Monday, June 27, 2011
It was a tough ride this week. I am working really hard on breaking the habit of hanging onto my inside rein. We have discovered that the more you hang on the inside rein, the more she leans in and bulges the outside shoulder. So we are working now on MY habit of using the inside rein instead of using my outside aids.
In addition, Kelsey is trying to gently coach me into trusting my mare more and more. It is hard to break a cycle of fear that has been going for several years now. In all honesty, Delilah hasn't done that much to truly warrant me being afraid of her. We've had a LOT of running around, but nothing overtly terrifying, a few unsettling spooks and one very minor fall, and a lot of headtossing. But in truth, the mare deserves more trust from me. So I am working on it. It helps to watch her training rides, and see how calm and relaxed she is learning to be. Every time I watch her go around like that, it reinforces in my stubborn little pea brain that she is capable of going calmly, and deserving of my trust. So I am working on it, step by step. We decided to do my next dressage lesson in one of the paddocks, to see if being contained in an area other than a giant open field will make me feel a little more comfortable and get ME to relax.
Sometimes I feel like the slow kid in class. My biggest problem, other than fighting nervous tension, is that I tend to react too slowly. I see Delilah pull the same tricks when Kelsey rides her - bulging a shoulder, tossing a head, leaning in...the difference is that she nips it in the bud so much faster than me. By the time I pick up on what is going wrong, it is three strides further ahead, and most of the time something else is going wrong by that point too. It can be frustrating, putting all the puzzle pieces together to add up to that perfect picture. But I am determined to get there in time.
So at the end of our ride, I gave Delilah a much deserved bath, went home and showered myself, and then passed out for a two hour nap. It was nothing short of a perfect Sunday.
Oh, and a quick side note - I think I have mentioned before that Delilah has always been a freak about people touching her ears. She also detests the gnats getting near her ears when we are riding, and even flips her head around if her mane is tickling them too much. So when I went to the Camden tack shop on Saturday, I bought a crochet ear net to try, thinking to myself that there was no way I would EVER get it on her. Well, shockingly enough, I had it on her in less than two attempts. I was a PROUD mama!!!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
She has settled into training beautifully. She looks incredible - Kelsey keeps her in a stall or a shaded paddock, so her coat looks better than ever. And she has lost her big grass gut, from the combination of regular work, and regulated turnout. Kelsey started jump schooling in her second week of training, so we took some video on Sunday afternoon of her schooling jumps. It went so well that Kelsey hopped off, switched me her boots and half chaps for my flip-flops, and let me hop on to try her out over a tiny crossrail.
(We'll see if I end up posting the video of that...I have to admit, I am shamefully in shorts and half-chaps, which equates to me as a mortal sin of riding, but nevertheless, it was worth it!)
I started out by trotting her around and feeling her out a bit. The difference from a week prior when I rode her was so apparent, it was amazing. She was instantly softer and lighter than ever before. We did a few circles, then hopped a small crossrail Kelsey set for us. Before I knew it, we were cantering off, and I didn't even realize until six strides out that we were CANTERING, and it was supposed to be SCARY....What an amazing feeling! We cantered around the open field, came back to a trot, and I hopped off and loved on her like crazy.
I have a huge bad habit I am working on erasing. My previous trainer had me relying on my inside rein to "pick up" Delilah's inside shoulder and keep her from leaning on it and curling behind the bit. Kelsey has figured out that too much contact on the inside rein does entirely the opposite - it causes her to lean on the inside shoulder even more. So I am working really hard on correcting the habit of laying on that rein constantly. It is so HARD to break bad habits!
And finally, an update on Samson! He has been cleared for a slow and cautious rehab program! We are going to start out with a lot of walking, then start adding in five minutes of trot work after a couple weeks. Lots of trails and basic, slow strength building. His ultrasound looked fantastic - Smokey didn't see much to be concerned about in terms of long term soundness issues - he just wants to make sure we take it very slow and cautious. He was a little concerned about his weight loss, so we discussed a few different options to help him continue gaining the weight back that he lost while he was on stall rest. He is getting spoiled with alfalfa hay now, and he has already gained a little since getting put on Strategy and his supplements. So our plan is in place to get Samson back in the saddle again!
Monday, June 20, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Well, I am ecstatic to report that Delilah's training is progressing phenomenally! I got to observe her whole training ride yesterday, and I cannot say enough good things about her progress. I am attaching a video of her canter work, after only one week. Kelsey has made amazing progress with her. She was calm, balanced, and didn't flip her head at all. Kelsey has done a lot of work on not letting her run into the canter, but rather lifting into a smooth transition, and it has made all the difference in the world. She needs a lot of strengthening and balancing still, so we talked about adding back in a lower level joint supplement to help her with her old minor stifle injury. I still cannot BELIEVE the progress they have made in only a week of training! I find myself wishing I had done this a long time ago, but regardless, I am ecstatic to have finally gotten things moving for the better!
Monday, June 13, 2011
I have to admit, I had the minor fantasy that I would get on and Delilah would show this immeasurable improvement...turns out that I am going to need just as much work and she does! I know this for a fact, because we worked for quite awhile on getting a nice steady contact at the trot, but our biggest problem (as usual!) was the consistency of her gait and the contact. Turns out, I know that I will need a lot of work as well, because Kelsey hopped on her for a few minutes to demonstrate a couple of things, and after ONE slightly rough circle, she had her completely together and looking PHENOMENAL. I was absolutely amazed. She had her going in figure eights, with perfect (and correct!) bend, engaged behind, and with steady contact in her hands. I have never seen her look so incredible.
She does her training rides in the morning, so I am actually going to stop out tomorrow before Samson's vet visit and hopefully get some pictures or video to add! I am really excited to see the progress continue. She is doing the most incredible work with her!!!
In addition, I have met the most amazingly generous woman who boards at Robyn's farm, who has offered me total access to ride her warmblood mare anytime I want while Samson recovers from his injury! I rode her for the first time on Friday night, and she was an awesome ride. She is a huge mover, and a very steady and trustworthy jumper. I am so excited and grateful to have the chance to continue to ride her!!!