Cinny, moving forward...
Now that we have Cinny's issues all straightened out, we have really begun the search for a trainer. Not someone who calls themself a trainer, not a 4H leader, but a DRESSAGE TRAINER/COACH. Some reputable trainers in my area have finally come up with some openings so I am set up for a few trial lessons. Tonight I had one with my BO's friend whom she says is a great Dressage instructor/rider.
I went with this person, we will call him D just because my BO suggested him and I didn't really want to "rock the boat," even though I am on waiting lists to get into other stables where I can better work with Cinny. Now my BO is a bit of a control freak to say the least and won't give me this guys last name so I can research him, nor will she give me his number. Instead SHE wants to always set everything up which is an issue because she has proven to be flaky and forgetful unless you are one of her 4H girls :(
But I digress. Back to tonight's lesson. It ended up being a semi private as some of the 4H girls were invited to and they of course got most of the attention. D did ask about Cinny's history and I simply told him that he has only bee under saddle 2 years, he was a previous pasture puff with some trust issues and that we have only just recently began to work on connection as it has taken me this long to get him to not toss his nose in the air whenever I pick up the reins as well as to get my hands quiet. I also need to improve halts and half halts.
Next thing I know he has me turning Cin man into a peanut roller riding on loose reins and "bumping" him whenever he puts his nose in the air. I had flash backs of my WP training back in the 80's. The 15 minutes of D's time that I got was spent with him telling me that my horse needs to get into "frame" and that he needs to learn to "frame up" before we move on. So now I'm thinking of the pyramid of training...Rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness, collection and trying to figure out at which level "framing up" is part of because I thin we are just leaving "relaxation" and going into "collection" at this time in our training. If any of you know which step "framing up" fits in to, please chime in. I always thought it was somewhere AFTER connection but I could be wrong.
There are a lot of things that D says that I agree with, like where the saddle should be placed, tack fit, etc etc. Asking my horse to be a peanut roller has me baffled. I think it is great for working Cin's topline and I think I may include the long lows, but somehow I don't feel like concentrating on his frame is going to move us forward. Again, chime in if I am wrong.
So then we are done, we untack and my BO chimes in "why don't you tell D what level you want to go to and ask if Cinny can get there." This opened up a BIG can of worms! I stated that my goal with Cinny is to reach a 60 in training level at the local schooling shows. It would be fun to see how far he can go but I don't think he will go much further than 1st level.
Well, basically D says Cinny pretty much sucks eggs and that I will only ever get embarrassing scores out of him because he simply does not float and judges only want to see nice pretty floaty horses in the Dressage ring, even at local schooling shows. In fact, he was surprised that we ever got above 55 in Training level as my horse just really sucks THAT bad. He says Cinny is smart and can be trained and learn how to use his body but he basically should stay out of the show ring to save everyone the embarrassment.
I am not looking to go to the Olympics. I'm not looking to go to FEI shows, or big recognized shows. I want to have fun improving my horse and seeing what he can do at fun, local schooling shows. I'm starting to get the feeling that maybe I can't find a really great trainer who WANTS to work with me because I don't have a serious, olympic grade Dressage horse that will make them look like the most fabulous trainer in the world. I kind of understand, if a horse isn't just FABULOUS in the show ring, why would a trainer want their "stamp" on it?
But at the same time, what is a person, like me...who wants to have fun and improve their riding and their horse to do if they can't find a trainer that wants to work with an ordinary person and an ordinary cow horse?
I am feeling a little degraded today and very defensive of my Cinny. Tomorrow morning I have another trial lesson with another trainer who is just starting out but is well known in the area as a great coach and rider. I will be working with her lesson horses first, which I think will help me a lot. I hope she works out a bit better. I know she fits in to my schedule WONDERFULLY but I know I can't let that influence me as to who to pick.
Any comments, words of wisdom, advice, or attitude adjustments are welcome.
I wish we lived near each other so we could go trainer hunting together! I think between your Cinny and my spazzy Arab, we'd really put a trainer through the paces!
Sorry no advice. Good luck in your search.
I see that you are goal-oriented, & that is a positive. But, if the showing is a hassle & trainers are just putting you or Cinny down-is it necessary? If you enjoy riding him & he is responsive to you-is that enough? You've been through a lot w/your horse & I would like to see you enjoy him & not be thinking he isn't "good enough".
I had another trial lesson with another trainer/coach today. This person has been up the levels and uses classic German training methods. I really like her a LOT. I rode one of her lesson horses, a wonderful Morgan who really made me WORK HARD. Not in moving forward but in using my own body to properly control myself while riding. If your seat has flaws, this horse will bring them out, but then you learn how to fix them. My abs and butt are both burning after our ride!
