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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lead Changes A Go-Go

Yesterday and today have been resounding successes for Gogo. After her weird mouth thing that went on, I wasn't so sure how she would be once I actually got back to work after a week of lunging and hacking only. As it turns out, either the mouth irritations were a figment of my imagination (they're sort of still there but they aren't bothering her.... maybe natural little red dots that are always there?) or they've stopped bothering her. I had a dressage lesson with Vicki on Saturday, and Gogo was absolutely supurb. Excellent. Gorgeous. Lovely. We lengthened with ease, we leg yielded with suppleness and grace, we did shoulder-in with a hair of collection, we did perfect and powerful walk-canters, we transitioned between gaits with suppleness and fluidity, and she stretched over her back out to my contact and stayed there. And the really good news is she's been having excellent, stress-free, productive workouts like this for a couple of weeks now. Perhaps it's moving into the norm for her instead of the rare occasion. Perhaps, and just maybe, dressage has finally clicked completely in her head.


Today, I jumped her for about 1/2 an hour, and she was excellent again. Totally quiet, completely relaxed, ready to trot quietly to the next fence and be-bop her way over it easily and smoothly. There were 4 trot poles, a small x-rail (set up for Ashley) with a pole on either side of it, and a one-stride gymnastic with a spacer pole in the middle of it (x-rail to vertical). Everything was set as trot-in, which was really good for her gymnastically, and mentally. We worked on quiet halts afterwards, and she was just RIGHT there - all I had to do was sit a little deeper and she came right down into a balanced, square halt, on a mostly loose rein. She could not, however, manage to canter the x-rail - she kept trying to take off before the ground rail and land beyond the other ground rail, which was a distance of seriously like 10 feet. This was not in one fluid jump, mind you. Her legs were just all over the place! I think it really was just set up way too short for her long stride to possibly cope with it at a canter, so we went back to trot before she got too flustered and kept it at that. Everything was small and simple, with the vertical maxing out at around 2'6". In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to set up a gymnastic that brings her to a gradually heightened final fence. I want to test her scope a little... keep raising the end fence until we max out at say, 3'9" maybe. She's done 3'6", but I want to introduce the concept of bigger fences to her, so that she knows she can do them.

The other thing Gogo and I worked on today was lead changes. Gogo, while on course, has auto changes, and has had them since she was a very balanced 5 year-old just being started under saddle, but when I ask for them, it's sometimes a little bit hit or miss. Going left lead to right, she gets her changes 99.9999% of the time when I ask, but sometimes is late behind by a stride. Going right to left, she misfires half the time, changing with her front end but not her hind end... ever, until I bring her back down to trot and try again. Seriously, she'll cross-canter on a 10-metre circle for an eterntiy, not even kidding you. But today, every time I asked, she nailed it, even right to left. You could tell she was making a real effort to do it that way, complete with a body lurch and a swish of her tail, but she did it cleanly, and when I asked. We did a ton of them! What a good girl she is.

And now, it's HIGH time I actually posted my January goals for Gogo:

January Goals:

1) Be able to ride a smooth, consistant stretch down and back up at walk and trot
2) Ride First 1 Monday 12th, Ride First 2 Friday 16th, Ride First 3 Friday 23th, Ride First 4 Friday 30th
3) Be doing steady, consistant canter shallow loops (counter canter exercise) – not just coming off the rail and then diving back in!
4) Do body stretches (especially stretching her stiff side) before every hard workout
5) Be able to nail lead changes while jumping

Well, we're well on our way to the lead changes on! I guess a few of those aren't *goals* per se, like the body stretches one, but it's a guildeline for myself that I want to follow more closely. I think body stretches are very helpful, but also a bit hard to squeeze in when you're a working student pressed for time trying to ride your horse inbetween the turnout schedule, which is the most erratic and varied thing you've ever seen in your life. There is ALWAYS a horse coming in or going out.

So yes, Gogo's upcoming week looks a bit like this:

Gogo's Weekly Work Schedule 1/11-1/17

Sunday 1/11
Jumping: Keep it simple, work on rhythm, relaxation, gymnastics, lead changes

Monday 1/12

Dressage: Transitions, looseness, relaxation, leg yields, counter canter, shoulder-in, trot and canter lengthenings

Tuesday 1/13
Dressage: Transitions, looseness, relaxation, leg yields, counter canter, 10m circles to leg yields, shoulder-in, trot and canter lengthenings, stretchy circles

Wednesday 1/14
Lunge: In chambon... FORWARD, transitions, steadiness and stretch

Thursday 1/15
Dressage: Transitions, looseness, relaxation, leg yields, counter canter, canter-walk-canters, 10m circles, shoulder-ins, trot and canter lengthenings, stretchy circles

Friday 1/16
Dressage: Transitions, looseness, relaxation, leg yields, half-halts, counter canter, canter-walk-canters, 10m circles, shoulder-ins, haunches-ins, stretch and coming back up, trot and canter lengthenings

Saturday 1/17
Day Off: Handwalk twice, 20mins each

I should also mention that Friday the 16th is the three-year anniversary of the death of Metro, my second horse. I will have plenty on that subject later, but it pains my heart to think about it right now.

I don't want to go to work tomorrow... I want to go home to Alex.


1 comment:

Kris said...

Gatsby and Gogo appear to be sharing brainwaves or something...

He has great changes on course, can usually get his right lead nicely but frequently cross fires when we try to do a flying to the left. I'm not sure what it is about the concept of being in the middle of a course that makes it easier for him.

One exercise that I've found helps him and "kills two birds with one stone" is picking up the counter canter for a lap or a circle or figure eights (half counter canter half correct lead) or whatever and then doing a flying change to switch to the correct lead. I never do my flying in the corner though because if we do lose the counter canter that's where we lose it and I don't want to encourage that! I suppose this is also a precursor to tempi changes, although I have only dabbled in dressage so I have no idea how you actually go about teaching those.