I’m such a wimp. Riding in 93 degree weather was… *garbled whining* just barely tolerable. For Radar and I both, haha.
Did some work trying to keep my left foot still. Trainer threaded the stirrup loosely through the girth straps (not actually tied - that’s v. dangerous, don’t do that) to get me to feel how hard it is to make your feet stay still. Stirrup eventually tugged loose the girth straps, but yeah - point was made. I need to sit up with my abs more and keep my feet under me, and be more conscious of where they are at all times. The feet, not the abs. I would be terribly worried if my abs…moved..around??
Got off the lunge-line again, and did the whole alternating sitting and rising trot thing. Apparently, I navigated well? There was another lesson going on at the same time, and I didn’t think too hard about it - I just moved out of the way and Radar obliged. Weird because steering usually takes, like, 90% of my thinking and really stresses me out. Maybe Radar and I are getting more in-sync. I’d like to think that, if only to keep my confidence up, ha.
Radar responded with a great canter all the times I asked. EVERY. SINGLE. ASK. Part of it was that he’s generally lighter and more willing when not asked to go in 15 meter circles all the time. But yeah, I don’t have to think too hard to ask anymore. I LOVE muscle memory, esp. when it remembers something the right way.
To keep yourself from getting left behind in the canter, lift your chin higher, and the rest of your torso will follow. Think MURDER, and ride. ;) Thanks, Charlize Theron.
Note to self: Stop wearing your 6-yr-old breeches. They are thin and worn and the reason why the skin over your seat bones has been rubbed raw.
Also, during sitting trot, I heard my helmet creaking like crazy. Time to replace? It’s only been 6 or 7 years, though, and has never been impacted in a fall. :|
I watched Radar’s jumping lesson yesterday, and took to the chance to make some observations (always astride him and the mirrors are stuck in the corners of the arena, so I can never see how he and I are looking - which is good in some ways bc while I was dancing, I always relied too much on mirrors and not enough on my own feel):
- He’s not butt-high, but when he trots, he goes the way a drafty pony usually does - pressing down more in front - like, you can stick an imaginary cart behind him and he’d look like he was pulling it.
- Though it looks like he could get round with his headset low, it actually looks more correct when he gets his neck up. His withers raise more, and he’s not relying so much on his front end to pull him. Looks more balanced. Didn’t look like he had a hollow back (lol, you’d feel it if you were riding though).
- He looks lightest when he’s pushing with his hind end, of course. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen often unless it’s after some intense trot/canter work. He has limited reach with his hind legs, and I think this, along with being on-the-forehand, contributes to the butt-high look (it look exaggerated when he’s trotting, but it’s fine when he’s standing still).
- Canter work has him looking his best, especially after taking off on a small crossrail. He’ll actually rock back on his hind end, lightening his forehand.
Major progress today! I’m getting Radar to respond better to a lighter leg, and he’s half-halting nicely before downward transitions (if I don’t jeopardize his balance by shifting my torso, ha).
First, though, I had to fight the urge to kick. Instead, I had to start learning to use only one light aid, and if he didn’t respond, I’d put on the crop. Radar’s clever, but lazy, so this ended up taking longer than probably should have. :P After quite a few of walk-trot-walk transitions, he was moving off my leg a lot better, and there wasn’t any need to use the whip anymore.
Note to self: He likes the short, thick yellow crop. Using a dressage whip behind the leg, however, will get you bucked (hasn’t happened, but I’ve heard stories - apparently, he can give some major air time!). On the shoulder is always fine.
I got let off the line again today to do more transitions practice. Had to put a little more effort into getting him to half-halt instead of plummeting into the downward transition, but his gaits were pretty snappy! His right-lead canter was especially spot-on - as light as I’ve ever felt it. ♥
I’m glad I’m slowly getting him to respond to my leg. It’s almost been a year since I started on the lunge-line, and it’s made a huge difference in the way I’m riding now. I don’t feel the need to clamp my knees/thighs anymore and while I’m still instinctively driving, I recognize when I do it and can fix it.
Woooow, was it hot today! Not the best weather for a drafty pony, but Radar soldiered through.
I got off the lunge-line today! Just to check how I’m doing in terms of, you know, actually riding. :P
I feel a lot more confident riding Radar without getting tense and clingy. It helps that he likes going around on the rail.
A difference I noticed on-the-lungeline vs off is that I tend to let my elbows flap in the sitting trot. So I’ve got to remember to keep my elbows weighed and upper arms firm to my sides.
I got right canter outta him on the first try off the lead! I was so surprised and happy - RADAR YOU WONDERPONY.
