Tuesday 1 December 2015


My first feeling when I got on the pony last night was that she felt stuck. It's been a few months, but all the signs were there: slow off my leg, sucking back behind the contact, moving more up than out. EC of course spotted it immediately and we spent the next half an hour or so getting her to move up into my hand and relaxing over her back. We yo-yo'd back and forth between behind the bit and quite strong and pulling me along, before it got consistently good. (Exercise of choice: 10m collected trot circle, then down the area wall in the biggest trot I currently can ask for, then circle again. Focus on having her rate off my seat and finding a good rhythm to relax into. Keep the tempo the same throughout, loftier steps in our baby collected trot, longer ones in the medium trot.) I was away this past weekend and had someone else riding, EC says sometimes even a ride or two with someone else is enough to make them go differently with you (good or bad!). Other rider is a lovely rider, so I suspect it was something else/me Midge was upset with last night.

Canter work showed some real progress, and we got a few strides here and there of nice round pony working on a proper bend. My homework is to insist she carries herself in the canter, and when I get a response to remember to give that inside rein (that I love to hang on). EC feels pony is strong enough now to carry herself properly in the canter, so it's up to me to teach her that yes, that is what we want and then to make it happen when I ask. When she gets resistant, I'm to go back to (collected) trot and almost exaggerate the bend and roundness and weight on the hindquarters before transitioning back to canter. Essentially saying "Here, you can do it in trot, now that you are stronger this is what we'd like in canter too."

Dressage pony in the making

Which brought up that whole interesting topic of whether it's best to teach them the correct way first, or do as we are doing where it's different shades of "wrong" building up to correct. I've had coaches go either way on that. EC obviously goes with the latter, feeling they need to build up strength and balance first and the best way to do that is via adapted versions of your end goal. In B's case, simply holding any sort of canter had to be our starting point. (Full disclaimer: In defending her viewpoint, EC explained the method we could use to teach Bridget piaffe one (very far away) day, and my mind was pretty much blown and I didn't really take in any of her other reasoning and advice past that point in the conversation.  I'm beyond grateful for her belief in the little mare, but whoa...she really thinks we could do that!? Short answer: yes!)


  1. That 10m trot circle exercise is GREAT for my sticky pony, too! And I have been working hard lately on only asking for canter from a collected, light & fluffy trot, and it's HARD! Sounds like you had a great lesson!

  2. ooooooh piaffe, eh? so awesome that EC's got that kind of forward thinking vision in your training program!

  3. I used to use a variation of that exercise in the canter - collected canter circles in the corners, hand gallop down the long sides.

    Now I'm on a horse that is back at square 1 with: please just canter in a straight line, we won't even think about turning until you're ready to. And "just canter" has been the perfect building block for her.

  4. Woohoo. So shall I watch for you two in the Olympics? Please take me in your luggage!