Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lesson with Jennifer Roth (yay) again.

Can a one hour clinic lesson teach you enough to make it worth it? Does the knowledge learned in such a short time transfer into skills? The answer is yes, at least in my case. In June I was fortunate to have a lesson with Jennifer Roth, and you can read all about it HERE.. I learned a lot, and felt as though I was given the key to the secret dressage vault. (lose and relaxed is the way) The question lingered whether I could take that knowledge and build on it. Two months ago I moved Pippi for convenience sake, and I no longer have a Trainer to keep an eye on things. But I kept in mind all the things Jennifer Roth told me, and tried hard to relax, drape my legs, and still my hands. I was pretty sure I was improving, and Pippi and I were enjoying our rides.
Last weekend Jennifer Roth came to our new boarding facility to give a one day clinic, and I was more eager than a kid on her birthday. This was the test, would Jen think that we had improved and had we taken her knowledge and turned it into true skill? I was not nervous to find out, because Jennifer is very kind, but I was excited to see whether we were on the right path. And I was excited to learn more!
Buck n' Roll

We started our ride at the walk. Jen likes to watch the warm up and asks that you do what you normally do. So we walked on a lose rein for a bit, before shortening the reins and then we started our trot work. As we started our trot Jennifer explained the difference between contact and connection. She said: “A lot of people will use contact and connection interchangeably, but they are different. They are the same kind of idea, but they are a different meaning. Contact is what we take on the horses face, what we all learn to do in the beginning. Connection is what the horse takes on us. So it’s the energy that they are pushing from the hind legs, pushing out to the bridle, and taking a feel of the bit. We want her (Pippi) to connect. We want her to make a connection from the hind legs to the bit, not just you taking contact and pulling backwards.”  As I was riding and listening my mind tripped over itself, and I was very happy knowing that my daughter was recording every word. I knew that those sentences were key to the next step for Pippi and I. (And quite frankly I was super excited that right off the bat we seemed to be building on the lesson we had in June, rather than work on the same things.)
As I trotted around Jennifer zeroed in on another homework item; Tempo. Pippi and I do have varying speeds, and I must learn to keep my horse going at the same tempo. I was told that I should not have to work hard to make her go, and to use my whip if needed since I bothered to carry it. I should also bother Pippi enough with it to get a reaction. (Pippi knows I am a giant softy and is quite oblivious to my little tickles) The trot Jennifer was looking for was a bit faster than I expected, but one that Pippi seemed happier to keep going. Next was keep that bit moving, make the horse chew and drool. It’s not a matter of sawing the bit back and forth, just a flutter of the fingers to keep it sliding a bit which will encourage connection, but discourage the horse from leaning on the bit. There were moments at this point that felt so light and forward that I wanted to exclaim “Holy Guacamole, you guys should feel this!” I was that excited! I am pretty sure that Jennifer has in fact ridden lots of horses that were easy flowing like that, but for me this was a first. I liked it, a lot, and now that I know what we are going for we will work towards that being the feel for all rides.
After trotting in both directions working on these things and a few adjustments to my seat, Jennifer said I could canter when ready. I immediately said “Great, see you next month.” Our canter has actually improved a lot in that we have a true canter, and I can sit the damned thing. I still struggle with keeping it going, as my unbalanced seat has taught Pippi that a circle or so was fine before dropping to a trot. After watching that mess for a bit, Jennifer said “use your inside leg to keep her going.” It never ceases to amaze me the things I don’t know! When I would feel a drop I would ask again with the outside leg, and it was not working, but the moment I used the inside leg as instructed we just kept going. We kept going, and going, and it was easy. It’s amazing how easy things are when you do things right. We cantered long enough that we could work on body positioning and weight placement, and hands and everything. After doing that in both directions and finding out that I lean in when in right lead canter, we took a walk break. Jennifer went over all that we had just covered, which is so handy, and asked if I had any questions.
 We then started the trot again, and Jennifer said she thought I would get a canter easier now. Pippi was giving me some Pippi’tude (shaking her head a bit, and grabbing bit) and I knew that Jennifer was right and answered “Oh, I think I will” before asking for the left lead canter. I asked, she ignored, I asked with whip and she showed me she was ready to “buck n roll.” But we cantered off, and I had to laugh. It was not at all a danger move, just Pippi saying that after walking we are done! The rest of the lesson was great as we made some more progress on sitting and leaning back in the canter. Don’t ask with your legs to canter, but ask for a halt with your hands. “Don’t apply both the brake and the gas at the same time.”

This was only my second lesson with Jennifer Roth, but I take away so much that we can grow with from each one. Hearing her say that she was very happy with our improvement made me beam, and when she declared she hoped that we compete next spring I was just ecstatic. High praise indeed. I feel very fortunate to have access to such positive lessons, (and the best horse ever) and we will work very hard to get ready for the next one. There is so much I do not know, and I just love that! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ecogold featuring Pippi! (video)

Ecogold - who by the way has the best pads and boots on the market - made a new video making us think about all that horses do for us. Pippi is featured in it, which is super fun!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Guest blog - Searching for breeches?

In Search of a Pair of Breeches? Check out the Romfh International Fullseat Breech!

