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2022 Lynn Palm Western Dressage Fund Grant Recipient: Kelli Wolf

October 10, 2022: Spent 10 minutes going over the requirements for a Level 2 test. Gail had a picture of Jacoby at a canter, showing the start of uphill. Worked on collected walk, having trouble giving a cue quick and then relaxing between cues. Worked on shoulder in, and hindquarters in on the rail both directions. Collected trot-I was too heavy handed, not driving forward off the hind in. Relaxed hands did better. Collected canter depart from trot, few strides then back to collected trot, both leads. 40 minutes-Jacoby tried hard, stopped on good jump uphill canter depart. I honestly, at this time cannot feel his hind end coming under like it needs to. Without Gail letting me know. Much to learn.

October 13, 2022: Warm up, tried new girth set up, converted from Western cinch to English girth, due to latigos rubbing on both sides. Jacoby didn't mind the switch, actually Gail thought he was moving more freely in the shoulders. I did collected walk, trot, and canter. Shoulders in both ways. I think I made a breakthrough on my riding, putting more weight in the stirrups and sitting lighter. Jacoby actually jumped into a canter for me! He got treated like a king for it!! Gail rode half the time. Worked with him on hind end both ways. He really did it well on the rail, confused him off the rail. She also cantered and did bending trot work. I worked on leg yields; one was very good going left!!

October 14-16, Frances Carbonnel Clinic: Friday Evening Lecture: Subject was equine skeletal, nerves and muscle-balance.

Saturday - Level 1 - Three riders in my group. Frances had me hold a small bouquet of plastic flowers in each hand to help me keep my hands in proper position. It worked, much steadier and equal distanced apart. Worked on balance - circles, around and through cones, abducting!! Heard that word a thousand times in three days!! Mostly walk trot on Saturday. Weather: 100 degrees during ride.

Sunday - No flowers, more abduction work, halts on center line. Loops at a trot and lope. I ask if we could work on canter departs. She had us do them at a walk coming out of a turn on the haunches both directions. She saw much improvement from Saturday and was pleased with our efforts. Weather: 100 degrees during ride.

Sunday – Test ride judged by Dolly Hannon: The following comments are transcribed from Dolly Hannon's text of her final comments on my ride.  "Very nice horse and very capable rider! We focused on her seat and sitting the jog more effectively to start to be able to collect her horse more and move up the levels. She wants to work on lateral work that needs a more uphill balance and engagement so her seat being deep and well balanced is essential to achieving this goal. She and her lovely horse were a pleasure to work with and were sponges in terms of absorbing the information and saw a real improvement during our clinic." 

Note: One week after the clinic we went to compete in the WDAA World Show. I feel the extra instruction on the canter departs and focus on the hands/overall balance definitely helped us win 6th overall Amateur Level 1 and World Champion Amateur Level 1 Freestyle.

October 22, 2022: Warm up. Go over test Level 1, work on bending and activity. Have five tests to do this week for online Nationals. Test 1 is finished in 45 minutes. Go over test 2. Lesson over and tests 1 & 2 are in the can!!

October 23, 2022: Warm up. Go over test 3, more cantering, lengthenings. Test 3, goes well, prepare for test 4. This test was my lowest score at the World Show, so I worked him a little on cantering. Test 4 went smoothly. Jacoby was done for today. We have four out of five tests in the can.

October 26, 2022: Warm-up. Learned new lateral exercise. Zigzag leg yields, off the centerline. Forward and back at the canter, plus releasing the inside rein at the canter, for a few strides in a circle.  Both exercises help prepare for the filming of the freestyle. Spot on with the music! Filmed it twice, to try to get more forward and back at the canter, didn't show any difference in the lengthening first go. The second had him more collected so the difference showed. Freestyle in the can.

November 2, 2022: Warm-up no stirrups to stretch and straighten legs. Gail rode a lot of transitions to begin working on Level 2 frame and carriage. I began riding and was able to recreate the same frame and carriage before Jacoby and I became too tired to continue.

November 8, 2022: Warm-up 15 minutes, no stirrups: walk, trot, canter, both lead for 45 minutes. Gail showed me how to lead with my sternum button! It worked to help my body posture, yet still be relaxed. Bending, suppleness, lighter quicker aids. Low impact, walk trot. New - changing bend while doing a shoulder in. Keeping the haunches, marching on same line. We did it after a demo from Gail. Stopped on a good go.

November 9, 2022: Warm-up for 15 minutes, no stirrups. Walk, trot, canter. Gail rode Jacoby and was concerned with how stiff he was and how he really didn't want to bring his hind in under for very long. She massaged both hips and hams, he did better. He finally started to stretch a bit and bring his right leg under more. I did not ride the entire hour, very low impact. We think he over did his hindquarters the night before during the lesson.

November 13, 2022: Warm-up for 30 minutes, no stirrups. Walk, trot, and canter both leads. Worked on shoulder in at a walk and trot. Tried shoulder in, in a circle. Hard for me at this time. Lesson portion: Worked more on shoulder in at walk and trot. Finally did a shoulder in - in a circle better to the left then right. Finally, did it correctly to the right. Gail rode Jacoby to make sure he was bending and moving better than the last lesson. He was. She worked on bending and helping him understand what we were asking of him.

November 15, 2022: Warm-up 25 minutes, no stirrups. Worked on my leg position not turning toes out. Worked on getting set up better for turn on the haunches. Had low scores both ways at World. Lesson: Worked on prep for turn on haunches took up stirrups and still working on my leg position trying to stop clamping at the knees. Worked on setting the trot, relaxing the legs. Preparing him to take a canter from a collected walk. Transitions from leg yield to canter, to setting the trot then walk to canter. Ended the lesson with a beautiful walk/canter transition-left lead!!

