Monday, January 9, 2017

A more effective warm-up & riding for better scores

The second day of the Alfredo clinic, we worked primarily on more shoulder in and renvers. But what stuck most in my mind about this lesson was what Alfredo had to say about warm-up.

At home, we usually take a short trail ride to the field where we do most of our work, so we have a 10+ minute walk warm-up. Then I do some trot and canter on a long rein, take a bit of a breather, and then consider us ready to get down to business.

Alfredo's suggestion was much different. Instead of doing long stretches at any one gait, he had us do perhaps a circle or a half circle of one thing, then a circle of walk, then pick the reins back up, do something else, walk, etc. Essentially it was a lot of very sort bits of bending and flexing, working lower and then asking for a few steps of collection, working lower, back to walk - just lots of gentle transitions, gentle flexing, and gentle laterals. I posted the trot the whole time to let his back warm up (I normally do a lot of posting so that wasn't new).

Longer rein at the beginning of the ride

Asking for him to come a bit more together

As the session went on, we asked for more sustained stretches of collection, more angle in the laterals, more bend, and a faster response off the leg. Again, Alfredo's method is very short stretches of good work, followed immediately by a walk/reward break when the horse does the exercise well the rider does the exercise correctly.

Flexion left with a bit more collection

Really asking that hind leg to come through

The trot near the end of the ride

I can certainly see the benefits of shorter chunks of work, especially with an older horse, but I do worry a little about building more fitness and also the horse expecting that he only has to work for short periods of time (ahem).

We did have one fantastically excellent spook when a pitchfork that was leaning against the side of the arena slid down the wall and onto the ground...

Thank goodness for saddles with ginormous thigh blocks! 

Another super interesting thing Alfredo said was about getting better scores on a movement. If your movement starts well, then the judge is likely to have in their heads a 6.5 or a 7. If you ride half of it well and then it falls apart, you might end up with a 6.5 or a 6, depending on where you started. BUT, if your movement starts off really badly, the judge might have in their heads a 5, and even if the second half of the movement is great, you're unlikely to score more than a 5.5 or a 6. So it's really important to set up the movement well and make that good first impression, even if it falls apart later. Easier said than done, of course!

Meh

Better

THAT's what you want to come out of the gate with!

20 comments:

  1. Glad you have a clinician you work so well with. :-) Taran is almost unrecognizable.

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    1. He's really changed so much in just a year!

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  2. You guys have totally transformed as a pair this year! Looking great, and I love his "RUN AWAYYYY!!" spook from the pitchfork. Too funny!

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    1. A more athletic horse makes for more athletic spooks. This is not a good thing.

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  3. That spook sequence is priceless. You look great through it though!

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  4. Ahhhhh I know I told you before but... Taran looks so good!!!! He should be taking our show spot in a month since Penn is not looking that good!

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    1. Haha we only have moments of awesome but we can't sustain it. An entire test is just beyond us right now!

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  5. wow he looks so different now! you are doing things right, I guess!

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    1. Something seems to be working for us, for sure!

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  6. I love learning more about the strategies behind test riding and scores and whatnot. Alfredo's tidbit about scores relative to how the movement starts and ends is really insightful!

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    1. It really is, I'd never thought of it that way before, but it makes sense and echos my own experiences scribing.

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  7. Dayummm, Taran! You guys are looking so good! Also that lateral strength is really making those spooks a solid 10 in my book. ;)

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    1. That spook was definitely a 10. I wonder if he maybe could be a cutting horse with that fabulous spin?

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  8. Great spook photos, & food for thought re: warm-up

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  9. I'm so impressed you stayed in the middle for that spook! Can I just say that even your "meh" looks great compared to where you guys started? You guys are looking so fabulous. Alfredo's thoughts on warm up do make a bit of sense, although I'm like you and more likely to do a few longer sets. I played with shorter sets of stuff with more walking in between this weekend though, and it did seem to make a difference. My guess is that, like with everything horses, there's a balance in there.

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    1. Yeah I think for us some shorter work with some longer sets is ok. We'll find a better balance, but it's an interesting perspective!

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  10. I Love the spook series of shots. Great seat!

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    1. Athletic horse is more athletic. Boo.

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