Thursday 15 December 2016


My lesson Monday was really, really difficult. Bridget was super wiggly and stuck feeling and my feeble attempts at fixing that were not helpful. Why can't I seem to get it into my head that tension plus tension is only going to equal more tension? Softness does not equal hanging on the outside rein! Contact is not manufactured by shortening said rein either.  So obvious yet still so difficult in practice.
Midge is still happy, though. Treats make everything good in Ponyville.

I had a bit of a moment and decided that I'm incapable of learning how to ride and really there is no point in wasting everyone's time. Luckily, EC likes making lesson money ;) and talked me off the ledge, so we ended on a good note and figured some stuff out in the process:

1. I need to ride better.
2. But don't be too hard on myself because B is a tricky ride. It's just not going to be perfect right now, and that's OK.
3. B's saddle needs to be adjusted.
4. B prefers her loose ring French link over her eggbutt snaffle bridle.
5. My idea of "being mean" to Bridget, and Bridget's idea of what is mean are very different things. In short, when in doubt, follow up with my stick immediately,  and don't feel guilty for being firm with her when required.

Wednesday, I warmed up and EC said nothing. Normally this means there is just so much wrong she can't even, and she needs to avert her eyes and just wait for the start of the lesson to fix my vices. Sometimes, like last night, it's because I was doing an alright job. Phew.  Maybe I have some capacity to learn, after all.

On a continuation of our December Gymnastics theme, our dressage lesson featured a bunch of poles. A fan set on a 15m circle, along with the standard circle of death on a 20 min circle.

Exercises were as follows:

Circle of death:

1. In trot, trot between the poles, transition for one walk stride over each pole, then back to trot
2. Next, stay in trot, but collect the trot one or two strides over the pole, then lengthen the 3 or 4 strides between poles.
3. Then, canter the poles, shortening over and lengthening between.
4. And finally, add a trot stride over the poles, canter between. Midge and I can only manage 1 or 2 accurate transitions on the circle, I simply cant keep her balanced enough to ask for more. But that's OK,  she's green, it's hard. The goal is to consistently get 2 this month.

Fan: Trot to start, then canter. Spiral in and out as needed. This is another exercise that forces you to ride off your outside aids and have a responsive horse. Its also imperative to find a good canter and keep your line, drift in or out at all and your distances get all messed up! Midge surprised me by being able to keep the 15m circle for the most part, although a few transitions and spirals out were required for balancing.

Both exercises were super useful for our current struggles. Both require pony to be on a proper bend on the circle and to turn her shoulders off my outside aids immediately when asked. For me, they force me to ride off my seat and leg and just keep my hands steady and B's head in front of her shoulders. Any tendancy to pull her nose around results in crookedness that is made super obvious when we get to the poles. Also, tons and tons of transitions are our friend right now!

Poles are almost jumps and therefore fun in Midge land too, so although there were some fresh, excited pony antics,  these exercises helped us avoid the "forward" argument and let us focus on other things. +1 for everyone's sanity.

So, there is maybe some light at the end of the tunnel. I'm starting to understand more what I need to do, and am gaining the tools to get it done. Can I dare to hope B is also possibly tiring of  pretending to be a 3 year old again? - she showed up to work last night like the 7 year old she actually is.


  1. Holy, those sound hard. Also I feel slightly intimidated by how often you guys do activities with the circle of death.

    1. You should note I never post about circles of death, unless it's a lesson recap. I hate it, and would not use it nearly as often if left to my own devices:)

  2. That turning off the outside rein thing is what we're working on right now and I'm securely belted in on the struggle bus. Anyone watching my ride last night would have thought that both me and Katai were drunk and blind.

    1. I made a critical mistake in treating B like a baby and using my inside rein 'to help' for far too long. We'll both get through this!

  3. WOW that circle of death exercise sounds REALLY difficult! I have done the fan one before, with raised cavaletti as well as flat poles, and LOVED it for finding that connection on the outside rein and getting my pony to really lift and carry himself!

    1. Yes, super hand, but genius for giving you the feel you want for proper turns and properly balanced transitions. Also, it forces you to be accurate and plan ahead.

  4. Ha yay for poles helping clear out the argument around forward! And even more yay for getting more glimpses of the mature well schooled pony that Bridge likes to pretend she isn't haha

    1. Adding poles = at least 2 years of schooling magically rediscovered :)

  5. Oh Bridget!! Glad things are getting better.

  6. I love poles! I suck too much to try those intense exercises though