beat the winter blues - share exercies! and general updates
so i'm back for a few at least. sorry i've been mia for so long. mid-oct in a freak accident my one horse w/severe back issues kicked out and broke my pinkie pretty severely which lead to a whole slew of issues from a full body rash allergic reaction to the pain meds, to mult er visits, and eventually a hand specialist, surgery, and external pins. good news is that it's finally back together and i can ride again.
that said....i wanted to share some winter exercises that i do with my students, as well as get ideas from all of you guys too. what do you guys do to beat the winter blues (for those of you where it's cold/icy/rainy this time of year). share away!!
something my dressage trainer had me working on that i love is a variation on the serpentine. do straight is canter, corners of the serpentine (the curved parts) are trot. then vice versa where you do straight is trot and corners are canter. it’s a great way to work on both straightness and bending as well as precision in your transition and accuracy in the timing of your gaits and movements. it’s a lot harder than it sounds and you’ll find each horse is different. some horses are better with cantering in the corners but harder to canter on the straight b/c they tend to favor one side for example. use the exercises to identify your horse’s weaknesses at each gait (you can do this and incorporate walk/trot variations, walk/canter variations and what not as well), and then make the horse work through their weakness.
for example if you have a horse that tends to throw their hips in at the canter to one side, make them canter the straight with a focus on riding straightness through the entire length of the serpentine, then downward transition to the trot for the corner as a way to rebalance your horse and prepare for a clean, straight canter transition out of the corner. as he gets better at that, then swtich to just bending and not leaning in the corners at the canter and focus on lengthenings and shortenings on the serpentines. a 3 loop serpentine would be long trot/canter corner/short trot/canter corner/long trot/canter final corner. alternate to do then short/long/short in the trot as well. there’s a lot of variations that makes this interesting. the other thing to do is use ground poles placed at the top of the arch of each corner and the middle of the straight of each serpentine and eventually work to an all canter with changes serpentine using the poles for lead cues.
finally, another fun exercise is jumping a course of ground poles. use just the ground poles to work on rhythm and eye, and learn to adjust and feel your distances even when there isn’t a physical fence there. it’s a great intro to more complicated stride work without the need for additional challenge of actual jumping.
annnd...(i know i said finally already but i just remembered this one - here’s a super challenging exercise that combines a lot of the above theory, from master trainer jim wofford:
gymnastics on the flat to improve flexability
Ouch! That sounds horrible! I"m glad you were cleared to ride. Just curious. How many minutes were you in the emergency room before you asked a doctor when you could ride again?
Those exercises sound very challenging. My ring is still too wet to go above a trot, but maybe I'll do it with walk/trot until we can ramp it up.
Glad you're back. Things have been downright grumpy on this forum lately. We need some fresh ideas floating around.
Ow! That does not sound fun CJ82Sky! Glad you're back in action though.
I like the transitions in the serpentine exercise! I'll have to try it with Zeus. We definitely can't do enough transitions. Need lots of work on those. What I've been doing lately, (that is very similar) is to do trot/canter/trot, and walk/canter/walk transitions on a circle, usually about 20m. As well as trot work in a 20m circle, spiraling in to a 10m and leg yielding out to the 20m again. It's harder then it seems! Especially the trot/canter/trot transitions for me and Zeus. We can do walk/canter just fine, but trot/canter is a completely different story, ha ha.
Gillian, this may not make any sense whatsoever, but for trot/canter, don't do squat. Just sit tall and think canter. That's one of those transitions, that if you overthink it, you're screwed!
^ No, it does make sense! Before I ask I'll give him some warning, half-halt, prepare him for the transition, ask, and he changes pace, but in a flat, fast, trot instead of picking up the canter. It's like, he gets all discombobulated, and then I get all thrown off, or the other way around. A vicious cycle. Ha ha. But I do know what I need to work on, and after a few flubs, we do get it. It's more about our consistency, in all aspects of riding right now. Sometimes we get it, sometimes (it feels like) we're flailing all over, ha ha.
Our progress is slow, but we're turning a hunter (me) and a jumper (him) into a dressage team.
I was taught to perch and pose, and he can sure jump, but struggles with holding himself correctly and effectively.
Boy do I ramble!
Can you tell I only have a few horse friends in real life?
^^ me too. ladies. No real horsey friends here at school. Glad you're back in action- I'd be lost without my daily ride to de-stress. Transitions have been our real goal this winter. Working on making them smooth and trying to keep the old man moving forward from trot to walk. Oh AND we had our first ever bareback canter today- it was great!
that transition/serpentine exercise sounds really good, THANKS !! i will try that with my girl tomorrow at walk & trot, she tends to get on her forehand going from trot to walk.
its also hard to set up jumps & poles & things in the indoor because its so crowded most of the time =]
I tried the canter-trot serpentine transitions the other day. He actually did really well at it. I was pleasantly surprised. It did expose the whole stiff side/weak side thing that we have to tune up after each winter. We have a bit of work to do on our overall evenness.
as for the hand i didn't even go to the hosp til 24h later b/c i was like it's a pinkie. how bad can it be? so i did what any normal eventer would do. i went to my first aid kit and got a popsicle stick and some tape and called it a day. the next day i got up, did stalls, and when it turned black was like hmm....maybe i need a dr? okay after these last 3 stalls are done i'll go i guess. yeah.....and then i was still doing barn work anyway til the specialist did surgery and put in pins.
wanna know the magic words to keep a rider out of the barn?! gangrene. pow. no barn for me. since there was exposed metal (the pins were external drilled into the bone ew) it was a direct path for infection into the center of the bone....yeah that won.
here's some pics.
the next day about 30h later at the er...
yeah it turned totally black. later on it turned green. and the pins were CREEPY!
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