Monday, August 8, 2016

Lesson Recap and Airport Folly

I'll start with the airport folly even though it has little to do with anything. I flew out of SFO to Chicago last Friday with a two hour delay, but that's okay, no big deal. Until we learned that my flight out of Chicago had been canceled and rebooked for 24 hours later. My sister is a superhero and drove the six hours to pick me up in Chicago, and we drove home. We discovered the next day that my flight had been canceled AGAIN, so if I'd waited in Chicago it would have been 48 hours until I made it to Traverse City.

Then yesterday I was having a hard time checking in, so when we took SO to the airport for his (also delayed 48 hours flight... he was supposed to leave Friday) I ran in to try to check in. Turns out that because I hadn't taken the Chicago-TVC leg, they canceled all the other parts. I got put on standby for my original flight pattern, didn't make the flight, am now in Chicago and flying to SFO later today.

I'm just irritated but thank you, dear Internet friends, for allowing me to vent. On to the horses, which is why we're here:

Leg is better but upper body what's your plan?
I started off by warming up a little bit on my own - I’m struggling to find a balance here. About 85% of the way into each lesson I’ve hit a bit of a wall with my fitness level. This challenge is increased by the fact that as Kat tires, she may relax a bit, but she needs me to be even more balanced, well-timed, and in control. So on this occasion I trotted the arena a few times each direction, did 20-meter circles in various places, trotted the short diagonal and struggled with straightness, then ambled around until Tracey showed up, but it still felt like too much. Next time I’m going to walk the arena and do some figures at the walk to show Kat around, and save the trot work for Tracey.

I told her that I’d like to show Kat training level mid-August (this weekend actually, haven’t sat on my horse in ten days, lol, what am I doing) at a schooling show so I can start to think about what elements I need before showing at a rated show.

She likes to take the assumption that most people probably don’t know anything, so we reviewed our dressage test geometry. We covered a lot of tips and although I ‘knew’ most of them, it was probably the first time I’ve had someone really nail me for not following through on my head-knowledge. I’m sure I’ll say nothing new for you guys here, but it’s good for me to write it down.

Where did all that neck come from? I seriously do not remember putting all that neck there

1) Corners don’t need to be any deeper than the smallest circle at any given gait. For training that means a corner at the canter is a quarter of a 20-meter circle, but the trot work must be a 10-meter circle. We didn’t work on this because either I performed it well enough to please Tracey or she was too busy having me get more accurate about, well... everything else.
2) A 20-meter circle at A has very specific touch-points. Four meters past F, two meters past L, four meters past K, and then touch A (of course.)
3) At B, the circle remains two meters inside L and I. This does not mean 1m inside L and 3m inside I. You have to stay centered. When you’re thinking really hard about everything else, this part gets trickier.
4) Straightness in the walk on the diagonals is one of the hardest places to stay legitimately straight.

We also worked on spiraling in and out of a 20-meter circle with some baby leg-yield steps to enlarge the circle. When Tracey threw that exercise at us I thought ‘finally! Something we’re really good at’ but I am so glad I didn’t say it out loud because I might be good at something involving circles getting bigger and smaller but I am not good at: keeping my hands completely still so that I can keep Kat’s neck and head upright, keeping my legs underneath me in a way that balances my body so that I am not left behind, keeping my ribs evenly balanced so that I am upright in my torso, keeping an amount of bend that is consistent with the circle (less bend than I want to create, dammit), and asking for hind-leg crossover with correct timing for her biomechanics.

 We only worked on that a little bit as Tracey wanted to help me get ready for this show and I think our combined crookedness in even baby lateral movements was a bag of worms she didn’t want to touch. It’s a little frustrating because in just these few lessons Tracey has expanded the amount I can feel by changing my focus, but my ability to execute on these feelages has definitely *not* kept up. But it’s also exciting because I know I’ll get these tools, and I have full permission to experiment.

Then we worked on the canter. And the sitting trot a little bit.

Last week she told me I sort of shove with my seat into the canter so I solved that problem by basically two-pointing into the canter. Over-corrections for the win. She wants me to sit the trot for a few steps into the canter which.... is a mess. I’m embarrassed by how messy it is. I can sit the trot, I swear, sort of, maybe I just think I can. But I will continue to practice.

We held the canter for a while and I got some “are you sure this is the same horse” comments which was nice to hear considering I had actually cantered Kat only once since our previous lesson. We kept talking about holding the saddle away from her chest, and we talked a bit about bend at the canter. I hold too stiffly through the outside rein (which is related to bracing my right leg forward and collapsing my left side), but then when asked to give forward a bit more I sort of throw the rein at Kat and see what happens. In this case, she slowed down and offered an even better canter, but that didn’t necessarily have to be the case.

I have some other pieces of video that I'll chop together for a better look at the horse when I'm not in the airport, but holy wow, that canter looks so nice. (It's too hard to really enjoy it yet hahahahah)

Hope everyone's Monday is going perfectly!

A video posted by kel (@kelequestrian) on


  1. Yeah they definitely do that with multi leg flights, I only found out about it this year from someone else at the airport!

  2. Such a beautiful nugget! You guys look great

  3. "my ability to execute on these feelages has definitely *not* kept up" - yup that about sums it up for me too haha. These lessons sound awesome!!!

    1. They're so unbelievable - they remind me of your dressage trainer C in a lot of ways