Thursday 8 October 2015

In Which Bridget Impersonates Ginger

Midge warmed up like a crazy pony (*for real, legit spooky/bolty/snorty!*) last night, so a dressage lesson was the order of the day. I was happy she's small, because she's quite reminiscent of Ginger in that mood - very quick and powerful! It was our first ride where it was dark enough to necessitate the arena lights, plus it was windy and rainy and the metal roof was making all sorts of noise. In other words, she gets a pass for being a little unlike her normal self. Pony also apparently now thinks arena = massive excitement where we charge around and jump all the things, so she was less than impressed to be put on a circle that avoided all that. There was much groaning and sulking and more than a few attempts at drifting over in the direction of a jump. I can't be upset about her naughtiness either, I love that she is really excited about something and loving at least part of her job!
Shiny and cute earlier in the week.

We started out with a check in of our lateral aids. Shoulder in, and a bit of leg yield in and out on the circle, then some haunches in. Midge had her game face on, and more than enough energy waiting to be diverted to a good cause, so it was declared we've made excellent progress since last time. 
We moved on to some canter work, which made it obvious Midge still finds turning from the outside aids an optional sort of thing. This was where she started attempting to drag me over to the jumps we had set up. Since they were set at about 3' she at least gets points for being ambitious! Exercise for the day: every time I start to lose the outside shoulder, immediately spiral in and exaggerate moving that shoulder in. Don't worry about keeping the canter, worry about reinforcing those outside aids and making the turn happen exactly when and where I want it to.
The shape is getting  more sporty, and less round!
Words of wisdom from EC:

- We need to establish better steering in the canter before we can fine tune it- don't worry if she's above the bit or I feel a little like I'm manhandling her in order to keep the circle. Help her understand she needs to respect outside rein, work on the rest later.

- Lateral work. A proper balanced canter is going to come from establishing and practicing correct lateral work.

-In canter or on a bending line/circle, half halt comes from seat and outside rein, as outside hind is what you're trying to get more active. Use both reins on a straight line in trot because we are (hopefully) working equally behind in trot and want to influence both hinds equally.

- Pony is trying now, work ethic is much improved over earlier in the summer where she would just give up and not want to do anything "hard".

- Since Bridget tends to get "stuck" practice three strides of shoulder in or travers and then three strides of forward and straight. Keep her forward and thinking.

- Also useful for crooked/sticky ponies: Establish a balanced and rhythmic working trot (ie pony really getting her hind legs under her and carrying herself) and then ask for a stride or two of leg yield, but almost think half pass (for me this visual works to keep us straight/stop me hanging on the outside rein). Insist on maintaining same balance and tempo, teach pony that lateral can also be forward.

- Midge needs to build cardio in canter. That means canter more! Canter all the things.

- Bonus tip (from an earlier lesson, thank goodness) that I found funny: "You're flopping around like a jellyfish! Stop doing that! Jellyfish don't ride good transitions!"

I shouldn't admit this but my favorite part of the lesson was when EC got on to help me work through the canter issues and Bridget just about succeeded in dragging her over a jump. Pony is becoming more confident and funny lately and I sort of like it - she was so "blah" when I got her it's neat to see a bit more of a personality coming out :)

Shiny happy pony post ride



  1. She looks so awesome!! That's too funny about the jellyfish comment haha

  2. I think she will be an eventer yet, these little pocket rockets can jump!

  3. canter alllll the things!! she sounds so gung ho haha