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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gogo the Lippizaner

I have had a pretty successful week thus far with Gogo. Actually, the week ends here - tomorrow I am headed to Ohio to spend some quality time with the currently far-away fiancee, and I won't be back until Saturday night, so Gogo gets a mini vacation.

Monday's ride was quite excellent. Gogo warmed up relaxed and quiet, and proceeded to give me some excellent trot and canterwork, including some shallow canter loops on the left lead, heading across the short diagonal, and maintaining the counter canter through the corner in a balanced and - dare I use the C word? - collected way. She was giving me the closest thing to collection in the canter that she's ever given me, really sitting down and waiting. Then, of course, going the OTHER way we tried to toss in some awkward flying changes in our shallow loops, and then did a horribly disjointed and awkward unintentional flying change coming across the short diagonal. Well, after that the rest of the ride continued to be very good, but she started clacking her teeth (which she seems to do about mid-ride for various reasons... sometimes tension, sometimes difficult work) NONSTOP for the rest of the ride. The quality of work was very high too, but UGH! That drives me insane. It's not visible unless you're right up next to her, and you can't hear it unless, again, you're right next to her, but I can hear it for sure and I can feel the vibrations coming up through the reins, and it DRIVES ME NUTS. She only does it at the trot, and does it in rhythm with her stride, like she's keeping her own tempo. When she is REALLY tense, she will gnash her teeth at the walk and trot very violently, which usually corresponds to an imminent Gogo Explosion, but something extreme has to be happening (like bears chasing us through the woods) for that kind of mouth action to occur. The rest of the time, pretty quiet mouth. Like during out warmup? Totally quiet mouth, totally relaxed work. The teeth clacking continues for as long as there is contact with her mouth at all once it has started - if you totally drop her, it stops temporarily - and it ONLY starts after something difficult has taken place. And at this point, I don't know what to do about it.

The next day was interesting - had a lesson with Vicki, and she started off HOT TO TROT. Some walkwork helped to quiet her down, and then she was very relaxed and quiet starting out in trot. We started harder work, and she was still excellent - leg yields, lengthenings, shoulder-in to haunches-in, tons of transitions. She was awesome, UNTIL I attempted to come down the quarterline in canter on the right lead. And she tilted in, hit my outside rein, and had a FIT - literally out of absolutely nowhere with NO warning did a serious of HUGE plunging rear-leaps, courbette style! Oooookay, back to canter, let's try that again on the next long side. Same thing, but this time more dramatic - several large rears which culminated in a huge literal courbette (reared and then LEAPED into the air!), then landing and doing a classic Gogo rear-and-pivot-and-shoot-off-180-degree-in-the-other-direction move. This almost took out Ted and Vista, the 84 year-old boarder with the 23 year-old horse, who hapened to be on the rail at this time right next to us. Yikes. I think I almost gave him a heartattack. Right then Gogo, one more time, and this time we will have better balance coming out of the corner. What do you know, a PERFECT quarterline, which we then moved into a few 20-meter stretchy circles where she stretched down and up and down and up again, perfectly. Mares.

"Volatile" I think is the perfect word for her.

And today, I just put her on a lunge line and let her spin in a halter for 20 minutes. Oye.... watching her go on the lunge without tack on is a bit painful, seeing as she inverts like a camel, drags herself around on her forehand (no matter what speed she's going), and goes around with her head so high that her face, at times, is literally parallel with the ceiling. I love my horse SO much, but oooooh she is ugly when she does that. She looks SO good in the barn, and SO good under saddle, and SO good lunging with tack, but without tack? Hmmmmmmm.

Oh Gogo, you are so silly sometimes with your special Lippizan leaps and llama neck.

I will be on a brief hiatus for the next few days, as I said before, so look for me at the end of the weekend. See you then!

PS: Check out this website. I know we just had this discussion about modern vs. classical dressage (and this is leaning towards the classical side for sure), but it had a lot of really awesome images and actual moving illustrations. Really interesting.

All right, now I really need sleep, because it's almost midnight and I have to be up at 3am. SIGH!


DressageInJeans said...

Silly mares!

Awesome website, really enjoyed it!

Totally loled at the CLASSIC western 'supple' move at the bottom. HAha.

dsmjunkie said...

I think Klein's draft mind kinda cancels out almost all silly mare behavior.
Sweet website. Have fun in Ohio!

Stacey said...

Ugh! That's me above, obviously. Again I forgot to sign my husband out!

Funder said...

Where in Ohio is your fiancee and does she maybe want to go trail riding with me some time? I'm oddly nervous about meeting horse people IRL in Ohio!

Lots of Walkers do this weird lip-flappy thing when they're working. Along with the head nod they flap their bottom lips into their top lips. It's pretty individual, but shows up under "hard" work when they're really concentrating on keeping time. Drives some people nuts but I kinda like it :)

You're totally brave making Gogo canter down the quarterline THREE TIMES. I mean, I know better than to get off when a horse tries that, but I have been known to ask for something slightly easier, praise a lot, and call it a day. I'm occasionally a smart chicken!

Kelly said...

The site shows fairly good food for thought. I agree with some of it but most of it. However, it's too emphatic of always riding "poll high" or up.

While the head and neck, are large parts of the horse (60 percent)-- it's really the shoulders and the hips that control the balance and are keys to riding through (physics). If one is out of alignment, the body will reflect it.

Because the poll maybe up and face on the vertical, doesn't mean that the horse is a) moving in balance b) supple (e.g. stiff) or c) off the forehand (e.g. balanced). In fact, it can be quite the opposite effect with different horses and their particular body types and needs. Would I train a horse with a thick neck and big shoulder the same as something along the body type as a thoroughbred? No.

Their view point of tension is also off. Training involves stress, it involves tension (negative and positive), and specific conditioning to it. Their viewpoint of it, the horse should be a zen noodle and we, as riders shouldn't disturb or push them from that point. Training isn't perfect, in fact, it can't always go correctly, nor will all horses come out feeling the same way day in and day out. That is apart of the developmental process. They have good and bad days.

This obsession with the outline of the horse is really detrimental. Again, the biggest thing about this sport is feel and being adjustable. It makes for a stronger, more trainable horse in the end. The question becomes can I put the horse where I need him, add different elements of training while keeping him through and honest (without negotiation). Always riding in one position hurts and doesn't do anyone any good.

Another thing to think about when it comes with piaffe and the other photographs:

Dr. Clayton: What I've found out about piaffe is that different horses perform it very differently and individually. All horses trot the same, and all horses passage basically the same, but each horse has his own "fingerprint" in piaffe. The very top horses piaffe more like the passage or trot the less good horses lose the diag. rhythm in piaffe. I have not seen horses that have an airborne phase in piaffe, instead of leaping from one diagonal pair of legs to the other in piaffe the horses step from one diagonal to the other.

Funder said...

Kelly - I hear what you're saying about the balance site, but I also think it's really useful for people who don't have all that much experience. I don't have a natural eye for the way a horse's outline looks when collected versus extended, or for the signs of traveling on the forehand. A bunch of simplified line drawings, like on the balance site, really helps me develop my eye. It's got a place!

Funder said...

ARGH this has been bugging me for like three days now:

I am not a crazy internet stalker, I swear. I have moments where I'm just terrified to move so far away from my home and all my friends, and you mentioned Ohio when I was feeling freaked out. I'm not gonna stalk your fiancee, or you, I promise!