Tuesday 23 October 2018

Some Learning

EC returned from vacation yesterday and texted me asking if I wanted a lesson after work. Hell yes! I was in desperate need of some progress, after feeling a lot like I just tread water when left to my own devices with Audrey. We have perfectly pleasant solo rides, which is nice, but it's fun to push the boundaries a little more in a lesson.

Bridget, of course, has been maybe (but maybe not?) a little broken, so it was nice to just hop on A and have some positive thoughts rather than all the sad feelings I have about Bridget being not quite right. We're giving B a little more R&R before we xray, and the waiting and not knowing is hard for me.

B is the best pony. Playing moving couch last weekend.

Cute side track: G called tonight to let me know he gave B her Bute today, for which I was very grateful. Just as he was about to hang up, he was like " She's the only brown one there with a white back leg, right?" I confirmed he fed the right horse without any hesitation, simply because he fed the meds without issue. No other horse on the property would have come up to the gate in hopes of eating Bute straight up out of a bucket, lol.
Hungry hippo

Anyway...a lesson recap.

In keeping with my forth quarter goals of bring a better student, I reviewed a few of the videos from last year's USEF Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic while EC was away. Specifically, the tips of lead changes and half pass since those are pretty relevant to my current lessons. Every time I watch those videos I get inspired, so in addition to all the excellent tips of those topics, I also went into my ride being very conscious of having A quite sharp off my aids and keeping that energy circulating through her body.
I'm always in a rush since my lesson is right after work then I have an appointment following, so my media of Audrey is always lacking!

Sure enough, we had a lesson in lead changes :) After playing with collected walk to remind me of how active I want her hind end in canter, we moved up to trot. EC wanted me to place her in renvers 4-5 strides, straight for 1, then travers for 4-5, then straight 1, then back to renvers...repeat all the way around the arena, staying on an inside track. This was actually super helpful for me as far as understanding where my body should be in the changes...the aids are quite similar. The awareness and accuracy of striding, also helpful. Finally, the idea that her shoulders and mine align and stay straight and square to wherever we are headed, her ribcage bends around my inside leg, her hind end comes in off my outside leg.

 Keeping the shoulders on an unwavering track makes the changes of bend way smoother. You know how you think you get something, but suddenly the lightbulb goes off and you realize you still weren't quite there? That was me last night, finally setting my line up well in advance  and being very accurate with that shoulder placement. Changing the bend isn't so much the question for A, it's the shoulders holding the track that is crucial.  Both A and B evade through the outside shoulder in exactly the same way, so it's actually slightly rewarding to already have the tools to fix A's wiggliness in my toolbox. Thanks Bridget!

Enjoy some random pictures of Bridget to break the text

Lastly, but not least(ly?), onwards to practicing changes!
For my own sake, we exaggerated them slightly, both to help with collection, and to drill into me setting up and keeping the slight changes in bend. There are a lot of moving parts to consider on a horse like A! So, Robert Dover would have been disappointed by A's slightly swinging hindquarters at times through the change. On the short side, I had Audrey almost in travers but not quite, held it until a stride from the centerline, and then switched the bend to straight, then almost renvers.  And so, in place of the stride of straightness we were practicing in trot, we had me asking for lead changes in that moment of straightness. Carry through to the corner and my slight bend becomes travers again with the change of direction :) Obviously, this is me, and it wasn't all quite so smooth. There were some mistimed cues resulting in cooked changes, and a rather interesting display of hopping up and down on the spot before changing, due to me forgetting the memo about being vigilant about holding her shoulders on the line.

We did a bit of work on the quarter line, and I can see where that is leading - tempi changes! EEK, so exciting. First, though, I need to nail the timing on single changes better.

After years of riding younger horses and Bridgets, it's really really fun to sit on a more established horse and just get to play. Audrey is the quirkiest mare I've ever met, but she's very talented and loves to work, which are all good things for me. Nothing comes super easy due to her often dramatic opinions, but she's willing to work for you and doesn't hold many grudges.  As always, I very much appreciate the opportunity to ride and lesson on her.


  1. Sounds like some really good lessons and totally agree with you - Robert Dover is so inspiring!

  2. Yay for the return of these lessons - sounds like you get so much out of them, and Audrey is so cool!!!

  3. Sounds like a great lesson, I know I would benefit from getting on a schoolmaster!

    1. Sadly, Audrey is not a schoolmaster, but she is exceptionally talented and we get along just fine most days :)

  4. Oooooo tempis! That's really exciting. It's so freaking cool that you get to enjoy lessons on a horse like Audrey.

    1. I really, really appreciate each lesson!