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How to answer "what have you been working on?"

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  • How to answer "what have you been working on?"

    I have a friend who is the type who requires specific exercises to work her horses on, and she regularly asks me "What did you work on today?" Non-dressage friends ask similar questions.

    I have no idea how to answer in a way which seems to satisfy them.

    I work on improving his balance and strength all the time. Beyond that, I do whatever he needs that day. Sometimes that means he's gravitating toward too much tension in attempts to collect and I only do working gaits and stretchy gaits. Sometimes that means I do a lot of lateral work, or many transitions. But I don't try to teach exercises or teach movements - I try to teach balance and carriage. The fact we're getting good half passes now isn't because I'm working on them - but because they are part of the playing I do asking him to be adjustable and do what I want while carrying himself, therefore they are simply there.

    Has anyone figured out how to explain? And not in a snotty manner - it's someone who is legitimately interested and asking, no condescension or snottiness from the questioner.
    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
    -meupatdoes

  • #2
    I would just list some specific exercises you touched on.

    "Well, today we worked on bigger steps/smaller steps on a 20m circle, and also simple changes on the longside."
    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
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    • #3
      Why don't you just say that ^^^ ?(your OP)

      And explain the specific exercices you did to achieve your goal that day.

      Ex. I worked on suppleness of my canter/walk transitions, half halts during canter and self carriage. I went around the ring, doing transitions every 7 canter/walk steps. I then challenged myself with alterning canter-walk-counter canter transitions. It will build up the strengh, straightness and suppleness I need for the flying changes and eventually doing the tempis.
      (Does that sound snotty? That is what I did today)

      And you can leave some details out of the conversation if you feel the person you are talking too is not advanced enough to understand ir if you don't have much time to fully explain in details whatever you did.

      If they are truly interrested in your personal training schedule/goal/pattern, warn them it can take a whole afternoon!
      Last edited by alibi_18; Nov. 21, 2012, 05:09 PM. Reason: typo typo typo...
      ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

      Originally posted by LauraKY
      I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
      HORSING mobile training app

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        I don't tend to "do exercises." I alternate between working and collected as he needs either balance or forward, I ask for shoulder in when I want to get his inside hind coming under him more, if he's trying to lay on a leg I will ask him to leg yield off it, for more power I ask for haunches in.

        They aren't exercises - they are paying attention to my horse and responding by asking him to do something which helps his balance and use of his body in each instances to help him improve. In any one ride I am likely doing all of the above, and the only set thing I do is that I am trying to add in trot and canter sets to rebuild some of the fitness he lost while I was recovering from an injury - but my rides are most definitely not about trot or canter sets.

        I used specific exercises more before we were doing collected work, but now counting strides and ignoring what he feels like and what needs improvement isn't the most productive thing I could do. I will set a marker in my mind of "do this transition at this point" to ensure I still have the timing to do what I want when and where I want for the sake of test riding, but I don't do any set exercises of any sort most rides.
        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
        -meupatdoes

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        • #5
          Well, maybe you are just too good?


          As for being snotty, you're quite good too. Thanks.



          ETA: For your information, one don't need to stop riding while doing an 'cough cough' exercice... You are actually supposed to keep doing what is needed like a little shoulder in, half pass, ask for more forward/collection, half halts...you know...basic riding. And do the exercices as well.
          ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

          Originally posted by LauraKY
          I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
          HORSING mobile training app

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Huh?

            Nothing about my post was meant to sound snotty. I was explaining what I do, and why giving specific exercises as an answer doesn't work, since I don't tend to do explicit exercises. But nice snottiness in your post...

            Saying "I worked on balance, spent some time in collection and some time in working gaits, some time doing lateral work and some not, and did lots of transitions" isn't answer enough for the friend who asks most often, especially since it's the answer pretty much every day other than the "today he was a brat so we worked on obedience the whole ride" and the "he was losing forward, so we worked on forward" type of rides.
            If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
            -meupatdoes

            Comment


            • #7
              I work every day on basic way of going. Like you I do whatever it takes that day to make the basic way of going as high a quality as I can. If you friend needs exercises in order to work her horse I'd suggest she's quite novicey and doesn't yet have enough feel to fully understand what the exercises are designed to achieve. Nothing wrong with that. Kudos to her for asking questions and (I think) trying to improve.

