Saturday, December 20, 2008

Schooling in the Indoor

I finally got some video of the progress Brego and I have made in the balance department. Of course, since there was a video camera present, the magical harmony of the previous ride was replaced with some tension. But I can't complain too much because Brego was still well behaved, he still tried his heart out. I think he might have been a bit tired from the work we did the last ride. He felt just a bit stiff in the mouth and neck. My riding could also have been a problem, since I always tense up for the camera.

Percheron Schooling Dressage from Eventing Percheron on Vimeo.

I've been listening to Jane Savoie on CD on my commutes and every section reveals at least 12 things I am doing wrong. :) But one exercise she mentioned sounded really cool so I wanted to try it. On the second track, perform a shoulder-in, to renvers, to shoulder-in then a straight halt. The hind legs should stay on the track as the front shoulders move to the inside, the outside, back to the inside and then straight halt. On the second track, it's very hard, since you don't have the rail on the outside as a crutch. I filmed our first attempt at it. In the video, the second track lines up with the post in the background, so you can see how far we stray. The video highlights three major things I need to work on: Rhythm,Tempo and Bend. Brego's bend to the right is delicious, but he is much more stiff to the left (or the renvers side in this case). Also, as he performs the movement, he loses his rhythm and the tempo slows. Now I say that "Brego is this or that", but more likely, it's me or my cues. So this is something I need to work on. But I thought the exercise was really good at manifying these flaws so I can work on them.

The walk-canter transitions are coming along nicely. They illustrate Brego is gaining strength and balance. Even through his frame is "low", he is powering nicely into the transition and staying balanced.

The final thing I am proud of is the final halt. Brego actually dropped his butt in the downward transition instead of falling on his forehand and stabbing his legs into the ground. The canter to trot is weak, but the trot to walk to halt is much improved. Woot! Notice that I am not focusing on where his head is at all, I am focusing on his butt and his balance. The head "set" or frame will come out of these improvements we are making in his balance. The most important thing is to keep that big body pushing forward from behind and staying off the forehand.

As for my riding, I look pretty weak and I am still not sure what to do with my hands. I feel like my reins drift too long and you can see that when I break contact to shorten them, Brego comes up in front. I need to fix that bad habit to help him stay more consistent.

All in all, not bad for some winter work. I am not ready to go out and do my Training 4 test, but we will be ready by Summer, so I am very happy.


Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Brego has a lovely trot! Very nice impulsion.

Andrea said...

Those walk-canters were much nicer than Gogo's walk canters from Friday! Brego looks gooooooooooood! :D

Anonymous said...

I am reading Savoie's "That winning feeling". I am learning stuff on every page. Most importantly, instead of focussing on what I am doing wrong all the time, I am learning to think about what I am doing right.

You and Brego are doing fantastic.

thebeazile said...

You and Brego look great!
Nice Work!

Wiola said...

Hey Daun, glad to see you're back into working routine! Brego is looking good, especially nice to see no weakness in that left hind. I wonder, what you say about him working low etc - I might be wrong as I don't have much experience with heavy horses but he seems to prefer that 'setting' and maybe that's the healthiest one for him to be in. As he's rather thick in the jowl and not really build for dressage he might find the higher in the neck work uncomfortable.
The walk to canter transitions looks great.

P.S. No, I am not giving up teaching!! Ever. My remark is re something I'd rather not blog about for many reasons...

Daun said...

Thanks everyone, it's amazing to see how far we have come.

Wiola, I completely agree. I mention that he is relatively low, but still balanced, so I am happy. His elevation will come with strength and training, or maybe not. It's up to his ability. Right now, he's getting to be a comfortable and light(er) riding horse, so I am very happy.

Right now we're solid in the middle of training level so his low head shouldn't be a problem, even for the "warmblood obsessed" competitive dressage judges here in the US.

Funder said...

Your hat (helmet cover?) is cute. :P

I am too tired right now to say anything intelligent about Brego or your riding. I'll watch it again tomorrow and try for some insightful question.

Melissa said...

Hey, you and Brego are looking awesome! He has really nice, expressive movement.

I might be wrong, but your elbows look a bit straight don't they? My coach always tells me to make sure I have a bit more bend in my elbow then I usually do and my horse seems alot lighter when I do so. Just a thought :)! You're doing a great job!

Anonymous said...

Okay! I've been meaning to post this forever but haven't found the time. (...Or I forgot. I have the memory of a goldfish sometimes.)
For the first shoulders in on the video, he does it correctly for about two strides. Then he turns sideways. It's hard for me to explain this without pictures, but I will try! The shoulders in, in the early stages, should be a three-track movement (then later you can move to 4-track). So for your shoulder in, his right foot should make his own track, his back right would step into the track his front left made, and his back left would make it's own. In essence, the front of his body is curved in but the /back of his body is still moving straight/. At the end of the first bend, you can see the back right crossing over, rather then stepping in the track of the front left.
He does it occasionally throughout the bends. It's no real crime, just something I thought I would bring to attention. It's hard to learn the difference between when a horse is turning sideways, and when he is bending through the spine, but if you keep your focus more on his hind end it's easier.
He also seems a little clumsy throughout the exercise, between switching from one bend to the other, so I would 'dumb it down' for his body and ask for a bend, then a couple of straight walk strides until he establishes his rhythm, and then the next bend. As he gets stronger, take out some of the straight walk strides until they're gone. :)
Love his trot work. :)
Walk to canters are looking better! :D!
He's looking great even though you haven't been able to work him too much. Maybe he's enjoying his break. :)

Daun said...

Dressage In Jeans,
Woot! I was hoping you would chime in. You can't throw those wacked out shoulder ins into a video and not get any comments. :)

Your thoughts were spot on and thanks for taking the time to write them down so I can think about them. The video shows the first time we attempted the exercise, and I like it because it shows how far we really have to go. We are missing fundamentals of the rhythm and the movements themselves. I know exactly what you mean about turning sideways vs bend. I had to recalibrate my thoughts on it after the move and he was all stiff and pure sideways. Now we're getting some nice bend, but we need consistency.

Thanks again for writing in. I love hearing from you!