Sunday 6 September 2020

Some Much Needed Direction - Lesson Recap

While being forced to problem solve and think for myself is a good thing, it’s so easy to get lost and to start to feel a little directionless without regular coaching. I’ve been in a weird head space for a while now regarding Sophie/my riding. I think deep down inside I’ve remained confident enough in myself that there’s no real danger of me ever giving up riding completely, but my inner mean girl has been a real jerk for a while now, telling me I’m not good enough and I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m just going to mess it all up. Some days I don’t ride because I’m just not in the right mindset, other days I get on and mentally beat myself up later for every perceived mistake I make. It’s a lot of fun, I tell you ;) 

Best ponies

I’m so, so lucky to have the kindest husband who willingly comes and watches me ride and who does very well at just being there. Just Being There is a very underrated trait. He’s also taken to videoing bits and pieces of my rides when he thinks I don’t notice, which is absolutely wonderful because it’s truly random and I’d be self conscious if I knew he was videoing. 99% of the time I watch it back and my riding looks nothing like I think it does (in a good way!)

I find these random pictures and videos on my phone and it’s a bit like Xmas :)

Anyway, he’s great and I’m lucky, BUT you can also imagine how happy I am that my wonderfully blunt and honest coach of days past came up for a visit and a lesson. I absolutely trust her feedback and was very much looking forward to it. Even if it was something I didn’t want to hear, at least it’s a path forward and I knew she’d give me the encouragement and tools to fix it.

On Saturday, I had my lesson and all the direction and homework and encouragement I think I was starting to desperately need were included. At last!

I don’t care who you are, I think sometimes we all need a little outside validation that we’re on the right path! 

I’ve been bad at taking pictures, so you get to see this one again

I won’t bore you with the minutia of the lesson was a pretty boring young horse/out of practice rider scene. My big take home is that I should be happy with how nicely she’s coming along, especially considering I’ve not had much help. (Why is that hard to even write out? I feel like you’ll think I’m saying I’m good at this baby horse thing or something...I really need to work on my compliment taking abilities)

Anyway, I was just happy with that commentary and that we navigated the “scary corner” of the arena with very minimal dramatics. We even shared space with other riders without being too magnetized to them, go Sophie!

But, apparently there IS more I should be working on :D

So, my homework:

- Walk-trot-walk transitions, being conscious to maintain the contact - she’s balanced and adjustable enough that I can start refining those transitions and insist she stays soft and supple. To give Sophie her due, the ups aren’t bad if I stay focused, but coming back to walk can get a little brace-y and we fall into a bit of a heap. 

- She was a bit sticky on the day, which is unlike her. So, more forward if she’s sucking back.

So much forward trotting tho.

Trying not to fall into a heap in one of our better down transitions

- Canter...she needs to canter. Lots. She’s got a nice canter but she’s not confident (oops..this is on me not being brave enough on the baby to kick through and keep going when things get weird...we worked on it and I feel good now). Right now we don’t care about leads, or even steering at this point, just add in some canter strides and lots of trot-canter-trot on straight lines on the long side until the transitions are prompt and it’s really no big deal.

 Because this transition is what we’re all striving for, right?πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I can’t seem to slow this clip down but the high speed just makes the lack of leads or steering extra evident, you’ll just have to trust me her canter is actually cute πŸ˜‚

- Lateral work. She’s got good basics and understands the concept, but it kind of flies out the window when we move up to trot or something else is happening she needs to think about. So, a little more reliable leg yield in trot would be a good thing...and coincidentally helpful in setting up the canter departs a little better.

- Basically, just ride the horse I want. Yes, she’s still a baby, but also it’s reasonable to set few “grown up pony” expectations each ride provided I am clear and fair with her about them. What isn’t fair is to ride her one way now “because she’s just young” then change the rules to start as you want to proceed, I guess :)

A final note...EC is pretty sure Sophie has even more growing to do! Never thought I’d say this...but I actually don’t want her getting too much taller. She also offered to drive up and coach us once a month this winter...which if you know where I live is a VERY kind’s 90 minutes of driving and a 50 minute ferry ride each way from her place.

I’m incredibly grateful to have so many supportive people in my life.

I’m on vacation this coming week, then we’re signed up for a 2 day clinic with the nice lady who came to teach us in July. Exciting!



  1. I think thst those voices also live in my head. πŸ˜‰ I think you guys are looking great. It is good to get feedback and help. I’d be lost without it.

    1. If we've got to live with voices in our heads they could at least be civil to us, right? πŸ˜‚

  2. Woohoo!! I hear you on beating myself up over things as a rider and also with ground work. It's not helped by going the non traditional route of adult on a grade pony with big dressage goals. It's always so nice to have a positive outside opinion and helps me stay out of my own way :)

    1. I’m so bad at getting in my own head, even though I,m happy enough with my choices and wouldn’t trade my pony for the world.

  3. Looking good! The negative self talk can be so hard to deal with. Glad you are getting some validation.

  4. you guys are doing amazing! and Sophie is just the best!! SO glad you have a great coach to help you with her! :) Can you do video feedback as well with lessons (AKA your hubby videos and you send those to her when she cant get to you)

    I have a feeling Sophie is going to be a CHUNK so wont matter how tall she gets ;) Bet she isnt done growing yet too hahahha

    1. With travel so limited right now and lesson and clinic rates getting exponentially higher, I’m looking into what kind of virtual lesson set up could work here. Your suggestion would be easy and do-able, but I also want to try to get a good enough connection to have live feedback. Pondering a zoom call type set up where hubby takes video and I listen to coach as I ride.

  5. Ohhhh what an amazing, amazing offer for lessons through the winter! You two are going to be in such an amazing place by spring.

    1. I can’t believe what a generous offer that is! So kind and supportive.

  6. So my grad school does a summer series where they talk to professionals in the industry about their careers. In one of them a cartoonist I look up to said "Learn to live with the voice in your head, they are loud and wrong about you." I try to remember that when my inner critic gets out of control (also it's written on my chalk board next to my desk"

    1. Excellent advice. Thank you, I think I might leave that in my little tack room as something to ponder before every ride