Tuesday 21 February 2017

OK, That Was Fun

Subtitle: Life goals reaffirmed: To own a fancy dressage pony, and to ride it well.

As you may have noticed yesterday,  I was slightly anxious about my ability to do the lovely Audrey credit. While those concerns are valid, they turned out to not be valid in the "you're gonna die and ruin your coach's fancy dressage horse all at the same time" way. So, we're already winning ;) (Also, I REALLY need to revisit those sports psychology books...I suspect envisioning all the things that could go wrong because you're such a terrible rider isn't a very healthy pastime.)

So, Audrey is amazing.  She's at a similar level of training to Bridget, except everything is just super easy for her. Collect, extend, changes, all there with zero difficulty and provided to you in very good balance. She's a huge mover, but surprisingly,  it didn't feel awkward, it just felt like a bigger, more balanced Bridget. I could sit the lengthenings no big deal, which made me happy because for some reason I thought that would be difficult for me on a big horse.
Can't you just see the similarities? lol

The similarities are there in other ways. Both are super bendy, both are really soft in the bridle, free through the shoulder and very loose through their backs. Both naturally move uphill. The differences include those more extravagant gaits, the much larger degree of natural talent, and the sharper reactions to your aids. Bridget tends to lose balance and run away out the front, Audrey loses balance and comes back towards you and turns into a big spring bouncing on her hind legs. Audrey's a lot more ambitious and quite willing to get creative about flinging her legs all over the place if she gets in a muddle. B likes to stop and think it over. Also, the whole attention span of a squirrel thing, B is much more naturally inclined to not worry about what every little noise or movement is.

What I learned: EC isn't lying to me when she says Bridget feels like a mini Audrey, and that Bridget could be a fancy dressage pony. I can feel the similarities, and this was a great insight as to how Bridget could feel with further training. Obviously, it will be a lot more work and strength building for Bridget, but the same feel is already there, if that makes sense.

More take homes:

- I'm still perfectly capable of riding hot and spooky.
- Collecting and lengthening on A gives the same feel as on Bridget, so proud pony rider/trainer moment there as I know Audrey is very correct.
- Audrey didn't tell on me once for my hands, which was excellent and means my hands are soft and steady and not doing anything too random or weird.
- I need to work on myself in the canter. Audrey says I am getting too light in my seat when I ask for more forward. She says that either means trot or change leads.
- I'm not consistent with my body in the leg yields.  Ours were great at the trot, but in the canter I was tending towards using too much rein/bend and not being clear enough with my seat. Same results as above, lead change or trot.
- Huge movement = increased fitness requirements. My "riding muscles" (abs and thighs) are a bit sore today, which hasn't happened in years.
-Even though I'm pretty sure EC will be fixing my mistakes in her ride tomorrow, I get to ride Audrey again Wednesday, and actually any time while Bridget is under the weather. Exciting!
- I really liked Audrey's build and height. She's small, maybe 15.3 and fairly narrow and feminine. After 14.1hh Bridget, bigger horses (looking at you, 17hh Q mare!) can sometimes feel a little weird to me. A is perfect. If I had unlimited resources, coaching,  and time, I'd have one like her in a flash :)

Immediate goals: Own that canter leg yield and shoulder in on Wednesday.

So, a very successful night. I think EC'S master plan was to let me decide for myself whether I want to go shopping for my own fancy Audrey pony, or whether I want to dig in and train Bridget to give me the same ride. I choose option 2, because I'm inspired and can feel we're really not that far off. While Bridget won't ever move as fancy as Audrey, it's still fun and I'm happy enough to stay more on the Cardi end of the spectrum! Also, since when do I back away from a challenge? Did you ever REALLY think I'd replace Bridget? No, didn't think so. I'm pretty sure EC knew all along it would never happen, too  :)

Picture I was just sent of Bridget and I from a xc clinic last year. I think we'll ditch the vest, change the tack, and do more dressage this year.


  1. Your coach is amazing and sounds like she really understands the mental stuff which is so helpful! Sounds like an amazing ride and it's always good to know that we're on the right track :)

    1. She actually has a masters degree in coaching science, and her passion is coaching...which is wonderful! I feel like a lot of times riding coaches are teaching lessons to pay the bills so they can follow their passion and ride/pay for horses, rather than teaching riding lessons because they love teaching first and horses second.

  2. What a generous offer! Nothing look a good morale boost to enlighten your training

  3. That sounds like a great lesson. Since you are so good riding hot, spooky mares, can you come here and help me start Carmen this spring? ;-)

    I'm glad you decided to stay with B-I lthink she's a great horse.

    1. Oh, I love Carmen! Hot and spooky was my comfort zone growing up, so the instincts are still there, however the confidence, not always! That's partly why I have such trouble with B - she's the first slower thinking horse I've ever owned and I find it so frustrating, but the trade off confidence wise for me is a good thing!

  4. Heck yeah!!!! What a confidence-building, inspiring, awesome ride!! Sometimes we just need a little reminder that we DO kinda know how to ride to give us renewed enthusiasm for our own ponies!

    1. Right? I went home thinking I can actually do this thing, and with real, solid things to work on for next time. It feels like it's been awhile since that has happened.

  5. Ahhh what a great feeling!!! Audrey sounds incredible - even more so that she could give you so much inspiration about the path you're on with B!!! How insightful for EC to put you on her!

    1. She is incredible! I've never been lucky enough to be around such a naturally talented horse, let alone ride one.It's a perfect match because experience and training wise she's at a similar place to B, and requires a similar ride, but physically A can do so much more and provide some really good feedback for me.