Show Season

Show Season

Sunday, April 29, 2012

2 Trainers

It has been an interesting week.  I had a lesson with my trainer on Tuesday evening and two lessons with Lex - Friday and Sunday evening. 

My trainer asked what I wanted to work on and how things were going.  We decided to concentrate on contact and circles.  She asked if she could get on Riva and see where she is as far as accepting contact.  As I watched her ride, she basically rode Riva that same as Lex does - inside leg and inside hand asking for the contact with steady outside hand and leg.  Some stronger taking on the inside when Riva would raise her head, while pushing her forward.

When I got on, we started with the 20 meter circles at walk.  I am doing fairly well at establishing and maintaining contact at the walk.  I still need practice on the walk to trot transition, but am able to keep the contact most of the time.  Once I am in trot is where I need the most help with maintaining contact. 

Well, Tuesday's trot circles with contact were a mess.  And it got worse as the lesson went instead of better.  I did post the one picture just to remind myself to get my elbows back and legs back!

Not an excuse but I was probably pretty frustrated by this picture.  No contact going on at this moment in time!

My trainer is great and has helped me with so many things in the time I have been taking lessons from her.  She is patient and encouraging.  But, I feel she does not instruct me to ride the same as she does.  When instructing me on riding with contact, she tells me to give light sutle cues...squeezes on the inside rein, opening and closing my fingers, etc.  Does not work with Riva at this point - I know this is what we are working towards, but it takes more than sutle cues right now to get and keep the contact.

So the frustrating part is seeing how she rode Riva and how Lex rides Riva - but her instructing me in a much different way. 

Lex was home over the weekend and rode Riva both Friday and Sunday evening, before giving me a lesson also.  Her instruction is much different and she does have me use the same techniques as she uses to establish and maintain the contact in Riva. 

Instead of drilling circle after circle, Lex had me ride a 20 meter circle to the right, then switch at X to a circle to the left. Then she had me trot down the long side, then a diagonal, maybe the next time move on and off the rail, then do another circle.  Lots of changes, keeping Riva's mind occupied, etc.

Walking back to the barn at CAF at the March show, with Lex as my trainer.

It is wonderful to have both trainers helping me with Riva.  Lex is learning from one of the best dressage instructors around, 5 days a week of riding under her, and is able to pass this knowledge on to me and Riva.  My other trainer has years of riding to her credit, takes lessons herself from the instructor that Lex is working under, and is a licensed dressage judge.  She is wonderful with position and biomechanics of horse and rider. 

So my challenge is to ride like I know I need to ride Riva while in a lesson with my trainer.  I do need to work on circles, but Riva does not handle continuous circles at this point. 

As I wrap up this post, that has no conclusion, I know I am blessed to have this as my biggest problem right now in my life.  A person who is important to our family is struggling with much larger issues and trying to stay strong for her children.  She is in my thoughts and prayers tonight.


Emme said...

Having a Trainer and a Daughter/Trainer myself, I know what you mean. Sometimes I think they tell you what "should" work, rather than tell you what does work for you and your horse. I get frustrated with the disparity too. Almost a childish "but you don't do that" attitude on my part. They are using the "do as I say, not as I do" lessons. And maybe they think they are soft and subtle? But we are lucky to have access to two viewpoints, now all we have to do is figure out what actually works for us....

SprinklerBandit said...

Before you get too bent out of shape, remember that you are not the rider that Lex is and you are not the rider that your trainer is.

I'm not saying you're a bad rider. I'm saying that you're a different rider in a different place with different challenges. Maybe there are things you need to work on before moving on to the things that Lex and the trainer do.

Speedy G said...

I have had to deal with this issue, too. And in fact am dealing with it right now with Sydney. I love my trainer, and she has helped me enormously, but some of what we're doing is NOT working with Sydney. I've resorted to trying it my own way with him, and I am having better success. I know that it's not pretty and it's not quite what she would like, but at least I am getting something. In a few weeks, I'll take him back for a lesson and see where we are. In the meantime, the work she and I are doing with Speedy is going really well.

