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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dressage Clinic 3/27-28/09 - Sharon Schneidman

The past two days, I've had the opportunity to work with Sharon Scheidman, who came here to do a clinic at our farm. Sharon was a coach for the US Para-Olympic team last year in Beijing, along with having a USDF gold medal, 40 years of experience, winnings in Florida at the FEI level, and more. Vicki was wonderful when it came to this clinic, because she managed to get me the price of two semi-privates for the price of one. Sweet! I found Sharon to be witty, funny, refreshing, very kind, and very insightful. It was really great to hear a different perspective from someone who understands a little bit about hotter, event-type horses - her husband Grant competed with the international USEF Three-Day team.

Friday, Gogo was awesome. Just AWESOME. Awesome, amazing, incredible, beautiful! When I first went to talk to Sharon about her, and discussed some of her major issues, she gave me some really excellent insight into the psyche of an event horse. Vicki has really put an emphasis on decreasing her warmup time so we can get on to improving other things, and I don't disagree with her, but I think at this point that it may not be what Gogo needs. If I get too focused on the warmup instead of letting her just warm up, I can get too picky with her and what she is doing instead of letting her figure it out on her own, and she can get annoyed with me about it. I discussed this with Sharon, and she said something simple: "Event horses just warm up differently than dressage horses. Take your time." Essentially, she described how her husband had told her that the dressage horses he now rides are so easy to warm up as opposed to his event horses, and that the warm up time was cut in half, and it made me relax and feel better. It's not my inability to create a soft, supple horse in minutes, it's her inability to get there that fast just yet. On good days, our warmup time has been cut at least in half from last December or so though, sometimes more. And that was just how she warmed up on Friday - quickly, easily, and quietly, and we went on to perform some of our best work yet. Expressive lengthenings, 10m circles to shoulder-ins, leg yields of all varying degrees of steepness, some REALLY nice canter work, and a million excellent transitions, as well as trying out varying degrees of collecting her and letting her back out. We stretched and came right back, too! I also, for the first time in I have no idea how long, had the chance to drop my stirrups and work that way, and I REALLY felt it straighten and lengthen my position. I had a really classical, upright, straight and correct position last spring, but I feel like I've let it slip, and the pictures I posted will show that my shoulders have rounded, and I'm sitting in way more of a chairseat than I ever want to be. (My camera was around on day 2, which is very sad because day 1 was when I should have had it!!) She felt amazing, supple, loose, and light, and I got off beaming. Sharon said she really liked her, and really thought she could go far.

Well, yesterday was not as great. It wasn't bad, per se, but I was subconsciously trying to manipulate her in the warmup again, I think, and of course because I did that, she was very flaky on the contact for pretty much the entire lesson. It was my fault, Shannon was in my lesson with me and wanted to go for a walk hack before we started to work, but I should have warmed up in the ring instead. By the time we got back, we were 5 minutes late, and I wanted to get right to work so I could make the most of it. Gogo, however, doesn't work that way of course, and while she wasn't BAD, we never got out of our warmup phase. I got zero out of the second session, and that was kind of my fault. At the end, she told me that my take-away homework was just to practice endless, endless, endless patience and the rest would come from that. I told everyone I was going to stay out for a minute longer and do some more trotwork to see if I could get her brains back, and they all left. Of course, I ended up relaxing my shoulders, letting her do what she wanted to about the contact for a few minutes (popping above it and whatnot), and being in general very soft with her, and lo and behold, tada! Perfect horse. We did all sort of varying degrees of leg yields and half 10m circles, changing directions halfway, so we were never on a straight line - always circling or going sideways. Something about that plus me finally relaxing my body made her come super round, super underneath herself and she became super supple. Hooray! Only the lesson was long over. So booo.

No more mister crap position is my take home lesson here! No more roundy shoulders, no more occasional forward legs. I'm going back to my old, perfect position and YOU CAN'T STOP ME! New plan of action: In the warmup, focus on my position only, and kind of just ignore her until she decides that she wants to play. That way, I can take my mind off of wanting to ask her to do more than she is capable of at that moment in the ride, and can improve my position at the same time. I think this will work out just fine.

Today I'm supposed to go on my 2-hour conditioning hack.... but it seems to be raining a lot. :( We'll see how the afternoon shapes up....


Hosschic said...

Thank YOU so much! This makes perfect sense to me too! I cannot wait to try this after I get over this cold! & its raining here too! Thank you thank you thank you!

sally said...

am loving reading about your adventures with your gorgeous mare envious of your approaching summer as we head into winter down here in N.Z.
Have also taken on board your interval training/conditioning for my mare as the hunting season gets going.Makes a big difference. Good luck with the training

Wiola said...

I have finally stopped and read your posts properly and what an interesting read it was!
All the best with your eventing season and with tweaking the warm up routine.