November 20, 2022: Warm-up, no stirrups doe 20 minutes, but only during walk. Did four turns on the forehand. One good both directions. Jacoby responded well to my aids; I was sitting the trot. Asked for more collection/connection, he responded nicely. Did shoulder in, both directions. Went into simple lead changes. First on diagonal, then down quarter line. Not great but had good moments. Gail rode Jacoby worked on lengthened canter, big and bold!! Needs lots of work on comeback staying in frame. I rode again, tried simple changes down quarter line, again, much better.  Stopped on good note!!

November 24, 2022: Warm-up 15 minutes with no stirrups at the walk, trot, and canter. Shoulder in, haunches in, side pass. Worked on softening the neck/shoulders. Lesson: I rode entire lesson. Focused on staying in Level 2 frame. Worked on collecting outside rein first, to help get into frame. Leg position on Canter departs. Tried Level 2 Test 1, not great, but Gail was pleased with our effort.

November 26, 2022: Focused on my leg positions. Trying to learn how to use inner thighs, calves not heels. Worked on applying pressure without raising my rear off the saddle every time I'm cueing him to move forward. It's going to take some time.  Shoulder ins, trying to use upper thighs, getting better. Gail's ride: shoulder ins from trot to walk, confused Jacoby, but he finally got it. Haunches in, into half pass!! I tried it after Gail, got a few strides, my body position was wrong.

November 29, 2022: Lesson Plan: simple changes. Warmed up, walk bending, shoulder ins, trot transitions, more bending, rounding working on connection/collection. Jacoby was having issues with holding his head through and during transitions. Gail rode him and had the same issue. We decided he is trying too hard and when she held her hands as quietly as possible, he figured it out. I got back on him, and he did it for me also. We are at a crossroads; Gail says that this is crucial for us to help him accept where his head needs to stay during transitions.

December 5, 2022: Warm-up at a walk, tried to bend and round his body. Not great. Trot-loosened up some, better response still not staying round or straight. I was trying too hard to force him to give to my hands. Canter departs, better, but not straight. Me again, over cueing. Gail rode and had the same issues with Jacoby. Turn on haunches to the left was not working for either of us. Jacoby kept crossing over his inside hind with the outside hind. Gail got one semi good one and stopped. I got back on and he was still not straight. Ended the lesson.

December 6, 2022: Gail ended the last lesson saying that tomorrow we will work on straightness. She did the warm-up. Jacoby was very round and straight! She did various transitions, all much better and rounder than Monday!! I got on him and we both maintained what Gail had achieved. All gaits, even very good canter departs and dropping back down to walk. Gail told me Monday on the comebacks, "it's through the helmet!” This works for me. Gail stopped the lesson and congratulated us for looking so good at Level 2!! She gave me a leg hug!! That never happened before! My goal next lesson is to warm Jacoby up as good as Gail did today and stay collected and round throughout my ride!

December 12, 2022: Warm-up goal was to start out soft and round and continue to stay in that frame as much as possible for the whole ride. Gail didn't ride so it was all on me to maintain balance and straightness as well as soft round frame. For the most part, we were very consistent. Had an issue with the inside rein, how to give it the proper way. Got better but will have to improve. Tried to add a little impulsion, to the frame, we got a start at that. Overall, Gail was pleased with us!!!

December 14, 2022: Very cold and windy, wind chill. It was 17 degrees!  Warm-up starting out soft round. He was slow to bend, could be I was slow to cue.  Circles, I was staying on the rail three-four strides out both ways. Gail kept count until I finally made a real clean circle, left and right at a trot, 20 meters. Canter - circles, same issue, Gail had me hold my inside rein up and outside on the neck. Still having issues giving the inside rein correctly, it helped holding it up higher than the outside. Leg yields - not good crossing at first. Gail had me shoulder fore/in to start then yield, it helped. I was sitting too far to the inside.  Got a few good ones right then changed and did a great one left. Got one "yes, my dear.” We stopped, good lesson!

December 19, 2022: No wind and about 35 degrees-nice weather to ride. Riding under lights, Gail on warm-up, lot of start stop transitions, trying to get Jacoby to move his back leg first. Works on quick response to cues. Bending, shoulder ins, more transitions trot to walk to canter. Gail rode him for 35 minutes. I get on him and he's very supple, soft in the neck and shoulders. Walk, good, straight, marching. Trot stays soft round. Bending, my legs and seat stay relaxed and long. It's like I always wanted to be but never quite got there!! Gail said, "time to stop, you both look fantastic.” Stopped on a good note!

December 20, 2022: Very cold - 18 degree windchill. I warm up and try to do the same type of transitions and bending as Gail did the day before. That amazing feeling I had is not there today. Still, we get on track with giving to the bit when I keep my hands steady and relaxed. Work on canter departs from trot and walk. Then try collecting up to come down into a walk, then back into a canter from a walk.  Do one good one on the left lead. Gail leaves to put her horses in- we continue to work. Start back on the long side right lead to walk left lead to walk. First one I mess it up. Next long side we do it both leads with almost no trotting steps all the way around the arena changing leads with walk steps in between. We stop on that.

Jacoby and I have had to completely adjust our warmups and I’ve really worked hard to help him except staying round and supple. Gail is and always has been the key to reaching our goals!

He is in full fluffy Mode, his unroached mane and hairy legs with bits of hay and mud really set the tone! Plus, I’ve been wearing so many layers I pray I don’t have to use the facilities, although it is warm in there!!

Take care and thank you!

I almost forgot! Jacoby was honored with 6th place USEF HORSE OF THE YEAR!! Test 1 Level 1, Amateur!!!