Friday, August 15, 2014

Catch Up Training Post

I've been distracted by all these fun blog hops, but need to take a minute to catch up on life with Mr. Heems. This blog is first and foremost a way for me to document and contemplate our training progress; to mentally work through approaches and issues so that Hemie and I get the most out of our time together.

Also to share pictures of dirty ponies.

Last week I got a mini lesson from barn-mate TK that focused on my position. Specifically:
  • shoulders back
  • long arms; short reins; hands near the jump strap
I had an aha! moment that my shoulder position is independent of my seat position. Turns out I can move my shoulders back even if I can't sit deep in the saddle. Hemie will sometimes get stiff-backed especially when he's hot/sassy/spooky. Its almost impossible to have a deep seat and a light 3-point is the best I can do. However, TK helped me to ride with better shoulder and arm position even when that happens.

Last weekend we had family visiting so there wasn't as much horse time as I'd have liked. On Saturday I had the saddle fitter out ( to adjust the flocking on my Stubben Roxane jump saddle and also check the fit of our Bates Isabelle dressage saddle. This is the same saddle fitter that Karen of Not-So-Speedy Dressage has used. Tina helped me understand saddle fit better, and explained what I'm looking for when feeling his back muscles. Hemie got a 5-minute ride to check saddle fit, then because he stood like such a good boy for all the adjusting, he got 10 minutes of hand grazing, which he LOVED (super rare in my area to have actual green grass that the horses are allowed to eat).

Monday night we had a jump ride with 3 other girls at the barn. Normally we're not all there at the same time so it was a special treat. Hemie was hot and sassy and I wasn't being a proactive rider, so the ride was rather meh. Not bad, but not good either.

Wednesday I decided to be more thoughtful about the ride to make sure it really counted before our lesson on Thursday. We started with a longe and bit-up, and added some trot poles. I really focused on hind-end engagement and even tempo. That set us up for success for the rest of the ride. We did flatwork in one arena, focusing on impulsion, connection, rhythm, and straightness (no falling in or out). He was so good, after about 15 minutes we headed to the jump arena where we cruised around and did some small fences. Overall Hemie was fabulous, and I was proud of myself for being more present and more focused for the ride.  The key is to focus on what you do want, rather than what you don't want.

Last night we had a jump lesson. I longed him first with the intention to do a bit-up, but he was stretching his neck nicely, engaging his hind end, and kept such a great rhythm that I didn't bother with side reins. We did a fun gymnastic: bounce, bounce, one-stride, with runway poles on either end. I had a tendency to bring him into the line under-powered, but we corrected it by focusing on quality gaits and energy. Hemie was a total champ for the whole ride, and even stood around patiently while I watched another lesson immediately afterwards.

Also, I dyed my hair back to my original color. I kept some blonde for fun. Here's an awkward riding outfit selfie. Yes, I do ride in faux pearls, lol.

Now go check out Cob Jockey's contest!


  1. Being present while riding is so important but sometimes so hard to do. You look good in your original hair color :)

  2. I used Tina Hoover all the time when I lived in SoCal, she even helped me buy my last horse. She's the best!

  3. Cute hair! :0)

    When I was at White Birch last weekend for the show, I walked around the barn, heading down to the covered arena, when I nearly bumped into Tina. I had one of those, "what are you doing here moments?" before I realized that, duh!, she fits saddles all over southern CA, not just in Bakersfield. It was good to see her and good to watch her fit other saddles.

    Shoulders independent of seat - oh, yeah! JL has drilled that into me, particularly with Sydney. I learned that a while ago because I HAVE to sit up with him or he's a run-away, but at times, I need to keep my seat light at the same time. It's a great mental connection to make because it gives you lots more ways to use your body.

    I like to watch the really good jumpers use this (like on TV). Those horses will be galloping like made, and you'll see the rider sit up and back, but they're still in 2-point.

    It sounds as though you and Hemie are motoring right along. I hope to be back at White Birch in early November. Hopefully we can meet back up. :0)

  4. Great update, I also like to ride in fake pearls, feels so fancy!

  5. I'm part of the fake pearls club too! :) Also, loving the hair!