The past few weeks training sessions have become really focused on becoming systematic in my riding. Oded has really stressed to me that its not just important to be a good rider, but also to be a systematic rider. Essentially the goal is to stop riding on simple capabilities and talent, and work with more of an outlined program when we enter the arena daily(well we dont always school, but you get the point). The system is where excellence(and those awesome high scores) begins; it brings comfort and confidence to the horse because they know what is coming, but also if the system works they rarely feel insecure in the work, contact, etc.
Using a systematic program in work helps the rider not proceed to harder movements (pirouettes, changes, etc) without ensuring the basics first- is my horse focused? is he connected? is he on the aids? Am i bringing my hands back because he isnt through?
How can the hard things really be successful consistently without ensuring the basics are there? Making sure as a rider you are systematic. This doesn't mean that somedays you dont just focus on the basics, the stretching, the suppleness, etc, but it provides a better basis to build. And when competing its helpful to give confidence to the horse through a familiar program and expectations.
I've heard of having structure to your ride before, but unfortunately I have tended to be a bit of a "fly by the seat of my pants" rider for many reasons. This has presented issues and complications in training that will have to be handled in a much more difficult way then if I were to have had a systematic way of training. So I guess now I will continue to try to retrain my brain and old habits to make things easier for the horses!
Now that that thought is out of the way and into the world(and i hope someone else reads it and finds it helpful!), I can discuss our first rated competition here in FL.
It was HOT! What is with the high 80's and low 90's!? Not that there is really anything to complain about being in sunny warm Florida playing with great horses and getting great training.
Lumie really had an excellent amount of try this past weekend, which is really why I love this horse. If you can figure out how to teach him something he will learn it. He will die trying to get the answer right and has no quit, which we have to be very careful of. He gave me two good tests and great tries at the FEI Intermediate 1. The pirouettes were definitely green(still a big point of our trainings with Oded) and were large but he tried to give the right answer which is what matters. He is a change master and I need to really stop riding them to survive them and instead ride them for excellence which I know we can achieve-- kick the rider on that not the horse. His trot work is really lovely and even when I feel he is a bit tired or not as supple as i'd like it really still goes so nicely. The rein back needs more preparation-- kick the rider. The walk is complicated. Lumie has an old injury from a believed buggy accident from when the amish tried to break him to drive at 2.5 and we think he was flipped at least once on asphalt. He has ongoing issues in the left hip and also in the poll-- I imagine if we x-rayed the whole back we would just find more issues(thank god for Debbie and Sally at Trilogy for making and fitting a saddle he is happy in!). He tends to step short in the walk on the left hind especially when tired/sore(hard work to do these high levels). We had it looking the best ever last year, but since being in Florida its popped up a bit more again-- is it the work? is it just all the changes? I'm not sure. I plan to make a plan with my team up north-- My vet ( Dr. B Horse&Hound Veterinary) has worked on this guy for years and really knows ALL of his issues and ins and out. It is the toughest thing leaving an area and a team of people when you go to a new area and have to establish with new people even if its for a bit, especially with a horse which has such complicated issues/past.
Regardless of that he did quite well -- a 64.8% on the first day with a few expensive mistakes and a 68.2% with a fairly solid test on Sunday. Both days he won his classes (out of 4 and 9). I am really proud of him and of course he is getting an easier week this week. A job well done is always rewarded with a bit extra downtime, bodywork, and lots of treats.
Monty gets to take a bit of point on the harder work this week which is really stepping up to. He is learning baby half passes at the trot and become more confident in the contact. His canter is very much still a work in progress but he is giving the walk to canter and canter to walk a good college try as well as learning to sit on the hindquarters and not let the front legs run away. He is quite a nice mover but just needs more balance and security in the contact.
Thats it for now!
Here is a link to our test from Sunday for those who want to watch-- tons to improve(mostly on the riders part) but a good starting point: (1) Illuminator FEI I-1 68.235% 2/26/23 - YouTube
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