Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time Off: A Great Tool!

Remember how in my last post I said I wasn't too worried about McKinna having a light month last moth, since she usually comes back well after a break?

I love it when I'm right.

At our dressage lesson last night with Leslie, McKinna was back and better than ever. She felt free and swinging in her shoulder, and generally focused on the task at hand. Together we're really developing a feeling of straightness in the trot: Leslie uses the image of one of those little levels sitting on her withers. Will the bubble be in the center? At the trot, yes it is. And I am consistently able to develop more of a trot lengthening without losing suppleness or freedom through the shoulder.

Best of all, remember the first baby steps of haunches-in that we were trying out? Well, I haven't really practiced it. Mostly because I have barely ridden! But at the lesson last night, when Leslie had me ask for haunches in, McKinna just said, "Right. Got it. What next?"

I mean, it wasn't exactly that easy. It still takes some effort to get her to hold the correct positioning, and my mind has to jump around to a bunch of different things to fix - keep her supple, ask for inside bend, outside leg on to keep the haunches in, don't forget the FORWARD. Reminds me of our early attempts at shoulders-in. But the important part is that she now understands what I am asking for and she tries to give it to me. How she figured it out I'll never know.

Leslie even had me ask for a little travers to renvers - haunches-in to haunches-out. When I have more energy I'll explain the two thoroughly, but for now my understanding is this: haunches-in, you move the haunches to the inside of the forelegs while continuing forward and the horse is bent in direction of travel (i.e., when tracking right, the haunches travel to the right of the forelegs while maintaining right bend). Renvers is opposite, moving the haunches left and maintaining left bend while tracking right. I think.

The switch from travers to renvers was rather wiggly and I'm sure I contorted my body into all kinds of crazy positions, but we got the idea. That's the exciting part. Leslie commented that we are well on track to have a really successful season.

So maybe some time off isn't such a bad thing for your horse's training. Granted, McKinna went out every day in a big old pasture with 2 - 4 other mares, and still got ridden once or twice a week. Locking your pony in a stall for three weeks may not produce the same results. But if your horse is in a situation that allows an outlet for excess energy (e.g. turnout), maybe don't feel so guilty next time you end up really busy and barely ride for two or three weeks.


Promise said...

Sounds like a great lesson!

I always try to remind myself that they enjoy time off (especially with turnout), even when we feel guilty about not riding...and I keep telling myself that the week before Christmas (the last time I rode) Promise was pretty stiff and a bit sore because of the intense cold snap we had...and the time she's had off since then will probably benefit us both when I go out on Sunday.

Val said...

McKinna will be giving you halfpass in no time! I like shoulder-in to renvers. The shoulders and hindquarters remain in the same place for shoulder-in and then you just change the bend for renvers.

manymisadventures said...

She is definitely going to get another day or two off now...we just had a really awesome but very intense clinic this weekend! It went well but two days of 2 lessons per day wears you out fast. She was such a good girl.

Val, I sure hope so! I schooled just a little haunches-in during my warmups this weekend and she is really getting it at the walk, so we'll just keep on working. I am *so* excited for our first half pass :)

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