As I mentioned in the previous post, we’re in a bit of a show-light period now, where I’m mostly trying to get tuned up for finals and doing lessons that maximize our readiness. But obviously, much as I’d like to do 4 lessons a week, I have neither the budget nor the schedule to allow that. So we’re doing our usual lesson a week, and working another 3-4 days. I try to be good about giving Cally downtime, and she regularly gets Tuesdays and Thursdays off, and sometimes either Saturday or Sunday, depending on other plans and showing. But what are we doing on those days that aren’t lessons?
The other day, Holly posted a link to this piece, and it got me to thinking. What do you do on your own? I do generally have some kind of plan, and try to have some kind of routine for fitness work. Ideally, we do one lesson a week where we jump, and one ride out in the fields, to work on both fitness and her topline–I’m sure it can easily look like we’re just tootling around out there, and I’ll admit I do try to give her a little of that too, because it’s fun for both of us, and relaxing and mental downtime is important, too.
That leaves 2-3 other rides. How to spend them? I try to do one day of flatwork/dressage, either running through parts of tests, or something we’ve worked on in lessons, like spirals, or figure 8s, or lateral work. We tend to do a lot of lateral work, because it’s a weak point, as Cally tends to be rather tight through her back and stiffer to her left than her right. Sometimes it’s as simple as a little leg yield each way at the walk and we’re loosening up. A little leg yield at the canter really helps to get her back loosened up, so it gets used a lot during warmup, especially in the winter. Another exercise I really like that’s low impact and great for really hot days where I don’t want to do much that’s too hard on either of us, or when footing isn’t great, is something Carol had us doing in a dressage lesson once–walking squares, alternating a quarter turn on the forehand with a quarter turn on the haunches at each corner. Really helps get her hind end moving, and me thinking about how each of my aids is effecting how I’m asking her to move.
(Dressage Day is not Cally’s favorite.)
Usually as part of Dressage Day, I’ll do a little bit of no-stirrups time, but this week I did basically a whole day of that. Mostly because it was almost 90 in October and I didn’t want to do anything too stressful for her. So I stressed me. In the lead-up to some eq finals, I’ll probably be trying to do a little more of it.
More often the 3rd & 4th rides are more of a mix of flatwork and a basic, low jump exercise–I’ll work on a long approach to a single fence, or do something like what I did the other day, which was a pole and a small fence (2′) on a circle, so I could just canter them on a circle to work on pace and distance, or make a figure 8 to work on lead changes. Whenever possible, I like to try to cool out with a little walk, even if it’s just out the driveway, or a loop around an empty pasture.
Other than lesson days, it’s rare that I ride for more than half an hour. I’ll go a little longer if we’re out in the field specifically doing something for fitness, like our quasi-trot-sets, but Cally is 15, and at this point, is not making any huge advances in her training. We’re not trying to step up a level, other than maybe actually getting back in the 3′ eq next year, so we’re more working on maintaining what we have, reinforcing what we’re already doing right, and keeping her sound and happy with her job.