Thursday 6 July 2017

Trying Too Hard

My first ride in a week was a dressage lesson last night, and confirmed that I think we need to take a time out to relax and not try so hard more often!

I have no media because I finally got a new phone and need to take pictures! Throwback Thursday to almost 3 years ago and my trial ride on Midge...also one of her first rides, I think.
Our lesson started out pretty rough and then got better and better. We found our trot again, which had been lost temporarily due to all the canter work and transitions we've been drilling. You'd think it would be impossible to 'lose' the trot on a Welsh Cob, but Midge has been anticipating the canter so much that her trot was getting too up and down and bouncy, losing that nice relaxed, lower and more forward working trot. On the plus side, the canter is getting really, really nice. I think EC thought all along that we could build a good canter in her, but I have to admit to having my doubts! I'm slightly in disbelief that her canter is now my favorite gait to ride on her.

As far as her back, she felt wonderful! The time off did us both good, and there seem to be no negative effects fitness wise. No regrets.

Rather than recap in detail, here's some input that resonated with me or that I am consistently using of late:

-Straight, straight, straight. Even if it's exaggerated and she's slightly counterbent to the outside. Straightness is needed for forward, and she's not allowed to 'hide' by throwing her shoulders out or hindquarters in even slightly.

-Try using 'big' spurs only for dressage lessons and shows. Like with her dressage tack, see if we can build an association that those spurs mean she needs to go to work and we expect her to work in a certain way (dressagin'!) Can continue to go without spurs on the trail as long as she's honest about marching along, and stick with roller spurs for her jumping days. (Side note: there's a real worry she'll start to ignore even the big spurs if we use them frequently, hence trying to use them only once or twice a week and compromising a little on the hack and jump days by not asking quite so much of her dressage wise, being consistent in making the difference in how we expect her to go very clear - I think it's worth a try!)

Midge says she approves of backyard pony life last week. (not my place, this was the farm up north we did our XC clinic at)
- Me "Maybe one day I'll learn how to ride my horse"
  EC "It's hard when your horse is changing and needs a different ride every time."

- So many walk pirouettes to help with the bend and unlock the pony. Ditto zig zag leg yields.

- EC "Don't settle anymore for a second or two of 100%. She's on to that game. Insist she gives 110% for as long as you ask, then give a little"

- She wiggles around...don't get sucked into the game of following her and trying to keep a consistent contact. Insist she stay forward and straight. Make her come into wherever I put my hands. Hold my hands steady and insist. Bring it back to the walk if necessary. (Simple concept, so much harder than it sounds - particularly in transitions where lately I start to put my leg on and she ducks out right and inverts for a split second, setting us up to be behind the leg in the transition)

-"THAT's your trot!" Besides the canter work, this was the high point of the ride - pony was even and pushing, taking me forward into a really nice working trot with a bit more suspension than normal. Didn't even know she had a trot like that in there! Although, bit of a sad face here because what takes a ton of work on Midge is super easy to find on the other horses I ride. Forward as the key to all things can't be emphasized's next to impossible to get anything when the default is to wiggle and suck back and generally want to avoid the contact above all. Oh well, the tough horses make you better, right?

- Me (contemplating attending upcoming show): "I'm worried we'd be seriously outclassed and look silly"
EC: "Well, you will be outclassed. There will be people at FEI levels there trying to get good scores and be considered for the Pan Am games team. (pause) ...but they won't be riding Training level with you!"

Ha ha, excellent point. Off I go to evaluate adding another show to the budget.

Today's Pony Wheel of Fortune ride status = equal parts "Dressage Star" and "Smarter Than U"



  1. "Simple concept, so much harder than it sounds"
    ^I think that comment can be applied to most of dressage!!

    Glad the break did you both good. That's amazing that you've succeeded in making Midge's canter improve so much to where it's your favorite gait. I know we have very different horses but I'm still very much in the stage that I can't believe Kachina and I will ever be really comfortable in the canter. This gives me encouragement so thanks!

  2. Sounds like a really great lesson and some great tips that you shared. I could certainly use some of this as well ;)

  3. I think that wheel applies to mares. :D
    I'm glad you had a good lesson and are making progress with Ms. Bridget. Go to the show- it'll be fun!

  4. aw EC always seems to have the right thing to say. sounds like a great lesson! and exciting about the new phone to start taking more pictures!