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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Flatwork Training Update - 11.11.19


Our first flatwork training session with Cathy since the start of September & our first one sat in our super lux new saddle... I was so excited & looking forward to it! Maybe that's where the problem started...

A message from the yard just after 2pm to let me know Louie had lost a front shoe. Great. I called the farrier who was struggling to get to us in time but could maybe have made it to the venue to knock one back on when we got there. On reflection, it seemed a bit pointless as Louie is due to shoeing the next night, and the flatwork was on a soft enough surface, so after a quick trot up on the yard concrete and seeing him not sore, I made the decision to go with three shoes.

I always like to arrive in good time, even when it's only training. I hate being in a rush and it also gives Louie a chance to have a munch on his haynet or on his alfa when we get there. Today was no different and we arrived about 30 minutes before our session. I hadn't yet realised but we turned up with someone completely unexpected & who never helps us complete a productive training session.


I tacked Louie up, got my boots on and changed my coat, then headed into the indoor arena to start our warm-up. Almost as soon as I started trotting, Cathy pointed out that my stirrup length could probably go down another hole. I'd noticed it the last time I rode and when Bonnie came to check the saddle, so I popped it down. I thought it would feel mega long again, but it didn't. It actually felt much more comfortable and enabled me to lengthen my leg much better.

We warmed up and Louie felt really great - loose and with plenty of swing to his movement. His rhythm also felt good, but Cathy pointed out it was a little too fast. It was at this point I should have spotted our unexpected visitor and asked them to leave...

As we went to our first trot-canter transition, Louie lifted his head and came against the contact. It's something I've struggled with since riding in my new saddle and have felt that it could be a result of some loss of balance on my part. Cathy asked me about it - my answer was 'It was terrible'. I still didn't spot it but the perfectionist persona of Sophie had joined our session.

Perfectionist Sophie has many perks, but not in the minute aspects of training, as she has no tolerance for any mistakes or less than perfect performance. And at this point, she was on-a-one!

Looking back I should have walked on a long rein, paused my thinking, regrouped and started again. It's the best and quickest way to get her to leave. Anyway, I didn't, and so spent the rest of the training session completely shut down to any kind of learning or being reasonable in giving feedback during the session. I literally went around that session thinking it was a heap of dog poop, & not at the criticism of Louie, but that "it" wasn't together (as in, my sh*t!). Honestly, every single step I internally pulled apart and said wasn't good enough. I was so fixed on the step before that there was just no way I was ever going to improve the upcoming one!

There was no need for any of this, and rather than explaining why I'm simply going to share with you the videos from the session... I watched these back about 9pm and was SHOCKED. I don't understand why I viewed this work as so bad. You'll see in the first video the trot-canter transition that I mentioned. Sure, it needs work, but was it worthy of the reaction I gave? No.

& if I don't understand my own reaction, there's no wonder Cathy and Andrew were left at the side completely perplexed by it!






Throughout the session, Cathy worked on trying to get me to loosen Louie's neck and be more in control with where it was carried, as well as leg yielding, bending and straightening, and creating more cadence in a slower rhythm but taking bigger steps with more lift.

Overall I didn't leave the session, feeling demotivated all the way home. I'm pleased Andrew was there to record a big portion of the session and reviewing things back, I have taken so much away from the progress we've made. I've also been able to listen to what Cathy is saying alongside seeing the "picture" of what's going on, and can make sense of it all.

I'll be putting some sessions in at home but I'm determined not to become fixated on anything that got in the way last night. Some sessions will be great and some won't be so good, but that's all part of the improvement curve...& perfectionist Sophie isn't permitted on that ride! ⛔️

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