I don't know if this happens to everyone else, but all my horse stuff seems to wear out at once. This year, my breeches all died so I went on a mission to find another pair. To be honest, this is a chore for me. I am very picky about my breeches.  When I find a pair and brand I like I will stick with them and not consider trying something else. However, I realized this year my preferred brand was no longer holding up to daily barn activities. For example, I get holes in the knees in a couple months. I decided that I wanted to try a new brand.As a university student, price is a concern. I want quality, but I don't want to spend 2-300$ on a pair of breeches. I also want material that is durable, washes well and can hide dirt (every time I brush a horse I seem to get covered in it!) 

Romfh clothing has been on my radar for a few months now. 
I have been envying their Sarafina white full seat breeches for shows. This breech style was a bit out of my price range for everyday breeches, so I decided to see what other styles of breeches Romfh had.  In the end, I felt that the Romfh International Fullseat breeches would be a good choice for me. This breech, at $140 US, was a more affordable price for me. The material was also advertised as cool in the summer and very durable. Reviews I had read stated that these breeches hardly ever looked dirty and came clean very easily. From pictures, I also loved the style of the international breeches (the thickness of the belt loops, the pockets, and the romfh logo locations really drew me in). There was also a wide range of colours to choose from (mocha, dove grey, black, white, beige, sesame, and dark pearl).

After careful deliberation, I decided to order a pair. As I am in Canada, I had to wait about a month and a half to receive my package. Although, a very long wait, it was definitely worth it! I love the material. It is thin enough to be cool on hot days, but thick enough that it doesn't show "everything" (you know like pesky underwear lines or the colour of your undies J). The mocha colour I ordered also hides the dirt very well and I find the colour and fit of the breeches to be very slimming.
My only complaint is that this style of breech does fit a bit tight. I would recommend buying a size larger than you normally wear. The material is very stretchy and forgiving, so after a few days of wear they have stretched and are more comfortable around the waist (of course I realize I could have avoided this mishap by trying a pair on but Romfh is not easily found in Canadian tack stores yet, and I am at least an hour from any tack shops).

Overall, I am definitely pleased with my purchase. So pleased in fact, I have another pair of Romfh breeches on the way. This time I am trying the champion style as I fell in love with the anthracite colour!

If you are looking for a quality breech with a reasonable price tag, I suggest you check out Romfh ( I bet you will become a Romfh groupie too!

Thank you Samantha for that review. Always good to know what things fit like before taking the plunge. The Dressage Connection carries Romfh and you can find them here! They have just about everything you will ever need for your horse with superb (and quick) customer service. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hot? Me too, but this helped!

Wow - time flies huh? I dont even know where to start, so I will just continue on as though there was no break.

Pippi and I have been training hard, riding 3-4 days per week, and finding that canter. I realized that I was asking too hard for the transition, and when I asked softer so was her response. (I know, DUH!)

We had a chance to go ride with Jen Roth in Columbus for a private lesson, and it was awesome. After all our great work with my Trainer at home, we were finally ready to step it up. One hour that changed our entire lives for the better. Relax those legs, stop holding and worrying and let those legs swing. That is a huge relief for someone with longer legs than horse, and I more than willing to do less. Especially when less turns out to be so much more! NO HEELS DOWN? Hell yeah! Everything changed and Pippi was forward and soft, and I was so happy. We have been able to keep this new seat going, and have our first lesson at home tonight to show Trainer what we learned. How lucky am I to have a trainer that is willing to listen to me?
letting the legs hang down!
I also wanted to tell you about some great products that I have found to help keep cool. Being someone that does no sweat well, I always have a hard time with heat. Its almost as though a Viking does not belong in humid Ohio. My Bestie sent me a cooling towel from Frogg Togg for my birthday, and I cant tell you how awesome it is! You just drape the wet towel around you neck, or wipe yourself off, and wow! You can buy one here.

I also got some Absorbine Botanicals for Pippi. The massage foam, which is much easier to deal with than regular liniment, and the cooling/liniment spray. I used the spray after my very long and hot lesson with Jen Roth, and Pippi loved it. She actually felt cooler to the touch. And she seemed to love it. They smell great too, much fresher than the regular liniment. Read more about them here!
Absorbine Botanicals- YES!
We do not have any big things coming up, but I sure hope to have more lessons with Jen. Having access to a great Grand Prix (and Gold medal) rider that is kind and a fun instructor is invaluable. Love her! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The BIG trip - Rolex and Riva!

I have not blogged on here for a while, but I have rather cool news. Worlds are about to collide: Kelly and I will meet after being online blogger pals for a couple years. You can read all about her riding here. I will get to meet Kelly and her husband. All that is super, but as a Horse Junkie I am super excited to meet her horse, Riva!! And Kelly asked me to bring riding apparel, because she expects me to take a turn on the mare. I could not be more excited.

Oh, and I get to go to Rolex! And meet all the Horse Junkies United bloggers at the Meet & Greet Friday at noon. Its at the Ecogold booth in the trade fair. Read all about it here. I'd love it if you stopped by and said hi, and there will be some to riders to meet as well. How cool is that?

If you are gong to Rolex and see me, please say "hi" and dont be shy ( I never am).