lessons on other horses so I can keep practicing without over working her. 


  1. Tillie and her sass makes me laugh. Gotta love a sassy horse

    1. Shes something isnt she?! Feeling alll the feelings!

  2. Tillie really looks like she's figuring out her job great! She's balanced in her counter canter, too. Love it!

    Looks to me like your knee/thigh is tense, blocking your weight from sinking into your heel. That might be while you're having an issue with standing up and falling back in the saddle too early. It's hard to keep your hip angle relaxed enough to follow the movement when your leg stability is gone. I have the same issue when it comes to sitting difficult movements on Pig, though obviously the mechanics of the seat position are different.

    1. Thanks Austen! Her canter is definitely getting there finally...but yes I agree about my leg. I am a knee/thigh gripper so new homework is to work on taking my knee off the saddle (I do it terribly in canter too). I may have to think of some clever way to remind me...I agree too that sitting biomechanics vary from jumping, but it totally stems into my jump form too. So it looks like more dressage homework for us :) Thanks for the input! Will gladly take your reminding me to break this nasty habit.

  3. Sounds like a pretty cool lesson. I like that saddle too. I'd like to get a mono flap for myself.

  4. What a fun lesson! Tillie's sass is back with a vengeance, she's so silly! I love Dom's indoor, there's really none like that in this area!