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              • #8
                This is actually a helpful thread, because my trainer asked me the other day what we worked on since the last lesson, and I was a little lost for words. I haven't had my horse for very long, so I'm still not really used to schooling on my own and often am not sure what to "work on", so I just try to recreate the awesome feeling I get when something clicks in a lesson. But that's not a very descriptive way to tell my trainer I'm glad she did ask though, because it's making me think more about what we do actually accomplish in a solo ride. I can identify with the need to practice specific exercises as a way to measure success when schooling alone- it's really hard to know what to do outside a lesson sometimes if you aren't used to it.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by YEG View Post
                  This is actually a helpful thread, because my trainer asked me the other day what we worked on since the last lesson, and I was a little lost for words. I haven't had my horse for very long, so I'm still not really used to schooling on my own and often am not sure what to "work on", so I just try to recreate the awesome feeling I get when something clicks in a lesson. But that's not a very descriptive way to tell my trainer I'm glad she did ask though, because it's making me think more about what we do actually accomplish in a solo ride. I can identify with the need to practice specific exercises as a way to measure success when schooling alone- it's really hard to know what to do outside a lesson sometimes if you aren't used to it.
                  In my case, at the point we have reached I do not have the mental library of exercises to do ones which meet our current needs. I'm not opposed to exercises, but don't tend to have any which come to mind in most cases which are useful vs what I wrote above of what I do. I have plenty of exercises for tension or naughtiness out of need, and use those when required, but otherwise I'm not at a point where I usually have ones to help me. My trainer teaches me some in lessons and when she has me working one which helps a specific problem I'll work that between lessons, or clinics sometimes leave me with exercises, too.
                  My trainer and I talk about working on getting more jump in his canter, getting him to flipping STOP leaning on my right leg! (yes, this has been a recent frustration), or I'll tell her about how he's feeling, where his straightness is, how he has been in contact, etc., so we speak the same language as far as what I've done. I think if I started telling her exercises I had been working on she would think I had grown three heads - while she has clients who do, it's not how the two of us communicate. But I think you have to build that relationship both with your horse and your trainer. My trainer has learned that I really like to be given homework - and especially when trying to improve the counter canter since my horse just wanted to change a lot of that homework included exercises; it doesn't always, though, and just depends on the week.
                  If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                  -meupatdoes

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Her asking (your friend) is probably actually rather helpful for you because it gets you thinking about what you did do.

                    I know I used to 'just ride'... that is to say it's not that I didn't do exercises or work on things but most of what I worked on was hard for me to describe because I simply hadn't been asked to do it before. I'd followed directions in lessons, sure... and I could sort of parrot some of that back, but it wasn't till some riding classes with an awesome dressage instructor at my college that I actually started learning how to articulate it and thus analyze what I was doing and what was helping and why. (lots of ands!) We had to write journals after every ride describing our ride, what we worked on, what the horse's reactions were, what problems we had etc... Doing this made me really start to actively think about what I was doing rather than just feeling and responding. It has since really helped when I ride various horses and encounter 'problems'.

                    That said, maybe writing a journal about it would help. Maybe on days of 'he was being a brat so we worked on obedience' what specifically did you do? What helped him? What didn't? Do you think these things would help any other horses you ride? Why/why not?

                    Sounding a bit essay question there, but it actually is pretty cool when you start breaking it down. You realize that you ARE doing 'exercises' just not preconceived ones. A good trainer/rider knows that coming to the riding school with a preset plan is just a recipe for disaster, hehe. You need to be malleable to what your horse needs BUT that doesn't mean you aren't doing exercises.
                    A lot of this way of thinking is useful if you ever want to teach or train for other people. Though as we see it's also useful when you have people asking questions about your riding.

                    I've now gotten to the point where I get excited after every ride and want to tell people about every little epiphany I had, even non-horse people who don't really understand the nuances, hehe. I'm actually going to be starting a blog myself just to keep up the journal writing habit... and, you know, share horsegeek moments to any of my friends/family that care.

                    Annnnd rambly post!

                    ETA: Same instructor asked us a lot of questions when we rode too to help us articulate our riding/training. I have since used this in my own teaching.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Really interesting post, and not rambly at all to me!

                      I think I could describe my rides in that way, and actually I want to start doing more to describe, particularly as I get my new filly going in the next year. I know when I ride my mom's horse and really have to focus on keeping my legs back to improve her trot as we do little more than changes of direction and size of circles at trot to get her softer in her body I find I get on my horse and instantly have a better position, and therefore he performs better. Journaling for the little things I don't necessarily connect could be extremely helpful when I look back at problems...

                      Easy examples:
                      One recent ride where he was super tense consisted of large numbers of halt/canter/halt transitions. He holds his tension in his topline and haunches and for him the key is getting him to use those muscles so he starts to relax them/ease the tension. Walk and trot when he's tense are both the danger zone, as the tension makes him suck back behind my leg, and leg then makes him go upward rather than forward. Canter halts made him have to sit and use his haunches so he couldn't just hold the tension as well as giving him the forward canter outlet for energy. We did some lead changes through the halt, some lateral work in canter, some mini pirouettes - but it was all about getting that tension out and energy in front of my legs.
                      The interesting side effect of that was once he had relaxed his body and was really mentally there I was walking and he started to try to suck back. I asked him for more energy and instead of rushing or tensing he really sat in the walk like I haven't felt from him. Good idea to journal and remember that - thinking about it I remember the feeling of the walk which was balanced and in front of my leg and that it seemed as if piaffe was waiting to come out.
                      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                      -meupatdoes

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        whenever folks ask me what we are working on i usually answer "the basics forward/rhythm /suppleness/roundness of circles and response to the aids"

                        that about covers it all

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Survival comes to mind some days.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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