Monday 27 July 2020

What We're Working On

Owning a baby is fun and everything, but it's not really where it's at for fascinating blog content. I love getting into the nitty gritty of riding and training horses as much as anyone, but currently my goal posts look like this:

"We trotted around the arena without trying to stop even once!"

"She only got distracted and spooked twice this ride!"

"She was almost offering contact those few strides!"

"We walked over those poles without hesitation. Then we trotted them!"

"I didn't grab her face when she scooted forward that time!"

All good things, of course, but not something anyone wants to write (or read) an in depth post about.

She'd also like you to know I trimmed her mane. Exciting!!!
She'd also like you to know I trimmed her bridle path and she'd like it back.

I'm continuing to pick away at our homework from the clinic, but in a very easygoing way. After the force of nature that is Bridget, I'm very conscious of wanting to keep things fun and easy for Sophie. Sophie wants to be good and go to work and make everyone happy, so there is no need to 'work through' much of anything at the moment or 'install' a work ethic, she'll give you 110% every time. I'm not feeling any push to work hard to progress quickly, either. We're in a very lucky position to have a summer to ourselves without many lessons or showing goals or even too many people to share an arena with, so why not just take it easy, build up a really good base and partnership and have lots of fun, relaxed miles to start out her career.

Our homework from the clinic is useful to revisit no matter what stage you're at, so here's what I'm currently looking for in a ride:

 - Be very aware of where the feet are. No meandering around, even in warm up/cool down (so guilty of that over here!) Rider chooses path and speed, turn your head and look where you're going, have a plan well in advance! Straightness, straightness, straightness.

This post brought to you by outtakes. Pictured: me, not looking where I'm going and doing weird things with my arms and hands.

- Rhythm, relaxation. For about the next two years, those are the main focus of any dressage test we'll be tackling (and of course a necessary thing in general!)

- Resist any temptation to 'put her on the bit' or fiddle with the reins/push her there in her body. She needs to find her own balance and way to the connection, and that will come with the above.

- For me: don't baby her now and try to change the rules later (I got called out big time on my tendency to use a big opening rein to the point I'm upsetting her balance by pulling her head around) Small open rein is fine for now until direct and neck rein is a thing, but don't forget the entire body needs to turn, not just the head, so just go ahead and use those seat and leg aids and ride her like she's more educated than she is :)

- Forward impulsion is my friend. Straightness, turns, transitions all so much easier when she's marching along.

- Keeping things short and interesting. She figured out how to move her shoulders over and do squares the other day, so we quit there, after about 10 minutes of walking.

Troll hair alive and well ;)

I've been setting up different patterns with cones and poles this past week. I'm finding it's great for keeping us both focused and on task. We're super lucky to have a huge arena to use, but of course the flip side to that is that every time I go back to a 20x40 arena it's apparent that my 20 meter circles have grown larger and my idea of straight and sharp transitions are no match for small spaces ;) We're not worried about dressage arenas yet with Sophie, but you can't start too early, and given my general goal of keeping a defined path and knowing where her feet are, patterns and poles to define the space are a good thing.

Enjoying her down time.

Next clinic is a month away and it will be fun to see what changes we've made between now and then. I had a longer term plan of buying a trailer and trailering her down to EC's regularly next fall and winter, possibly boarding there part of the time, but if the clinician we had last time commits to coming to us on a once a month schedule long term, I might stick with that until Sophie and I are a bit further along and we can really take advantage of EC's talents. I really, really miss her and the barn crew and the show opportunities, but with travel and Covid considerations for now I'm just grateful we've got someone who will come here regularly.



  1. I love these posts. She’s doing awesome and you should be very pleased!

  2. I mean I love the same old same old posts of young horses - and its your blog write exactly what you want when you want.

  3. Sounds like a good plan! I enjoy watching her progress and physical development.

  4. Bahaha, I felt the same when I got Leo last year. Look- we can trot a 20m circle! You guys look great, tho, and I'm so glad you're having fun with her!

  5. you are doing amazing and Sophie is lucky to have you. I am never bored by these posts. How could I be with all that banana yellow in the photos? :)

  6. her fluffy hair and happy relaxed expression just kill me haha -- she looks like such a sweetie!! charlie and i did a lot of pole work in the early days too (still do, actually) for the same reasons. it's so nice to have those tangible visible landmarks to help clarify things. also fwiw imo the most compelling and engaging content comes when folks write about the stuff they care most about. enthusiasm and excitement shines through the writing in even the most familiar subjects like teaching babies the basics <3