My first week of daily training with Chloe is in the books! While Leah has meshed into the program for a few months now, I officially moved to Corpus this past Monday. My brain is swimming in a wealth of newfound knowledge – literally. If every week is as fun and rewarding as this past one, then I am in for a real treat. So, with that being said, I decided to share with you my first week revelations at CEC Elite Training.
It’s really, really hot. Don’t get me wrong; I am accustomed to the Texas summer heat. However, what I am adjusting to is the humidity levels here in Corpus. I’m from the Hill Country, which is north of San Antonio and generally pretty mild when it comes to moisture in the air. It’s a totally different ball game down here. For the last 6 mornings, my iPhone alarm buzzed promptly at 5:30, even though my “body clock” insisted on waking me up at 4:30. Eye roll. I meandered to my closet, reached for the Kastel shirt I so happened to be coveting that day (I tried wearing a tank top with SPF 70 sunscreen; shoulders still turned cherry red. Bad idea, I repeat, bad idea), got dressed, and prompetly made my way to the kitchen where I fill my YETI cup to the brim with ice and an orange flavored Gatorade. I’m at the barn by 7:15, on Leah’s back by 8:00, and drenched in sweat by 9:00. Luckily, there is usually a nice breeze during my lesson time, which helps immensely. Mornings that are still? Take. Cover. I’ve really had to figure out a hydration routine that suits my needs. As soon as I am back in the barn after training, I’m slowly sipping on my Gatorade while I un-tack Leah. This helps bring my body temperature back down to reality, as well as replenishing the sugar and electrolytes that have absorbed into my shirt. Then I’m back on the 3-liters of water train. I have to drink that much or else I know I’d be in trouble. We’ve got a long summer ahead of us… I love you, Texas.
Leah, you are just so pretty. Love, your loyal human.
The outside rein is life. It is all that is right and pure in this world. Leah has the tendency to fake the rider out in the contact. She’ll feel like she’s in the correct spot, but she’s not pushing into the bit. Like I mentioned in my Instagram post, this is what Chloe has had me working on during our lessons. I basically have to learn how to re-ride Leah – hard to believe that Chloe is the first “real trainer” Leah and I have ever worked with on a daily basis! Leah is now working through her entire body, rather than being rigid and giving a false sense of connection. While she does need to be “light” in the hand, there needs to be a constant pressure, too. No sucking back and no getting behind my leg. The outside rein helps her stay round while the inside rein controls the bend. I have the tendency to dominate Leah’s contact with my inside hand; old habits die hard, so I am really focusing on even pressure on both reins. There are moments where everything comes together and it feels like I am riding on a cloud… and then I start overthinking. It is a cycle, I’ll tell you that! However, I know that with more time in the saddle, the concept will click, and I’ll be working on test movements before I know it. You have to master proper basics before the tricks, people!
If you don’t have the appropriate core strength, you’re participating in the wrong sport. Being almost 6 feet tall is great and all, but have you ever tried to control that thing while riding a suspension filled, impulsion out the window, 16.3 hand Warmblood? It’s hard! But, a good, challenging hard, if that makes sense. Each lesson, Chloe constantly reminds me to stretch my lanky body up, ensuring I don’t collapse in my core at any time during my ride. I’ve found that the taller I sit, the lighter I become in my seat, which in return, gives Leah more opportunities to come underneath herself. I’m learning how to “fluff” her stride with my lower leg while not driving with my seat, especially at the canter. Thanks to Chloe’s superior knowledge, I’ve also found that if I open up my knee just a hair, Leah really relaxes through her body. Which, this all comes back to core strength. Every part of our body has to work independently from each other. Our hands have to hold their own and not rely on the horse’s mouth for balance, our core muscles support our back, which gives our hip flexors the opportunity to move with the natural gait, and a relaxed leg works on its own to aid the horse to keep going, while the thigh stays loose and not gripped to the saddle. So basically, dressage is like rubbing your stomach while patting your head, chewing gum, texting, skipping, and humming all at one time, but trying to look like you’re just sitting there, flawless. You follow me? I do feel like I made great strides in only a handful of days with keeping my body stretching up, though. Consistency is necessary in order for your muscles to retain their memory.
I love her suspension. It is so fun to ride!
Looking professional is important. I’ve noticed one major similarity in all of Chloe’s students and my barn mates. Aside from their love for horses and eagerness to learn, each client arrives to the barn looking polished and tailored. I’ve yet to see a shirt un-tucked or a hair out of place on anyone that comes through entrance. You can imagine my level of content when I see this as a self-proclaimed dressage fashionista, but it goes so much deeper than style. Everyone who trains at CEC Elite Training has an appreciation for professionalism. We each take great pride in representing our barn, and trainer, to the best of our ability. Maintaining that image through our riding and our outfit choices is something we take seriously. The level of pure sportsmanship is another thing I’ve noticed here. The amount of positivity in our barn is overwhelming. Each person is rooting for everyone, genuinely. We all want to have fun while seeing each other succeed with their respective equine partners. This barn family is a blessing.
Over the next month, Leah and I will be working towards riding with international dressage competitor, Kathleen Keller, the first weekend in July. To say that I am excited about this clinic is an understatement. I cannot wait to have the privilege to train with Kathleen for three days, while watching her bring out the best in other horse/rider combinations. I’m sure you can imagine that I’ve already planned all of my outfits, too… I have no shame in my game. The weekend will be full of educational fun – I’ll be writing all about it!
In conclusion, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to just how cool my barn is.
That is all.