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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Teaching Flying changes- bane of my existance

I had a great lesson last night. Unfortunately it confirmed my suspicions that flying lead change training problems are my fault... I had that moment when I took my finger and point it back at myself.
I struggled during our last lesson with the teaching of changes. Honestly, I think part of me if just not confident in my abilities as a rider. It is almost like I try to hard and end up blocking the horse and making a real mess, a cross-firing mess of frustration. I have only been able to get one clean change once in a while from each horse and it is when I don't over-think things; "hmm this feel like a great canter, lets ask for a change quick and bam its clean." Now when I prepare, I am going to do a change in this next cross of center line; disaster!

I asked Ryan to hop on Zion last night and try himself. His first couple of attempts were not successful, however Ryan got after ZZ and proceeded to get 4 clean changes out of him (thus my finger pointing at myself!). I am admitting my defeat, and come July ZZ will enter Uncle Ryan's Flying Lead change camp for 1 month. I am hoping that this will get us over the hump.

Gram is a true mare, if she wants to do something for you she will... if she doesn't you will know it quickly. I just have to be patient with her and wait until we find a way that we can both communicate the change. After her rough start this year, she isn't yet strong enough so I am giving the changes a break with her for a while. We did get the chance to show Ryan our working canter pirouettes. I need to focus on not asking for too much haunches and those will be real pirouettes soon. She will also build that strength back up behind, so hopefully that changes come better. I was a little disappointed in her during our lesson. After being fantastic Thursday- Saturday, she got Sunday off. We really got into an argument about the half halt on Monday and the results showed on Tuesday. She was tired and not as willing as she had been last week.

Both horses will have today off, but then get two solid training session in Thursday and Friday. I am hopeful that our next lesson will show that we did our homework. I am hoping to get some updated pictures and videos up shortly.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Flying Changes

After a rough start horse-wise to 2013, we are finally up and working again. Gram had a few health problems this year, diagnosed with Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSSM), horrible case of hive because I changed to a cheaper bedding, and then colic after spring vaccinations that led to an overnight stay at Kendall Road Equine Hopsital (down the road thankfully, and no surgery needed!) Zion has decided he wants to be a grown up when under saddle in the ring now. He actually goes much better in the double, but we are only riding in it once per week. Due to Gram being off, I have taken most of my lessons on just ZZ. He is getting so fun to ride! He is working canter pirouettes, a pro at trot and canter half-passes and getting strong enough to maintain the BIG BOY fancy trot for longer periods of time. The only problem seems to be me in teaching the flying changes. I apparently suck at teaching them. I had the same problem with Willy, but once we got them, we rarely had mistakes in the changes and relied on getting major points for his straightness and balance in them! I always blamed Willy, but apparently I should point the finger right back to myself! Both Zion and Gram (and I) are struggling with flying changes for different reasons, but the same rider issue. I apparently have been trying to fling my body into them too much and I have been asking, and if it doesn't happen I keep asking... duh. Seems simple right? I have found that like most things dressage related as much as a lesson helps you it also makes you see yourself as truly stupid. With so many things to concentrate on sometimes it is the most obvious that is plaguing you. In my case, throwing my body, and continuing to ride like a drunken rodeo clown until I get some sort of change (late behind) or a full out break and pick up the correct lead.

Now onto the specifics:  

Gram: I can get an ok change from left to right, I thought they were clean, but Ryan informed me she is still late behind... Of course I am too busy riding like the above stated drunken rodeo clown to notice such a thing! From right to left, it is a COMPLETE Disaster! So back to basics and we will be schooling the heck out of canter walk canter new lead exercises.

The main issue with ZZ is his tendency to get lazy behind. I have been able to get a pretty good canter on the spot, but he still needs more engagement from behind. Basically,I need him to grunt more and feel the burn in his hind end. (side note, he is very much like a mare when it comes to working hard, he grunts and moans without the attitude- pretty funny actually). For my practice with him, I have got to really wake up that hind end and go across the diagonal instead of the serpentine loops. Also need to upgrade my spurs, because he was just completely ignoring me.  

Me: No throwing my body into the changes. Ask, if it doesn't happen re-collect and ask again (no more drunken rodeo clown riding). Ask and get out of way so as not to block them.