I felt less anxious position-wise when asking Radar to keep up the tempo. A year ago, I’d be nagging him like crazy, knees tight and driving with my seat. Now, it’s just like - hey, I can actually isolate parts of body while sitting astride a moving animal!
I doubt I could have coaxed left-lead canter out of him, but right-lead was good enough for me. Dude didn’t even break his stride until the second lap! Pretty good for a cold-weather horse.
(No worries on Radar - though he was definitely huffin’ and puffin’ this lesson, he got plenty of walk breaks and a thorough cooldown!)
Radar had a lesson right before mine, so he was all warmed up and ready to go!
We worked on identifying which hind leg is moving forward at walk, then trot, and incorporated that into figuring out the perfect timing for canter aids.
Closing my eyes is the best way to shut out all that outside noise, at least for me, so I used that to isolate the feel of the correct diagonal in rising trot. The inside hind is going to step a little further under, so your inside hip is going to dip and stay for a fraction of a second longer than your outside. Once you feel that inside hip dip, rise on the next beat.
For canter from sitting trot, your inside hip is going to dip - that’s when you immediately aid. For someone like me who’s balls at timing, it’s good to aid earlier than right on the dot.
For canter from rising trot, it’s easier because the rise, sit two beats - the first beat is where you start to aid. When you rise, the inside hind is stepping under. And when you sit, the outside hind is stepping. So you aid just before the second beat - if you have slow reactions like me, aid right after the first beat.
For a downward transition from canter to trot, start to half-halt when he’s on his third beat, that final down-swing. Radar gave me a fabulous collected canter today that I could not be happier with. ♥
Radar is the best drafty lesson pony. Don’t argue - I’ll fight ya. ;)
We had so many walk breaks today because it’s 90 degrees and poor Radar is just not built for the sudden onset of dry heat. He got his fronts injected on Monday, though, so he felt a lot smoother today, and definitely more willing.
Also, there’s hella suspension in his trot now. There’s a split-second of air time where there wasn’t before, and it’s so good. Fancy dressage Fjord is fancy.
I need to lift my knees away from the saddle more at the beginning to loosen them up. Otherwise, tight knees take you too much off the tack. Alternating posting and sitting do wonders for stabilizing your leg. Also, when Radar’s got his big trot goin’ on, control your big posting better - use your abs to block the forward motion and use your thighs to lower yourself down more quietly.
I think I’m starting to get how it feels when Radar’s offering his left lead. It’s my timing that’s the problem - you know, in that I’m SO SLOW. I catch the beat when he’s offering, aid, and afterward, realize I should have aided before I even thought of aiding. Also, when he gets it, he needs immediate confirmation. Sometimes, that means I need to put on stronger aids or add a tap with the whip. And afterward, a lot of petting and “Good boy!”s because as much as he looks stoic, he’s such a goob inside.
Trainer says Radar’s probably never going to get his left lead as good as it used to be, but after this week’s injections, his left lead feels a lot more together than before.
Radar is a super saint for not being pissed that I disturbed him from his nice afternoon nap (I know I would be, and to be asked to exercise).
My feet were a lot quieter today for some reason, but I kept throwing my balance whenever I tried to sink my heels lower. Radar is a saint for a lot of things, but he’s not very forgiving of weight on his forehand. Whenever I fix my feet, I’ve got to sit deeper to remind myself not to lean forward.
Radar wasn’t worked that much this weekend, so he was very up! Er, for him, anyway. We got some good air time in his trot - for a drafty pony type, he has some hidden suspension, ha.
I GOT A COLLECTED CANTER??? FROM A DECENT HALF HALT???? Is this real life?? (from right-lead canter, of course. he’s getting his fronts injected this coming Monday in hopes of making his left lead more comfortable)
We could still get left-lead, but it takes a lot of bending. A LOT. Especially since Radar tends to lean against the leadline going that way. I have to keep strong, unified outside aids to keep Radar from leaking to the outside. And a very direct open inside rein to actually get him to bend. When you see his neck jump up a little with a bump-bump, immediately aid for canter. When you see his inside shoulder just begin to move forward in the trot, aid. When you feel your outside hip start to lift a little, aid.
My timing is so bad, but I’m starting to get when exactly to put on the left-lead canter aids. I just need to get there a half-second earlier.
All in all, though, Radar did his best trotting his little heart out today, so I’m happy for that. <3
"[Radar] is by the far the most un-ambitious horse alive." - trainer
In lieu of a fortune cookie fortune for Radar. :P It’s true - and not necessarily a bad thing when you consider how many newbie riders get started on him.