Monday, November 17, 2008

November Henrik Johansen Clinic

This past Thursday and Friday I rode with Heinrich Johansen again. I was able to ride three different horses this time. I would have had four, but with River Run flooding again, we weren't able to get out there for the clinic.

First things first, this clinic was one of the best I've been to and I was able to take many new theories and skills away from it. Usually if I can get one or two ideas I find it quite a success.

I started off with Cinzano, Wendy Hsue's 4 year old Swedish stallion prospect. First, Heinrich really like him and confirmed that I have him on the right track. Heinrich had me "run" the horse down the long side to get him forward and then once Cinzano was forward to then put the leg on. This will allow the horse to understand what the leg is meant for. Previously Cinzano was a slightly resistance to the leg and now Cinzano is riding off the leg better. The other thing Heinrich had me do was use a little more outside rein (just barely lifting the outside rein momentarily) then I had on previously ridden on circles and corners to keep the outside shoulder in line. The use of a little more outside rein actually played a big difference in the canter!

My second ride was on Deborah Hauk's Hanovarian gelding Nick. The first thing Heinrich introduced me was applying the "Gear System" to the horse. In another blog I'll explain this theory a little bit more. Once warmed up, Heinrich had me start Nick in a extremely collected walk. The pursposed being to get him collected up, but also to have Nick listen to the rhythm I was asking for from my seat. This was challenging for both of us, to hold this collection for long periods of time. From this walk, depending how collected I had it, I could put Nick into a turn on the haunches or piroutte extremely easy.

After we had that down, we moved up to the trot. Again, we held an extremely collected trot that if we had the power and strength could be a "schooling" passage. At moments Nick would come through and actually have some "baby" passage steps! From this extremely collected trot, I would take Nick into a true collected trot, back to the extremely collected trot, out to a medium/extention, back to extremely collected trot, etc. All of the changes within the gait was with my seat.

Once I understood what Heinrich wanted, I started getting some quality work and it felt fantastic. After the lesson, Deborah come up to me and said, "I've never understood why owner's have their trainers ride the horses in clinics and in shows. After watching you and Nick, I completely understand why!". She was so proud of her horse!

On Thursday I rode Joyce Morimoto's 14 year old Swedish gelding, Jumanji. This would be a good lesson for me as I've only ridden Jumanji once a week for the past two months after him coming off a 2 month lay off.

Like the Nick lesson, we applied the gear system to this ride as well. Again, things went really well. We also worked on some half pass schooling and Heinrich gave me a couple of clues on schooling the half pass to keep the forward movement while still maintaining the lateral direction. By taking the shoulder a little more forward at moments on the diagonal line I was eventually able to get a good bend around my inside leg and have the shoulders at a good angle.

Because of the flood at River Run we were unable to hold parts of the clinic there, which meant I couldn't clinic with Cindy Bucceri's gelding Claudius. It would have been nice to work with Claudius, but I am able to take a lot of what I learned over the two days and apply it to Claudius. The last three rides on Claudius have been our best yet where I have gotten Claudius to listen to me and then actually come through in the rhythm that I want. I now have greater confidence in the goals I have set with Claudius ( riding at the FEI level) next year.

I will be taking Cinzano to another farm on Thursday to clinic again with Heinrich which I'm looking forward to.

A big thank you to Wendy Hsue, Deborah Hauk, and Joyce Morimoto for allowing me to clinic their respective horses with Heinrich!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Logo Created

I finally got the logo for Emerald City Dressage created! I'll work on getting the website up and running over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Day I Took A Boat To Work

This past week we have received a fair amount of rain. A couple of days we received over an inch of rain each day.

One of the farms I work at, River Run Ranch, lies in the flood plain of the Snoqualmie River. On rains like this, the Snoqualmie will flood. The severity of the flood ranges from wet roadways to the barn being completely flooded out. The later is the 100 year flood range, which happened 3 years ago.

Yesterday, we had the roads underwater making it impossible to travel by car. Some sections of the road and parts of the farm were under 4-5 feet of water. Fortunately, the water did not rise that far to the farm. It only got within maybe 100m of the barn and arena and only partially flooded a couple of the pastures.

The owners of the farm have a small motor boat and used it to shuttle me and the other boarders to come in and ride.

It was slightly surreal to see how quickly the water comes up. When I left the farm midday on Friday, the river was rising close to the road, and now two days later, there is 4 feet of water. In situations like this, it's always a little humbling to know what mother nature can do and how quickly she can do it.

It was kind of fun to take the boat in and see everything. But, I am sure the next time this happens I won't find it so fun and more of an inconvenience.

The horses are fine and more out of sorts because they weren't turned out in their individual acre of pasture all day as they are accustomed to. Yes, they are spoiled.

Below are some pics and a short video of the flood.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Off-Season News Part I

Sorry for the long time between posts. I'm going to do a two part off-season blog update. The first part will detail what I've been up to and the second part will talk about what I'm going to be working on through the winter months for the 2009 season.

Since returning from Championships, I've been trying to keep things a little more "balanced" as I've been taking heat from many people for not having too exciting of a life. For those of you who have known me for awhile, you know that this can be hard for me to do sometimes. I really thrive on the pressure of the show season and now since I'm done I'm feeling a little empty. I'm still motivated each time I ride/teach and not having the immediate pressure on my shoulders is nice not to have.

The good news is, I have been making time to get out and see some friends (with still a lot more of you to see!). Without the pressure of the show season, I've been going out and coming home way too late. Fun times nonetheless.

I spent the past weekend in Boulder, catching up with old friends and former athletes. I had a great time and maybe had a little too epic of a night on Halloween. It really was a world wind trip for the 3 days. Each day I basically met different friends for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner, etc. I didn't realize it was so exhausting being social! I also swam Friday morning with my old masters swim group. I had only swam 2 times since I moved in May and those swims where only in the past two weeks. I didn't suffer anywhere near I thought I would, but definitely not in swim shape anymore.

After leaving Boulder, I had not realized how much of a page I have turned in terms of my life. Since moving 5 1/2 months ago, I haven't looked back and spending time back there made me realize that I am absolutely, positively happy with where I am at right now!

I'll try to get a post up in the next few days on how my horses are going and what the "rough" goals are for next year.