Saturday, July 18, 2009

All The Time

Obviously I spend a tremendous amount of time riding and watching horses work.I ride at least six to eight horses a day and usually teach two or three people a day.

I am constantly trying to improve my communication skills to the horses and the people I teach.I take lots of lessons myself,I talk to a shrink about sports,the horse business,people,life in general.Having riding lessons to me is a combination of a trip to a spa and a visit to the shrink with a chiropractor thrown in for body realignment.

And lately I have been watching a few new videos thanks to a recent sale at Bit of Britain.Badminton 2009 is an EXCELLENT video.The course was GREAT! The new dressage test this year (the same performed at Rolex) is a WONDERFUL test that really requires riders to ride better and I agree(with Mike Tucker) the movements are so exactly what we need for cross country and show jumping.Oliver townend and William Fox Pitt ride so very well.Oli deserved the win and great to see a new face on the scene.( Not that he hasn't been around for a while slogging away)His horse was perfection over the 4 days. Oli had 3 great rides and I thought his horse such a perfect type.I watch the video over and over and over.Thats the way I want to ride.I think about it all the time.William Fox Pitts show jumping was superb (as was his dressage and cross country).There were also many other greats.Having been to Badminton so many times it is fun to watch the courses,horses and riders change,but great technique never does.

Another great person jumped back into my brain and is off the bookshelf and within my daily grasp.I fiqure if I can just look at her pictures all the time,something may creep into the necessary gaps between my bones.Ginny Leng.She was a MASTER.I had a discussion the other day about the word through and the concept of throughness.I can't wait to see my friend again and show her some really simple phots of Ginnys horses that are so straight.I remember watching her ride a lot and wow was she direct and straight.She had such control and balance it was SCREAMINGLY GOOD!I hate to say was.Anytime you get to watch her you will receive a master class in eventing.I am thinking about this all the time.

Looking for the straight lines,the releases of the muscles and the horses attitudes is what I look for all the time.WhenI can see it in a lesson,video or a book I think it is great.When I can see it,I can feel it.The more you know where you want to go,the easier it is to get there.But you have to look for it All The Time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Champagne Run Horse Trials

After much anticipation ,we made it to Kentucky for Champagne Run.The eight hour drive was well worth it.I haven't been to that event in quite a few years.The cross country course alone made the trip for me as I had hoped.

I did learn though that the next time I travel for eight hours with this batch of horses and most likely all my horses I will go a day earlier to let them settle for a day and then have a work day on the property.I felt the devils had drawn up quite a bit from their trailer journey.I decided not to ride them the afternoon before the dressage on the next day.I do feel that decision had a negative effect on my tests.I was hoping a day off would allow the horses more relaxation the next day.They were sharp and unattentive and I was a bit dissapointed in the way I rode them in the dressage phase.Harry was distracted and Peter was also not connected the way I like him to be.Pickles had a huge nervous breakdown having come down to the dressage area way too early.He stresses tremendously in the small arena and the less time around it the better.It is very hard to get the timing of three horses in the same class just right,especially when the stables are very far away from the arenas.There is tremendous pressure on Barbie my groom to get it all done on time.She does a great job but this time we messed up the timing a bit with disaterous results.

I have learned a lot in my old age.Even though the dressage phase did not go especially well.I was pleased with myself for not getting ragged out about it.I knew the jumping phases were very important at this event asI knew Champagne Run would be a step up in the degree of difficulty for my devils .We trained methodically for this step up and I was not dissapointed.

Three double clears in the show jumping made up for the not so great dressage.Again,I am so happy to be putting my show jumping demons behind me.No matter how awkward Pickles is in the dressage sometimes.He is like putting on my favorite loafers in the show jumping.He has gotten very reliable in there and I have waited for that for a very long time.Next dance gave me the smoothest jumping round I have had in YEARS! And Peter Pan ate up his round though I have a lot of work to do on his front end. Last week in preparation for the event ,we took off the running martingales and it made a world of difference to Peter and Harry (Next Dance).

