Sunday, March 30, 2008

Videos From Training Session

I was able to watch a great deal of the lesson from video uploaded online. Many thanks to the photographer!!

I have embedded the three best videos here but you can see the whole set below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

If you end up watching all twelve parts, we need to get you a horse because you apparently have too much time on your hands. :)

Week 4 of Training

Another weekend, another training update. Brego continues to do well with my wonderful dressage trainer. She is starting to refine the lateral work, and getting him to move off her leg, with only slight pressure. I tend to be very "heavy" with my aids, so my trainer has to continually undo my wok to teach him to listen for super light aids. So far, he's catching on fine.

I only have pictures for now. Hopefully, I can post some video later today.

Her comments this week are that he has two major obstacles to overcome to be truly great at dressage and a really comfortable ride: that ginormous noggin of his and his lazy motor. Now, being a lazy person myself, whose own natural walking stride is somewhere around 0.1 miles per hour, I can totally understand wanting to saunter instead of march. But marching and pushing off the hind end is where the impulsion and balance some from, so we need to reeducate both of us as to what a "working" gait is.

Brego needs to keep his hind end "active" at all times while in training in order to keep him from pulling himself around with his front legs. It's not a terrible vice, but one that keeps his gait from being pure and will always be a hurdle to overcome for more advanced moves. My trainer has mentioned this to me many times in the past, but it's now looming as a real problem as he becomes more educated. It's time to fix it, so we can move on.

The other problem is his head. It's really too large for his body. I saw a 19+hand Hanoverian yesterday and that horse, a full 8 inches taller than Brego, had a much smaller head. To plagiarize a not so great movie, Brego's head has its own gravitational field. That head is an enormous weight just pulling his forehand down. He will need to develop very strong muscles, all along his topline to be able to lift it properly for balance. And as we learned from an excellent treatise on the physical dynamics of dressage "frames", that strength will take much time to develop. As always, it's important for dressage to be for the horse, which means teaching him how to move to lessen negative effects on his own body without stressing him beyond his abilities. So Brego will take extra time, but since I plan on having him around for say, the next 20 years or so, I'm pretty patient.

Finally, several really nice blogs have come to my attention recently which I wanted to mention here. I am excited to see more horse blogs out there, and more interestingly, more "amateur riders finding their path" blogs. Sure it's exciting to read about that top level eventer's latest grips with their groom, but I am captivated by the more real-world problems of how to train your not-genetically-programmed-to-excel-at-X-sport with a limited budget and time. That dilemma, as Fugly points out, is really going to shape horse ownership in the future.

So, I will stop babbling and give a shout out to these great blogs. Please keep sharing and inspiring us all to find our path for the betterment of our horses.
Project Jasper - Love your horse, love your presentation, I would love to hear more about your job and about your background in classical dressage.
I is Roxie - I is in love with your horse. Keepin' it real from Idaho.
Boomer Chronicles - Boomer, thou art handsome and your mom has a gift for describing the Ammie Dilemma perfectly.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Unusual Coat Color

Long time readers of this blog know that I have struggled mightily with Brego's coat color. Well, the strangeness has reached all new levels with his spring coat grow out. His new hair is black, as it should be, but it's not coming in uniformly. As a result, Brego looks a bit like some fatty Appaloosa.

Poor guy.

The picture above was taken one day after the pictures of his longe lesson. He looks a lot, er, chunkier when he's not in motion. I think he lets it all hang out when not on duty. Brego takes relaxation to an all new level.

Longe Training

I was sent pictures and video from Brego's longe training session with my amazing dressage trainer. He was being a bit of a punk during most of it, so my trainer had trouble getting his best performance for the camera. Isn't that how it always is?

But the pictures and video still show quite an improvement. His balance continues to improve, especially in the canter, where he has a tendency (surprise, surprise) of falling to his forehand and plowing around. His trot shows energy and dare I say, impulsion. And he is performing on a circle that is quite small for him. Six months ago, he would not have been able to maintain a canter without completely dropping his inside shoulder. Now, I wouldn't say it looked effortless, but he looks a lot lighter.

