Thursday 24 March 2016

Adapting to Change

I went into tonight's ride having already mentioned to EC that Bridget has been feeling quite defensive this past week and it's been really hard to get her working properly. Unsurprisingly, I could see EC keeping an extra eye on us in our warm up.

More not so great randoms from the past couple of weeks
As I suspected, she saw a lot to fix, and the first part of our jump lesson became a dressage lesson instead.

Because EC is magical, I had my happy and soft pony back within about 15 min. The trick was lots and lots of transitions and of course finding that happy place between pony being behind the leg/bit and running away like a giraffe. 

The jumping went great after that, the only concern being some late-ish canter transitions as the pony was getting tired.

Dinner, her favorite time of the day
Take homes (and there were lots of them):

- "More" does not equal faster. "More" on a Midge pony also will never equal the "more" you've felt on a big warmblood. I sometimes ask for more (a bigger trot mostly) and Midge gets panicky because she simply can't :( 

- Although she'll never be a big/fancy mover, she is very correct and very good through her back.

- Soften my elbows. 9/10 when she is fussing in the bridle it's because I'm not being elastic enough.

-She is one of the most sensitive horses in the barn, even more so than Ginger.  Respect that, appreciate it, rather than finding it frustrating. We can use it to our advantage.

-Don't be so hard on myself, we've come a really long way in a short period of time.  Remember when just getting a right lead canter or trotting a  x rail was an achievement? :)

 -She's more advanced now. I need to be more disciplined and insist on timely and correct transitions, and correct that right shoulder drift every.single.time it happens.

- Jump schools - are exactly that. Don't get in the mindset of riding courses/just getting to the fences, be in the mindset of a dressage ride where I take the time to circle or correct if needed. I would NEVER let her drag me around on the flat, so why do I allow it before a fence?

-Pony is very good at evading contact. However, if she is above, I can probably assume I need to check my elbows and slow down, if she is round but nothing is there, I need to ask her for forward. NOT big, dramatic changes, just check in for a stride or two. Don't worry about where her head is so much, work on getting the feel that I am almost too slow, but have enough power and impulsion that if I ask for an up transition it will be there immediately.

-We've messed with her mind a little by adding collected work, so it's to be expected that she is questioning where I want her to be in all gaits.

-Be very aware of insisting she  keep her body exactly where I ask it to be, but also be aware of not asking too much as she's still building strength and it's hard for her.

-Straightness, straightness, straightness. On the circle, to the fences, through the lateral work. Her head stays directly in front and in the center of her shoulders at all times, no exceptions. (This is a big one for me, too often my go to when she pops her shoulder or twists her head is to pull on her nose rather than pushing the shoulder around and her momentum forward.)

-Unsaid, but implied through all the above: I need to back off and be more tactful/patient. This is a different, more educated  pony than the one we started with a few months ago. Essentially, adapt your riding to the changing pony !

Love, love, love the coaching here. There's some stuff in there that could have been presented harshly, but it was presented in a positive and encouraging manner. Above all, it's super honest and fair and she's great at giving you a plan and some tools to improve.

Sunshine-y ride through the neighbourhood



  1. it's really still so exciting to me that you landed in such an awesome program - all of EC's takeaways are so fabulous and i could really use a LOT of them in my own riding!

  2. Sounds like a fun lesson! Trainers are also magical unicorns!

  3. I love all of those and you gave me some things to think about. In particular I like the one about appreciating her sensitivity rather than being annoyed by it. I need to work on that about myself with Katai.

  4. those lessons that are timed so well are golden

  5. Lots of great notes in there! I agree that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself :) Sounds like you have a wonderful coach.

  6. Sounds like a really great lesson! So many take-aways that you can use in every ride :)