As for Cinny. This trainer, we will call her J, believes that all horses can do training level work....eventually. She also does not like to assess a horse's potential to move up the levels until they have developed a good strong top line and connection. These are two things Cinny and I are both barely starting to work on. She says that no horse, no athlete can do ANYTHING in their sport without proper muscle building. She believes that passing a horse up as "not having it" before this has happened is like taking a 4 year old kid off a play ground who has no gymnastics training, no conditioning, nothing whatsoever and saying they could never ever possibly be a gymnast. I am no way taking this to mean that Cinny could still possibly be a great dressage phenom..dont' get me wrong. I take this to mean it is too early yet to tell what he can and can't do. Let's get he and I more developed and then assess later, after we have developed more.
We talked about the training pyramid and where I believe I am and where my horse is. I think we have achieved relaxation and can move into connection. It is clear to me today that I am indeed behind my horse... he may be achieving relaxation, but I am not. J has filled in some holes that needed filling in for this to happen and believes that I do indeed need strength training in my upper body especially my shoulders and traps (muscles over the shoulder blades). The weaker you are, the more effort you have to put in to controlling your horse and the more effort it takes, the less relaxed you are. The stronger you are, the more you are able to put no effort into controlling yourself and your horse which therefore allows you to relax and look like you merely sit and do nothing.
I have a lot of gym homework as well as homework with Cinny. I really like this trainer a LOT and have arranged 2 more weekly lessons. I think I may have finally found my training program an a trainer who completely makes sense to me.
Tomorrow is my second lesson with J. I am so excited. I am learning so much and can see a big difference in Cinny too. Yesterday I had him on the lunge with side reins...don't worry, this time they were on the longest setting but the lower holes in my surcingle (not on my saddle this time). He could completely stretch out but was encouraged not to move with his neck straight up like a giraffe. After a good warm up, he did just that. Stretched his neck long with his nose low. Poll even with his withers but neck slightly round as was his back. His tail stretched out behind him and completed the arc that his neck and back started. He even got a little hippity hop in his step. It was beautiful.
Under saddle i worked on J's homework. Posting with two bits up and one down...I've never done this before but wow does it take a lot of core control. I am also working on not using my inside rein to turn but pushing him into the outside rein with my seat. This is very hard for Cinny to comprehend right now as we have always relied on a lot of inside rein. We got it right a few times but I' not sure the little light bulb went off in his head yet. I'm sure he will eventually "get" that things are changing a bit.
I am worried that I will forget the things I have learned and frustrate my new and wonderful trainer/coach. We will see what happens. She has told me that I am to ride the little morgan again... he is a hard ride, but I know this horse will make me a much better rider and will make Cinny very easy to just sit and relax on in comparison!
I had a great ride today. I didn't feel like such a rag doll on the Morgan like I did last time and J says my legs looks a LOT better and Morgan is relaxing more because of it.I'm still having issues adapting a new style of rein aids but I'm sure I will eventually get switched over I just have to ingrain it into my brain and change my muscle memory...easily done ha ha...NOT.
It has been decided by my B/O that J can come train me at my stable on Cin. We have decided on once a month because I still need to concentrate mostly on me and it's better to do that on a good lesson horse that can show me how things are supposed to feel rather than on a semi green horse who has no clue what we are supposed to be doing and therefore, even if I do something correctly I still may not get the correct response. We are shooting for the first lesson on Cinny to be in about 3 weeks and J is going to hop on for a bit too so she can see what Cinny's "buttons" are like.
Things are going really well, I'm so excited for next show season already!
I like the sound of 'J'! I'm glad that you do too. Good luck with your training & Cinny, I look forward to seeing your progress.
I'm so happy to read that you have seemed to find the right match for you and Cinny and agree, a steady good lesson horse that will help you work on yourself is one of the best things anyone can do with a horse that is still learning!
I have been keep up with your posts on Cinny and the problems that where happening and look forward to pictures and videos of you with this new person who is helping you both out!
So so so happy for you and Cinny!
I hope to get some videos of him on the lunge line. Maybe I'll put it up with an old video so we can see the difference. I think it's night and day....part of it may be a different way of setting up the side reins but I think a lot of it is that now that Cinny's back doesn't hurt when he uses it, he uses it more often. Today I really paid attention to what his hind end was doing and where he used to drag his back feet he actually picks them up several inches. I've also had to start putting his boots back on him because he is knicking his front heels with his rear toes. Very little head or tail movement, just a steady line through his back that periodically lengthens...kind of like a piece of elastic. Stretching then shortening, stretching then shortening. Almost like he is trying to find his "sweet spot."
Don't worry those of you who cringed at my last lunging video, the side reins are very LOOSE. Basically the surcingle is put on upside down so that the side rings fall just behind his shoulders and then the reins are applied loosely to those rings. He can stretch his head and neck straight forward and still have slack, he can raise his poll higher than his withers, he is just learning that it is more comfortable to keep it the same level. He can push his nose out way ahead of the vertical..almost horizontal with slight slack, he just chooses not to. It's a method J showed me that doesn't force any type of frame or head set, but yet makes it just more comfortable and easier to carry himself correctly instead of doing silly things like prance around with the head set of a llama.
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