Saturday, January 29, 2011

Identifying Issues

It always seems to happen that you improve for the first half of the season you improve and then halfway through you start to hit issues. They can be caused by upgrading too much, loss of fitness from injury and time off, sourness for the job, the ground hardening up and jarring the horses and a zillion other niggly little issues. Christmas/ New years is always bad because your horses get too much time off without you even realising it.

So Connie was jarred up earlier and Kate had the badly sprained fetlock and these two injuries are the cause of the issues I'm now having. I did a basic exercise with Connie the other day- trot poles to a trot fence, then canter down the short 5 stride distance in 6 strides. This showed up a glaring problem that I have with Connie. she struggles to collect. She is a big long mare and this is an issue she will always have so I have to stay on top of it. I have rather let it slip. With the time off while she was jarred up and then just not really getting focused on this issue Connie hasn't regained the strength she had earlier in the season, because she could do this exercise comfortably during the winter clinics. Still it's nice to know exactly what I need to do now. And thats lots of work on collection. So lots of extending the canter and slowing it back down, along with slowing my canter as much as possible before my downward transitions, just to practice the collection.

Kate feels sound but she is still niggly from the sprained fetlock, and it wasn't until today that I really hit on the root issue. Along with that and then being a bit locked up in her back in front of her pelvis, she has really lost the ability to work across herself. Funny how both of them have such basic issues that I haven't really locked onto until now. I found today when I ask her to move off of my leg and step under herself behind and round up she gives me one stride and softens, but if I ask for more than one crossed over step she is pinning her ears and moving back into my leg. So yes it's hard for her and she is clearly tight and weak after being out for 4 weeks. Still we worked on this, spending probably half an hour in the walk really getting her moving away from my leg, yielding her body, and crossing her hind legs under herself. The quality of her work really improved, her walk really freed up and she started to feel more connected across her whole back.

When I moved up to the trot and canter she was ok to the left, but weak to the right when she had to drive her injured leg under. Lots of spiralling in and out circles at the trot and in the canter, lots of straight lines to a circle and then straight again. The circle helps her re-balance and going straight then trains her to stay balanced and maintain her canter. To the left she wants to throw me off the inside diagonal by cantering and in the canter wen she gets unbalanced she changes out behind which is exactly what she did when she was weak and coming into work at the start of the season. This is going to be hard for Kate and it isn't going to thrill her, but I need to work through this issue and make her strong again. Part of being an athlete is unfortunately working through weakness which is hard, and she is going to be sore, but providing I'm careful to warm her up well with lots of bending, stretching and lateral work and then to cool her down and keep the work varied, we should be ok. Kate gets worried by being unbalanced and to keep her relaxed and happy I have to really concentrate on keeping her balanced and very very straight- as soon as she falls out her shoulder I lose the quality of the canter and the relaxation.

so two very basic things to work on, which should cause dramatic improvements to the way my horses work and compete, but both that are going to require time, and dedication and a lot of focus.

No comments:

Post a Comment