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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Friday, October 1, 2010

NOT a WEG post!

I am pretty sure that half the people I know are all at the WEG right now. Blog posts, Facebook updates, texts and e-mails all regale me with tales of world class riders and horses all dancing together under one Kentucky sky. And I... am sitting here in a rainstorm in New England, very clearly NOT at the WEG. I almost had an opportunity to go, but it was too last minute and our staffing situation is too fragile for me to risk leaving right now, so here I am. It's all right though.... I honestly would have never been able to afford it. The prices for tickets alone are ridiculous and I unfortunately have more important things to waste money on, like feeding myself. (Who does that.)

Rather than grump around (although I did afford myself a grump day or two last week when I found out my ingenious plan to make getting to the WEG work actually wasn't going to work at all), I put my time to good use. After my anti-arena bareback dressage-hack on Monday, I did some actual real dressage on Tuesday, and given all our wet weather found myself riding in the indoor arena for the first time in seven months. SEVEN! I somehow managed to avoid it for that long. I never ride indoors unless I have to. I do appreciate having the ability to have indoor access in the winter - an expensive luxury, especially here when land is scarce and property taxes are high - but if I don't HAVE to be in there, I won't be. My outdoor is totally flooded at the moment, so I really have no choice. I thought she would be spooky, freaky and wild, but she was honestly very quiet. Apparently, the door grelins were not around for our ride... or maybe her brain just settled down a little with all the steady work and turnout. Either way, she was quite magnificent, and while she didn't give me anything outstandingly amazing, I could not have asked for better behavior on her part. The work was fairly simple - walk/trot/canter, circling, some small lateral work at the walk, and transitions - but she was really quite good. It's interesting to note - I haven't ever gotten to that sweet spot with her that I normally do during our dressage rides in the past year, but the overall quality of the work is much more solid and higher. When I put up a contact and ask her to go for it, she does. Last year she would have fussed and fussed for 45 minutes and then finally gotten to the sweet spot, the perfect relaxation and harmony that I love finding in this mare. This year, it seems, she's grown up a lot mentally and going to a moment right before breaking into the sweet spot, but never quite gets to that point. There's more of a positive tension in the rides, more muscle action. I think we'll eventually get to that state of serious relaxation and ease, and the work is generally of a much higher quality anyway so I'm happy with it at this point. I went back and watched some of my dressage tests from last year, and I am shocked at how much better she moves now overall. I'll have to see if I can get comparison videos up here, you won't believe it.

Wednesday, I received an early morning phone call from Bettina stating that she and the ladies (her clients at my barn) wanted to treat me to a lesson with Wendy Murdoch, a clinician specializing in rider biomechanics. She was coming that day to do some work with a few of our ladies, and I was totally floored by the gracious offer. Seriously, could these people be any sweeter??

We have one tiny partially failed blip of the lesson, and nothing more:

The sound on my camera isn't working either... video fail. What I like best about the video despite the technically issues are the couple of strides she takes right before she halts. She has SUSPENSION! And it just happened that way, it wasn't asked for or done on purpose. She's a fairly flat mover who uses her energy efficiently, so to see that was exciting. There's promise for collection after all!

The lesson went very well. It was completely focused on me, and had pretty much nothing to do with Gogo. Wendy first realigned my pelvis, which has a tendency to tip dramatically forward, and had me walk a few circles to get used to it. I was amazed to find how much more secure my seat was - and it had nothing to do with strength in my abs. It was all in my spinal alignment. Next, Wendy took my right leg and twisted it, shook it, wiggled it, and moved it around until it loosened up a bit and she was able to put it back in the stirrup in a different location. "You were taught to wrap your legs around your horse weren't you!" she exclaimed. Yes, indeed I was! She then told me that the way we are taught to do that isn't actually biomechanically possible, which wasn't a surprise to me. It seriously torques your knee if you overdo it. She had me walk and trot around like that, with one fixed leg and one incorrect leg, and it was amazing how much more stability I had in my fixed leg. No wiggles, no bounces! I wasn't rising up off my stirrup anymore! She went ahead and wiggled my left leg as well, the one with all the hip issues, and went about it in a completely different way. Once I was realigned and rewiggled, I went off to walk and trot with this new balance. It was very different! It felt much better, but I had a difficult time maintaining it. My legs just wanted to slide right back into their old spot. I think I will need to practice with it quite a lot, and Wendy gave me some on the ground homework which involves standing facing a wall, placing my legs hip width apart and my kneecaps touching the wall, and posting with my hips. It's HARD! Never thought there would be a day when I'd need to relearn how to use my hips while posting. I've got some real work to do!

The only unfortunate thing about this lesson was that it took place on Wednesday, my usual trailering out hack day and the only nice day we had all week. It looked like this all day:

Which was amazing, but depressing since we were in the indoor. Shortly thereafter, the rain started to fall, and it literally had not stopped since. Road are closed and flooded, things are washing and blowing away, and the horses have been stuck inside for two days. Apparently, Mother Nature is making up for all the rain we didn't get all summer. I had hoped to possibly get a few horses out today, but I just looked up and it is torrentially pouring once again. Great.

So for the third day in a row, yesterday we were stuck in the indoor. I had on my jumping tack and the world's tiniest gymnastic set up, and it was interesting trying to translate what I had taken out of my lesson in dressage tack, and apply it to the following day in jumping tack. Weirdly enough, I think my jumping equitation is about as good as it's ever been... on the flat. Over fences, well... there's some work to be done. But I am aware of my faults and I know how to fix them in theory, it's just lessons and practice from here on out. The exercise I set up was simple, just three trot poles to a small crossrail, but after a few good times through it I put up a very small vertical and gave it a try:

A little awkward, a little sloppy for both of us, but successful and quiet. Sweet!!!

Today was a total washout with all the rain, so my scheduled hack didn't end up happening, but that's all right. She'll have today off instead of Sunday, and I will hack out up the road either tomorrow or Sunday, and hopefully head to the beach on the other day.

I might not be in Kentucky right now, but I sure have some....



Val said...

Gogo looks awesome! And so do you!

My teacher is very knowledgeable regarding horse and rider biomechanics. She taught me to find neutral pelvis. I also learned that many of the things that she helped me correct, I had been taught to do all my life (like wrap your legs around your horse, put your lower leg back, jam your heels down, arch your back to sit up tall). *cringe*

The first time that I rode with her, she spent the entire lesson on my posting trot. I could not believe how my horse was moving, or that I had so much to learn about rising to the trot after 20 years of riding. It was a major eye-opener. I continue to love it!

TallDarkAndSpotty said...

Yeah for jumping! Congrats on getting her one step closer to being her fabulous old self!

And I am SO happy to see at least one other blogger that isn't at WEG!!!

Muriel said...

I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing, it is really inspiring. Gogo's feet are BEAUTIFUL!

My mare is still shod, and will be for a while, as one cannot slide without shoes (she is a reiner). We had feet issue, due to bad shoeing (doh!), wrong nutrition ... After being barefoot to let her feet rest and we are back to shoes. My main problem is to find a decent trimmer ... As you have also found out, the level of abilities is very different from one to another trimmer. Plus shoes for sliding.

My question is do you know if I can use "gel lightening" with a shoe on?

Andrea said...

Do you mean the White Lightening gel? If so, then yes! It might be hard to get the gel up under a shoe though, so a soak in the original formula might be easiest. (That stuff is gold... I love it!)