I have been through a number of trainers and realize that you really have to find one that works WITH you. Maybe she's the perfect trainer for you, maybe she's not. It's okay to look around for someone else. It doesn't have to be personal. You just want results. :0)

I will say that dressage is the most ridiculously humbling experience possible. I wanted to quit on Speedy so many times over the last two years. I am so glad I've stuck it out because finally, after a lot of work, we've started to show some good forward progress. It took a year and a half before we developed any amount of connection. We're now getting it, not 100%, but at least I know when it's NOT there.

I have been in your shoes, and often still wear them. Just keep on keeping on and the pieces will fall into place. Last summer I would have KILLED someone to be able to show at training level and not look stupid. Viola! One year later, I am showing Speedy G at T1 and T2 and we're even getting respectable scores (62% at T2 the first time we tried it!).

Best of luck to you and your pony. Keep working on it and it will come! :0)

Carol said...

Sounds like you're a lucky girl and you know it :) I thought your position in the picture was quite good. Working in correct contact doesn't come easy, but you know that :)
Keep up the good work. You're making good progress.

Katie McKinstry said...

Okay, now that your following ym blog I shall follow yours! talk to me about contact! uhg my horse was in a trailer accident and broke his pelvis in 2008 so now he has a hard time keeping his hind end underneath him to keep the contact, but as hes getting stronger its getting more consitent but still not where I wish it could be... do yuo jump?

Theresa said...

I'm surprised no one has suggested that you talk to your trainer(s) about this? Rather than a "but you don't do that" approach, which, we all feel at times (Emme), I would suggest..."Lex, could you help me understand something? I understand that I am supposed to be subtle, but, I noticed some things you did that were very effective, and, its something I would like to learn. Would you mind hopping back on, so we can discuss what you are doing, and see if it is something I should be doing?"

Trainers are people too, and, as you said, they are taking lessons themselves, so, they are still learning. Having an honest and open, and respectful relationship will only improve your riding and understanding, and, you might even help them to learn something about themselves as riders and trainers! Just, be respectful in your approach, and I think you'll get past your hump WITH your trainer! If you try to talk to your trainer, rather than just switching trainers, you'll be more likely to make progress, and less likely to turn into a trainer hopper! Good luck!

Suzie said...

This might sound a bit silly, but one thing my trainer used to do, was face me as I was sitting on the horse and take hold of the reins near the bit. He then got me to take the contact that I thought I needed, or that I was using on the horse. He then was able to show me, in pressure he put on the reins, how much I should be able to feel. He also used this technique to speed up my reactions. If he took a sudden pull, he wanted me to react instantly. I always found that this gave both of us - the trainer and me - a better idea of what was going on. Contact is a funny thing to judge from the ground and ideally it should be a conversation between you and the horse. Maybe try practising this conversation with your trainer at the end of the reins first. You could ask her to show you how much contact she has when she rides Riva, and how firmly she uses the aids.

achieve1dream said...

My trainer did the same thing that Suzie's trainer did!! If I was having a problem with something she would also get up on the horse behind me and we would both hold the reins while she showed me what to do to get the contact. Worked great!

Also I was going to say the same thing that Theresa said. Talk to your trainer. They need us to communicate with them to teach us effectively. You know your horse better than anyone. If Riva gets bored on circles tell your trainer that. It might be easier to learn contact while doing small serpentines or something.

I was taught by my trainer to use inside leg to outside rein for contact. The outside rein holds the shoulders on the circle and is also where you give the half halt (and yes my trainer would have me give some fairly strong ones when needed). The inside hand just has a very light conversation with the horse to keep them from turning their head to the outside and to encourage them to relax. That's just how I was taught though. :)

Keep up the great work! You'll figure it out. :)