Hopefully, we will be better for our next lessons in two weeks!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Back in the saddle

It sure has been a long time! After a difficult pregnancy and child birth, followed by health problems, I am finally back in the saddle and back to work. I am thankful to have a wonderful trainer, Ryan Yap, that kept my horses in training all summer while I was unable to get my giant belly up on a horse. He got both of them starting in the double bridle! I also had help from a new friend, Iga. Without the two of them, my horses would have turned into giant lawn ornaments this summer.
I am back to riding, and really working on getting my feel back. I had a couple of Ryan lessons to try to get my body back into shape this is a lot more difficult than I expected! My first lesson only lasted about 10 minutes. I realized quickly how stretched out my muscles were and how ineffective I am in the saddle as a result. So Gram and Zion now have the "Julie frame" and then the more uphill "Ryan frame". I hate to admit it, but I am weak. I also started back to work this week. I really enjoyed my time with my son, but the whole not riding thing was killing me. I am excited to start a routine. This week I am focusing on getting back to my "real" job aka the one I get paid for, and I will try to start the balancing act of working, being a mom and riding my horses. Thinking about the many tasks is honestly making me wish for more hours in the day, or to strike it rich in the lotto :)! I wanted to re-start my blog with a reflection especially after reading a thread in a forum about dressage. So many people get hung up on classical/modern dressage. My thoughts on the subject are quite simple. Not every horse can be ridden the same way. I have had the pleasure of riding a school master and training on a horse under the tutelage of some fantastic trainers up to I-1. I will say both were very different rides. And now, with Gram and Zion, very different rides. Since Gram has been my project from just out of being broken by a western rider, she goes in a way that works for both of us. Every ride we work on our basics: nice clean transitions, suppleness, responsive to the aids. I consider her classically trained. Zion works on the same things. The difference is in the way I ride them. Zion needs a little chasing after as he is a typical gelding and gets lazy. Gram is a hot mare, ready for a fight. Zion would be thrilled if I just let go of the reins and he curled his neck in. An inexperienced rider would think that he was the perfect horse because of his ability to fake throughness. Gram won't give you an inch, you must ride every stride to help her balance. Anyways, this forum made a big deal about natural horsemanship, dressage, and western. My thoughts on the subject is really who cares! Ride in a way that works best for that horse and rider combination. I have many different schools of thought as far as dressage training goes. I have taken little bits from each person I have ridden with over the years. In my mind this makes me a well rounded horse person (although jumping over 3ft scares the life out of me!). My next rant is over trainers... Do your research a trainer that has done nothing, will not be able to accurately teach or train. Simply printing out business cards seems to be all it takes to be a trainer, which is what I blame for all of the stupid discussions I see in dressage forums and bad riding/training I see. I actually stumbled on a website for a local trainer that had zero accomplishments listed, but did have prices listed. I was in shock at how much someone who has never ridden over 3rd level can charge for "training". Seems like a rip off to me! Bottom line: stop taking lessons from people that are just a little better than you... train with the best person in your area! Then you will not get hung up on discussions about classical vs modern dressage and will instead learn to ride. Like it or not, showing is how you get accomplishments. Say what you will about what is wrong with dressage judging- you will actually learn something from showing. You might not always agree with what the judge saw and what you felt... but if you read your tests and the comments, you will have homework that will in the end give you a better understanding of dressage and how to make your horse work better and happier. I am going to stop typing and try to ride tonight :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Our relocation to the Country

Well the Franzen's moved into the country dream house! It needed a lot of work because it was vacant for about a year and a half. I am going to use the entry in order to explain why I haven't been posting to the blog... Here is a pic of the house when it was listed for sale a couple of years ago:

Here are some before and after shots...

Front of House BEFORE:

Front of House AFTER:

Pastures BEFORE:

Pastures Getting cleaned up:

Pastures AFTER:

Back of House Before:

Back of House AFTER:

Burn Pile(s):

Front of Barn BEFORE:

Front of Barn After:

Other Fun photos:

Stall Plates from Donnie:


Barn Cams with night vision:

Condo sized stalls:

I love living here!