Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Big Trot On Video

I wrote a memoir post a little while back about my experience learning to ride lengthenings and Harley's newly-offered big trot.  Just to sum it up, my riding education has not directly included lessons to ride a big trot beyond a First Level lengthening.  Fortunately, I have an amazing teacher who focuses entirely on the basics and my position and encourages me to be a thinking rider so that I might apply the skills that I learn to my love of dressage.  Combine this with my horse's generous nature and my belief that he can do just about anything, and you have a recipe for some exciting things to unfold.  When my husband offered to take photos and video at the beginning of June, I felt obligated to take advantage of the opportunity to "see" what Harley and I were doing when we accomplished his new, bold trot.  Video is an immensely helpful training tool.  This cannot be understated when one embarks on training a dressage horse and mostly solo.

I like the videos which I have posted below, because you can see Harley and I working toward the objective.  This is a snapshot of our training.  You will not see perfection in either of us.  This is about the third time that I have asked Harley to produce his big trot down the long side after a bit of canter to put his weight over his hind end, so the process of getting there is quite rusty.  When everything falls into place, Harley powers forward with longer strides and I just try to stay in the middle of our balance.  I am happy to report that the photo below reveals that what I thought I was feeling is exactly what Mr. Harley was doing.  Check out the elevation of the diagonal pair.  Please also notice that there is a slight loop in the rein.  Although I had to increase the rein pressure to show him that I wanted him to keep his weight off his shoulders before the big trot, once he finds his balance he pretty much does it himself.  The feeling is exhilarating!  This is one of those things that I was not sure that I would ever get to experience.  I am thankful for my generous horse.

Go Harley!

In the videos you will see that my priority at the beginning of each long side is to remind Harley to keep his weight back.  His head will be up, but this does not bother me.  When he finds his balance with the power to open up his stride, his frame "snaps into place" all on its own.  No fiddling, flexing, or driving necessary.  In fact, my legs are passive at this point.  He is supplying the power and I am just directing it and suggesting where it should go.  His personality is such that he loves anything where he really gets to push off with his hind end so he accepts the invitation.  You will also see this as he displays some bouncy shenanigans and a flying change or two.  You may also be able to see that we do not have great control of the power of the big trot at this point.  We have improved since the time of this video (early June), but the corners here are a bit precarious.  I especially dislike a couple strong inside hand pulls that I commit in the far corner of the ring, but if my memory serves me, it felt like we were about to careen into the fence!  You will also see a mega-half-halt before that same corner.  I needed Harley to curb his enthusiasm enough to acknowledge the turn ahead.  Harley's best efforts are the ones when he approaches the camera.  The last effort is conservative, but I wanted to end with a controlled corner.  In later rides, we got much better at maintaining balance and control after the big trot and practiced it across the short diagonal as well as the long side.

So for your viewing pleasure:
My 15.1 hand quarter horse big-trotting his little...scratch that...
...BIG heart out.  Enjoy!


Here we are going to the right.  Harley had lost most of his steam at this point, but he still offered a nice effort the second time around, so we ended with that.  His elevation in front was not as impressive, but his balance in the loading diagonal pair was very good to my eye and something to strive for in all his big gait efforts.

Loading phase even across the diagonal pair.

All four off the floor in trot!


12 comments:

  1. Nice videos - thanks for sharing! You guys are looking good - love his enthusiasm!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just adore him! It looks like he's really starting to get the idea of the "big trot". Horses much bigger wish they could cover so much ground.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Naw, look at him! That is a surprise coming from a little horse!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so glad that he was willing to reproduce it for the camera. :)

      Delete
  4. He really looks like he's getting the hang of it! Such an awesome feeling when they figure out they can power up WITHIN a gait, rather than just switching up to the next fastest gait. When my Paint finally figured it out, he kept offering it to me... "How about here, mom? Here? Over here? Now?" and then he'd throw in a few steps just 'cause he could! SO much fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so adorable. Horses are such interesting creatures. I have admired your talented Cash on your blog. You and he are an inspiration to Harley and I!

      Delete
  5. I love how you patiently brought him back when he offered the canter. There were several beautiful bits, I think when he was coming toward the camera, as you mentioned. (That bunny hopping was too cute!)

    I love the big movement, but to me the best part is that you can see his mind working as well.

    You two make a wonderful team Val - thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. And I agree. I like watching horse and rider figure it out. :)

      Delete
  6. Harley looks wonderful! Love that you got it all on video. What a special guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Grey Horse Matters!

      Delete

Leave a comment or add to my memoirs with some of your own.