We've been doing circles with leg yields, walk/trot transitions in corners, trot/canter transitions on what theoretically was a circle (apparently squares are more circular than my circles while cantering) added in with lots of screaming about close my fingers, stop bracing, bend my elbows, close my !@#$% fingers, look at the gigantic loop in my outside rein, get those hands even and those fingers CLOSED, take a deep breath you're making HER nervous, sit up straight, I've seen half-dead horses trot faster than that, use your LEGS and yeah.... frustrating!
Bahaha....oh man. TOTALLY UNDERSTAND....If it's not one thing, it's another.
I am also wondering in the 35 minutes you say it takes to get your horse to where you want it, just exactly what are you doing to get there. Everything mentioned by Anebel and Maura are fine after the horse AND you are warmed up but just what do you do from the moment you first sit on this horse to the point you become happy with her work.
Alrighty. Lets get right into it. Typically lately, as the weather has turned and we've had lots of snow, she is a little frisky when I bring her in (no traction in the field even with the studs). So to start, we'll do about 15 minutes a side on the lunge. We'll focus on trot and canter, in the attempt to get her over her back and moving forward before I get on. After that, we'll warm up with a few rounds of walk on either rein, first with a loose rein, and then in the frame? (I put a "?" simply because I'm not quite sure what the favorite terminology is around here - I typically would've said on the vertical, but who knows - can someone clarify so when I'm explaining myself and trying to learn something I can be clear? ).
After this, I've already worked myself up to the point that we're going to have to trot eventually and this is where the problem starts. She'll be warm and soft and gorgeous at the walk - as soon as we kick it up a gear the first thing she does is bring her nose up. I think this is mainly attributed to the fact that she now knows that she can !@*# with me because I haven't been consistent with this in the past. So because she's gotten away with it before, now she's learned and this is where we're at. So we'll post trot for a decent amount of time on both reins. I'll work on some serpintines if I have room in the arena - really focusing on bending, flexing and trying to get her through. I have pace issues - so I'll try and stay conistent with the gait. I will try *not* to worry about not being in the connection, as as soon as I start to get worked up about not getting anywhere I get tense, then she braces - and as the others have mentioned, everything become more difficult.
Then we'll move on to sitting trot - I think I've done a great job thus far of really sitting and controlling my seat. We've done a lot of no stirrup work in the past and it has really helped. Now - if she's not over her back and we're not forward and round, obviously sitting becomes slightly harder and neither of us are as happy as we could be. None the less, I will sit and again work through serpintines, bending and flexing trying to accomplish the same thing.
Recently, as in over the course of the last week, we've bumped up canter to way earlier in our sessions as this helps with our forward movement, and I seem to have no problems with coordinating everything in the canter. She's round, forward, I can tell that my hands, seat, and legs are doing everything they are supposed to be doing, and I have a much great ability to "tweak" the gait more accurately then I do at the trot.
Anyways, eventually, after cantering (always after this point in our sessions/lessons), it's much easier to get her round and forward (obviously). So this is typically where I hit the 35 minutes and things start to come together (not all the time, only some).
Today, was another interesting experience. The canter was GORGEOUS. Trot, a complete failure. I got maybe the last 5 minutes on either side semi round at the trot, so was fairly disappointed. I rode with two of my very good friends (both training 4th level, and showing 3rd), and both commented that this is the hardest part of the level that I'm at. I remember in summer when I first bought her, and I couldn't sit for crap - thinking that I would never be able to ride without stirrups. Now, I prefer it. So I understand that this is one of those things that will come with time. But I'm also open (very open) to learning from the veterans on the site as in combination with my amazing coach, anything at this point that helps me get past this hurdle would be truly appreciated.
From what I'm reading you are over thinking. Simplify.
I bet you anything that there was a time when you're coach told you all the same things about inside leg, outside rein, shoulders, positioning, blah blah blah - and that at the time you were going wtf am I supposed to do with all of this information - LOL... it's so easy to say "simplify" when you already have the ability to do it, and do it beautifully! I agree with your line of thinking, I'm just saying - remember back to when you weren't the gorgeous rider that you are now and you were going through the same issues I'm having, and try to remember how that felt.
I laughed at Delfina's post because it's so absolutely true - if it's not one thing, it's another, and at this point it takes a ton of focus to ensure I'm doing all the right things at the right times, while allowing her to move like she's supposed to move.
anebel I have a question though - re: the bucking strap - use this while holding the reins at the same time to assist in moving with the body and not her mouth? Can you elaborate? I'll try it if you suggest it and then report back on how it went.
You ladies are wonderful - I'd love to hear any more feedback on the information I posted above. I should mention that my girl is a 5 year old Trakehner cross (TB/Percheron).