Thursday 19 May 2016

Here To Work

I love my lesson mates, but if I could afford to abandon them for private lessons I would totally do it on a more regular basis. Still, I am super spoiled. Every so often when the scheduling just doesn't work I get a private lesson added on at the end of the day for the cost of a group one. It's a good deal!

Tonight was one of those nights. I opted to focus on dressage, because it's been a while, also because I'm feeling like we're seriously underpowered. I ended up having a fantastic lesson. I'm a terrible eventer because I got way more out if it and had more fun than any jump lesson in recent memory. That feeling of having your horse soft and right there with you every stride is addictive! Maybe one day we'll get there over fences, for now that feeling is only found in our dressage lessons.

Shiny happy pony
The take homes:

- When I get in the saddle, I have to be in the mindset that we're here to work! Every time. I should not be slacking off or letting Bridget get away with anything, even on the trails. Marching forward, on the bit, responsive immediately to my aids. No "relaxing", wandering along on a loose rein dragging along on her forehand. She is a pony mare, giving an inch will result in her taking a mile ;)

-On the same theme: Bridget stays round when I ask, hind legs step under, become more active when I ask for forward. Forward = Bigger, rounder, never flatter. Again, consistency. This needs to happen in all the gaits, all the time.

-Lots of forwards, backwards within the gaits. If she gets behind my leg at any point, she goes forward IMMEDIATELY.

-Canter. Huge progress, is so close to being as adjustable as the trot. Keep working on it, keep focusing on it.

-Transitions. All the time, everywhere. To rebalance, also as a correction when she breaks gait or runs through the bridle. Focus on keeping her round through the transitions - she's experienced and fit enough she doesn't need to throw her head up anymore. She's solidly at first level - treat her like it!

In short, I need to expect more and be more disciplined.

-When people talk about horses working from behind or shifting their weight back, it's a bit misleading and not what is really happening. Really they are tucking their pelvis under and bringing the hind leg under, but pushing off more/bigger with the front feet. It feels different than what the biomechanics show. 

-Advised reading up on  Dr Hilary Clayton's work if interested.

And, the good stuff:

-XC schooling is booked for the day after the dressage show (May 28/29).

More tiny logs!
-Will likely max out at Pre-Training (3'). She is scopy enough to jump higher, but galloping wise likely could not get fit enough. Expects we will be competing at Pre-Training end of next season, so I should start to consider future plans now. 

 -Still sees no reason we can't aim for PSG in the dressage ring (!),  and go to the odd event for fun, if want to jump a little bigger maybe try some two phases.

-Bridget is nicer over her back and has nicer paces than Ginger - of the two B is not so eye catching but is actually the more correct and naturally supple of the two and the one she would have told me to keep. (In short...stop already with the regrets over Ginger!)

I really like jumping and may eventually want to pursue it beyond Bridget's capabilities, but I can also tell you right now I am still totally on board for (attempting to) ride and train a legit dressage pony. It's a discussion we've had in the past, but was more of a theoretical "why not try?" It's exciting to me now that we are farther along that EC is still 100% believing in the pony power!

Love this one, not sure if I shared it before
I won't bore you with how over experienced and over qualified  EC is to coach us - in short if I had actually read her full bio prior to asking for board/lessons I would have been too intimidated to make the call! Simply having someone of that level of expertise believe that B is a good pony for my long term riding future and that I could potentially ride her at such a high level is hugely flattering and very motivating.



  1. I can take some of that advice myself!

    1. I'm pretty sure I've head that advice every's still not sinking in ;)

  2. Sounds like you had a good lesson!! Yay for cross country

  3. Great recap and I can also take some of that advice and work on it. Especially having higher expectations of the pony mare ;)

    Pony Power!!!

    1. The higher expectations/more disciplined thing is always going slow my/Bridget's progress, I think

  4. Why is being disciplined so hard sometimes?!?! Exciting and interesting view of the future too - esp hearing that trainer would have recommended B over ginger in any case

    1. Yes, kind of caught me by surprise. I am so good at second guessing and beating myself up for things lol