Monday, October 1, 2012

One, Two, One, Two

This morning I worked with Winston before going to work.  It was nice and cool at 7:00 when I mounted up -- around 60F.  The high today was 95F at the house and at work... down in the flat lands of LA County?  108F.  Yuck!! 

I had a very stressful day ahead of me at work (talking to my staff about the upcoming lay offs), so I wanted to ride.  I was able to completely forget about work and just enjoy Winston.

When you ride a test at a show, a good judge will write comments that help you understand what you need to do to achieve a higher score in a particular movement.  There were a couple recurring themes in the judges comments on my tests Saturday. 

1) On my trot work, which scored 7s, she wrote "tempo varies, needs longer neck and better stretch."  So to score an 8 next time, I need to make sure our tempo is consistent and that he stretches to the bit. 

2) For our canter, which scored 6s: "needs better balance, bend and stretch." 

3) For the collective (overall summary) score: "tempo varies, transitions should be smoother, some bracing through neck, some disobedience."

This morning, we got to work.  When I was a kid, I played the viola in the school orchestra.  I loved it.  I sucked, but I loved it.  I could not play in tune to save my life, but I could keep time really well.  When Winston and I rode into the arena, I turned on my internal metronome.  I noticed that he slowed the tempo when he was unsure and when he was anticipating.  I kept my tempo the same regardless -- instead of following him.  I counted out in my head, and out loud at times, "one-two, one-two."  Winston flicked his ears on me What is that woman saying now??!  It doesn't sound like "good boy."  I'll just follow along and hope I'm not in trouble.  By the end, we were consistent and Winston understood.

We did a bunch of walk-trot transitions.  I would walk, transition to trot at C, trot in a forward even tempo  all the way around until we got back to C, transition back to walk, at the next letter pick up trot again and go all the way around.  Once we had made a transition at every letter, we changed direction and did it the other way.

We did a teensy bit of canter work, concentrating on balance and bend.

We finished up with some leg yield since he was so nicely balanced and even.

I went off to work.  My meetings went well.  I went to the gym after work and then came home and scarfed a sandwich.  A box had come in the mail (don't you just love that?  Boxes in the mail are the BEST).  I had ordered some area rugs for the kitchen.  The pads I stand on when working in the kitchen had started to curl.  They looked awful and we were forever tripping on them.  The new rugs cover the pads and I think they look great with the red stove.


  1. your kitchen looks great - but that is where you create such great looking meals so i'd expect nothing less. :)

  2. Love the rugs!
    On the subject of tempo: my youngest daughter, a far better rider than me, was starting to work on a freestyle routine, and rode with her ipod and earbuds one day. She was astounded at how much better her ride felt, the music really helped her define rhythm and tempo in Aero's gaits. It might be worth a try, or have a radio or CD player going while you ride?

  3. PLEASE share where you found these WONDERFUL (are they saddle blankets) rugs - and, since they are in the kitchen, are they washable??

  4. Our little gang of Sunday lesson riders spends a lot of time counting tempo out loud. It really does help.
    Love you rugs.

  5. My trainer would remind me to count the tempo out loud. Come to think of it, so did my piano teacher.

    There is a nice article in this month's Dressage Today about tempo, I believe in regards to freestyles. There are stacks of iphone apps for metronomes - who'd have thought. ;D

  6. I would not have your motivation in the morning. Kudos to you! I love the rugs. What a pleasure to see each time you walk into the kitchen.

  7. Beautiful kitchen Annette!! And your new rugs are perfect. When I used to ride in Ray Hunt clinics, he was very big on cadence, tempo and really feeling where the horses feet were at all times. Very helpful because the horse is very much in tune to what our bodies are doing, even if we're less aware. Sounds like you and Winston are doing beautifully!

  8. Sounds like you had a great schooling session. I really need to get a more consistent rythym too - we had it but it seems to have slipped away over the summer. Good suggestions re music and on-line metranomes. Like you, I often count.
    Nice rugs / kitchen.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.