The cross country course was GREAT FUN!! The ground was good as Kentucky has had lots of rain.We were anticipating very hot waether but it was breezy and pleasant enough.we didn't even hook up our fans in the stables!It helped that I had all three of my rides completed before 9 am!

The jumps across the country were up to size.Lots of brush fences which encourage bold jumping.This course really made one feel you could really ride up and attack the fences and get a solid jump.There were some nice combinations, a bounce,ditch and brush,skinneys and the two water questions were serious enough and the coffin challenging enough to make one ride well!Peter and Harry jumped around this bigger track well.I did not get near the optimum time as I felt it was too much of a push for these youngsters.I did feel I could go for it on Pickles,my final ride and I made two CLASSIC ERRORS!!!!!!!,resulting in TWO STOPS!!!!!!!!!!

I was too confident and made a CARELESS approach to 4a ,a sizable drop question with a house after it.SHEAR CARELESSNESS and over confidence got me my first 20 penalties.Then I balanced Pickles too close to the bounce and he stopped again.It was another rider error and I have to say that one caught me a bit offguard.He zoomed around the rest of the course with ease and I was happy with him none the less.It was a GREAT WAKE UP CALL to this rider to NEVER EVER LET MY GUARD DOWN AGAIN!!!!!Pickles is VERY sensitive and it was MY fault.I can correct it and I am glad I am clear on what I did. Now hopefully I won't make those mistakes again for a while.

Riders NEED to make mistakes and learn from them and try again.Harry finished a credible 7th in his first prelim run and Peter was 8th,Pickles was 14th.

So with Champagne Run behind us we are going to go to River Glen next,then I think back to Kentucky in September AND OCTOBER because of the quality of the cross country courses there.I also feel the my horses can benefit from the big atmosphere of the Kentucky horse Park.It is a longish drive but I feel the track is worth it for the horses.But I would consider going a day earlier next time and see what that does for the devils.

We are happy to be home.I am thrilled with the boys.I am happy to say they are all laid out flat in the fields today,snoring away.Sounds like a good idea to me!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Out Of My Box

Recently,I attended another (third this year) ICP teaching workshops.This one was a level 3-4 given in Bluemont,Va. by Karen O'Connor.There was an impressive group of people there and we all worked very hard.The ICP workshops and system is no joke.It requires a TON of knowledge and confidence.The days are long and very hard work.I teach clinics all the time for as much as fourteen hours straight withought sitting down sometimes and they are a virtual piece of cake compared to these workshops.

One is required to teach a lesson with an introduction,a safety check, a few minutes observation of horse and rider to make an assessment and lesson plan,explain the lesson to the instructors,teach the lesson,and then explain to the instuctor whether or not you felt you were sucessful in producing results.This all happens in 35 minutes.

There is masses of imformation and required reading and I tell you ,you need to know it ,no matter how comfortable you are in your own skin teaching at home.These sessions really take you out of your own box and comfort zone and it's easy to get bogged down.

Taking myself and my system to Virginia ,and being so against the clock I ran into time management and verbage issues.There are alaways differences in degrees of importance and I left out a multitude of things in each lesson and was mostly humbled at the end of each teaching session.

One has to teach a dressage,show jumping and cross country lesson.There is a lot of required imfo for the three diciplines.Everyone worked hard.One gets back to the chair feeling rather small and thinking "yea............. But", a lot.

Self Doubt was there with me.Confidence was not in my pocket ,the way it normally is.The pressure I put on myself was similar to the way I used to beat myself up at a competition.Self mutilation is my specialty.So ,I think it is great to get out there and do all that stuff.The imformation and requirements are fair.You just have to be able to produce on command and not get wrapped up in the small stuff.One step in front of the other........we all put our pants on one leg at a time."Now,now Lellie....CALM DOWN....................................."

I am taking my exams soon .I know I will have to be in the books to pass this test.It is not done by charm alone.So,stay tuned.I enjoyed my three days in Virginia ,but have to admit I was VERY HAPPY to get back to Aiken and ride again back in the box I am more familiar with.