Saturday, April 16, 2011

Words Paint a Picture, but Video Shows the Story

Today, you all have a rare chance (although I plan to make on a more routine schedule) to watch as I work Milo. I had the bright idea asking why can't I video myself? I shouldn't have to have someone to video tape for me. So I set up my camera on the fence post rail of the outdoor arena, and after a warm up, turned it on. The angle is off, I'm sorry, and it started to rain, and lastly the battery died and shut itself off. Sadly because the last five minutes after it cuts off we were having the most beautiful lope departures and riding off the outside rein (I know, you probably think I'm saying that just because the camera so conveniently cut off the best part, but really it did!). 

I'd like to try and video more often because there are a lot of good and bad things I see here myself, and I'm sure you all can bring to light too. But it also is a good video documentation on how we are progressing, something that although words can provoke some imagery, they cant always perform as well as real video. Plus, I'm sure some of the terms can be cryptic without seeing it done, so it helps you follow along as I continue to post on how we are doing. I will say that I probably will not always post videos I take of myself, either if I'm too embarrassed for the world to see, or whatever. I know you probably think thats cheating of me to post what I feel are "the best" but I will try and make sure that I post those that show negative things, because recognizing those only helps to learn and grow as well.

So lets move onto the video, shall we? I will address what I like and don't like as we move through it, and please add something you might notice as well in the comments. I will describe in less than "poetic" or detailed then I normally do, because since the video shows what I am describing, instead, I can narrate on what is good/bad in the video. I will try my best to not defend whatever I see wrong, but simply state it and try and learn from it.

The video started after a roughly seven minute warm up, consisting of torso twists in long serpentines at the walk and trot. After Milo was feeling engaged, we moved into what you see below.

Right away on the circles, I am arcing and counter arcing in both directions. What I like, and would like you to note, at the 15-20 second mark, you'll notice he was engaging nicely from the rear. This dissipates as time progresses, mostly I'm sure because I start to loose focus on my hips. But then you'll also see the times when I remember to soften my back and neutralize my pelvis again, there are a few strides you will catch with some engagement.

Lets see, next I notice in myself that Im driving too much in my seat, and pounding a bit, not allowing Milo the light seat by which to come up under. This would be a great time for me to slow my breathing and find our rhythm together again. At 35 seconds, we change direction into an arc on the left circle. The first few steps are a great example, with Milo really emphasizing his curved body and reaching up underneath himself from the hind. You'll notice my hips (and torso most obviously) are quite turned to the inside, asking for his hip to move in the same direction.

I can already see myself in that first left circle cheating with my inside (left hand) rein. This is my dominant one (although as a writer I am right handed) and although I'm trying to ride off of my outside rein, my left one is raised higher, still exerting some feel there and I am still balancing off it it. This is a great thing for me to see myself that although I think I may be on the outside rein, my body is naturally trying to continue riding on the left. We will see this throughout the video, but there are a few moments where I stop and its obvious that Milo finds the outside rein as he should, without me inhibiting from the left rein.

At 52 seconds, I prepare to counter arc him onto the right circle, so I continue to hold my hips to the left, allowing him to continue driving his hips out that direction in the counter arc. The first initial steps are the best ones from that circle, and you'll see as I come about seventy-five percent through the circle, I bring my hips to center and Milo goes straight, then I turn them in (to the right) and prepare to counter arc the left circle.

After pointing out what you are seeing now, just watch the remaining two circles and find for yourself those best arcing and counter arcing strides, in tune with my hips. Because he was working so well I took him off the circle and stopped, then turned (on the inside pivot foot!) to prepare for a lope departure. Here, I notice in myself that I curl my legs a bit a few times, and instead of opening up my hip angle as I should, I'm cheating my just turning my lower leg out, making it easier to curl the legs. Noteworthy for myself...

The remainder of the video is our loping work, and the efforts of trying to find my outside rein, and ride with my hips and not allow myself to lock up. The very first few strides you see in frame of our lope I think where the best, then I start to loose my hips a bit and battle back for them throughout. I also noticed that in the lope although I'm trying to stay on my seat-bones, I tilted my upper body forward a few degrees. This is something I remember doing when riding, but battling with it as well. Remember to fill in the hollow space of my lower back I think should help.

Lets see, as I lope around a bit you will notice some of the deeper spots in the arena. Poor Milo would probably be working more engaged if myself was working as well as I could be, and the uneven footing weren't so. But no arena is perfect. Just give Milo a little lenience for that.

Theres one moment at 2:55 you'll see I did torso twist out, to try and compensate for Milo's drifting shoulder. And by doing his he came back to straight for a few strides, proving it does work, when I perform it, and reminding me as Sarah told me on Wesley, to always ride the horse and always be adjusting ourselves for what our horse needs at the time.

I come around from another torso twist at 3:40, keeping my hips turned to the left to drive him into a counter canter arc, which if I do say so myself, was quite nice for Milo. The last few strides of it on the circle at 3:50 show the bend in his body. He fishtailed a little bit right after, but came back after I brought my hips to center again for the arcing circle.

Our stop at 4:20 was a little strung out, mostly, I believe, from poor timing for it on my part, but I do like that I kept my back soft and back him his face. The second stop afterwards at 4:44 was bad all on my part - tense back, hard hands, poor timing.

There were a few moments to follow where I ride too much on my hands, but at 5:48 you can see I realize this and drop my outside rein to try and find it, and try and get back in tune with my body (although my cheating left hand is still visible). You can see though that I have no problem finding my left, now outside, rein after we change directions, and the lead departure at 6:34 was not too bad.

One thing I want to add that I noticed throughout watching this (and was noticing when riding too, but trying to stop) was the inconsistency of my outside rein. If he isn't getting on it, I try and bump him with it. Totally wrong, and after doing it I always remember Sarah saying to me that he needs to build trust in that outside rein, its a steady contact and I don't get to bump with it. Now I just have to remember her voice before I do it, not after.

I only loped a little while longer after the video cut off, due to time constraints because I was riding on my lunch. He did well though, and we worked on our turnarounds, something I was hoping was caught on camera, but  no matter, we can try again.

I hope you enjoyed watching and reading this, and that it wasn't a total bore, and that you also don't think I'm riding terribly - but I suppose you can think that if you want to. Leave come feedback if you wish on my riding or Milo. I think I can handle it.


Story said...

Awesome post. I really admire how you can work through all of these exercises with just a bareback pad! Milo is looking really great. Video is a great tool as I am also currently discovering.

CedarCreek Performance said...

The lope is really coming along Nina. Milo is getting a lot lighter on his front end and really starting to come together over his back. I did see I think one lope transition where you placed his hip to the inside and qued for canter. Rather, kick that hip out and load the outside hind for a clean and easy departure. Think "walking turn on the forhand, hip out" then make the canter move with your hips and away you go :-)
I loved seeing this Nina. Can not wait for Friday. I hope Laurie comes too. Maybe share with her my FB message I sent regarding the "cold" at our barn....

Rising Rainbow said...

i think it's great you can look at yourself ride and see what you're doing. Many people can't. That's an important skill that will serve you well.