Also, his body clip is growing out into the most unusual pattern. All of his new hairs are jet black and have not been bleached by the Texas sun yet. So over his old brown coat, his black hairs are very distinctive and they are growing in as a dapple pattern. He looks so bizarre.

But as always, he looks perfect to my eyes and I miss him very much. Less than three weeks now until I see him. I must constantly remind myself that regardless of his "potential", he's a happy, lovely boy just being my horse and playing around. He does not care to be the "best" at anything, unless it's eating mango slices, of course. So I should not get caught up in the thought of what he may do in the competition arena with his newfound skills. If any horse can teach the lesson, Brego shows us that dressage is for the horse. The horse is not for dressage.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pro Training Update

Well, I am very sad to report that I do not have pictures of last week's training session. The timing didn't work out with the pick up of Brego to actually see him in training. I did however talk to my trainer and heard lots of amazing things. I also confirmed with her that we will be getting pictures next weekend. Promise.

So here's some tantalizing quotes to whet your appetite:

  • "Brego has the most beautiful collected canter when he performs walk to canter departures on the longe." [I didn't think he could even do a walk to canter departure, much less on a longe line]
  • "I got two good steps of Passage on the longe" [Wowzers!]
  • "He is the smartest horse I have ever trained."
  • "Let me know if you ever want to sell him."
  • "I need to find a girth extender for him. The girth I used last week doesn't fit him anymore."
I also got treated to a nice little story about how he jumped out of the arena from a standstill where he was turned out loose before his lesson. He the proceeded to help himself to the feed bin where the grain is house.

Brego is definitely getting a little full of himself (and unearned grain) as he goes through training. My trainer is doing a wonderful job pushing him to excel while still building his confidence.

I am flying back to Austin on April 11th and we will set out on the cross country drive to bring Brego up to New England on April 13th. On April 12th, I have one final lesson planned where my trainer will bring me up to speed on all the amazing things Brego has been learning. I must admit, I am a little overwhelmed. She's done more in two weeks than I have done in two years. I guess that's what makes her a pro!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shout Out

I just wanted to give a shout out to the next new thing in the Draft World Domination Master Plan: Boomer! Check out his blog and give Janine all the appreciation and support she needs to succeed with her big boy. He's young, but he's getting a good start. Welcome, Janine!

As for Brego, he is in week two of his "Pro" training and the feedback thus far has been very positive. He's lazy and out of shape (no kidding!) but he's very smart, according to my trainer. When Hobby's mom goes out to pick him up today and bring him home for the weekend, she will hopefully get some picture of him under saddle. Of course, I will share them as soon as I get them.

On the New England front, I visited a barn just 5 miles from my temporary home and it is Perfect. Warm, friendly people, competitive, but very relaxed. Pasture board with an indoor and lots of outdoor trails. They are also very accommodating, I will be able to continue feeding Brego his obsessive compulsive-induced diet. In short, I am so thrilled and lucky to finally find a good home until I can buy a farm. And I only had to travel 2,000 miles to find it!!

The housing market in Central Texas is still relatively strong (hang in there, fellow distressed horse people), so hopefully my house will sell and I will bring Brego up the second week of April. Nothing is finalized yet, but I would love to get him here sooner than May. The trip up, including several stops at National Parks for trail riding, is already being planned. I can't wait to get back in the saddle again.

I apologize again for the slow posting of the blog. I will post more as the plans get finalized.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Official Training Begins

Sorry for the dearth of interesting or useful content. I have driven 2000+ miles to the border of New Hampshire and Maine and started my new job. Tomorrow, Brego will start his new job: "Pro" training. He will get worked three days a week at another barn (with a covered arena) by my always-excellent dressage trainer and then brought home to his pasture and Hobby for the rest of the week. It's a good thing, since the boy has gotten fat and sassy without me to remind him that he is not the King of the World.

I miss him terribly.

Next weekend, I am going to scope out the barn near where I am staying to see if we will be a good fit. He'll be living there with Hobby when he comes up in early May until I can locate and buy a farm. The plan is to find a place with a barn or have one built by next winter.

Hopefully, I can get some pictures of Brego in training to post. I can't wait to see what my trainer does with him.