January 6, 2012


I'm really cautious to post this Friday lesson wrap-up, because I'm afraid I'm going to come off as a barn-blind "horse mom."  Those of you who know me really well know that I am, after being a student of Dr. Marks for four years, the antithesis of barn blind and am practical and realistic to a fault, so I hope you keep that in perspective as you read this.

About halfway through our lesson yesterday, a Dressage lesson which was entirely at the walk and trot, my trainer said, "He's trying to give you more.  Let the reins out an inch and let him really lengthen his neck and come on the bit."  We haven't pressured Contender into that yet, and have been looking for slightly in front of the vertical with engagement from behind.  I did, and he lowered his head exactly where it needed to be, and I felt his back raise (what felt like) several inches.  She  was silent for a few seconds, and then quietly said, "Jen, do you feel that?  Do you feel how much he's swinging through his back?  He's using himself, he's sitting so far back on his hocks, he's working on everything we've been telling him to do and then some."

I'm having a hard time coming up with words for how good his trot felt.  It wasn't a fluke, either, once he got warmed up we had a solid 25 minutes of truly spectacular trot work, and a good 5 of trot work that was that good.  I've never felt anything like that - so connected, so through.  Schwung, the Germans call it, and I've gotten close, but never as close as I got on my green bean last night.  Even on the school horses.

When we were letting him have a nice long rein and stretch at the walk, she was silent for a bit and then said, "He's going to have an incredible trot with some more time.  I really like him."  "Yes," I said, "He's not a blind trier like some horses I've ridden, where they'll try anything, but he takes what I ask and thinks about it and does it when he thinks he's right."  She agreed and said, "I also like that he tells you when he doesn't get it, and doesn't just keep on being confused."  From her, as an incredibly good trainer and especially being from over the pond where Cobs are like Quarter Horses, it meant so much more than it would from someone else.

- Straight lines.  I've been letting him dive in without realizing it.  The arena feels like an oval, so sue me! (Okay really, this is a horrible habit and I'm glad she pointed it out.)  Half-halts on the outside rein as soon as we get around the corner, more stabilization and support on the straights.
- Riding corners with him bending through his ribcage more.  So far, it's been like turning a two by four around a corner.
- Spirals in and out, from a 15m circle to a 10m circle (not as drastic as it sounds, since he's a 13.2hh pony)

Guys...I'm more in love than I ever have been before.  How did I get this lucky?


  1. I am so happy for you. I love when those moments happen. They will stay with you during the rougher times. Now that he has had the "ah ha" break though it will be easier in the future.
    Heres to many more :)

  2. what a great post! i love the tips at the end, and seeing the progress other people are making with their young green horses.

  3. What an awesome moment! If you are getting work like that in his first month with you, imagine what you guys will be like in a few months? :-)

    It is nice to read about real people that work hard to get a horse in the first place and then work hard at their training to get some where. I love your coach - she sounds so knowledgeable!

  4. So happy you were able to connect with your guy. He sounds like a gem!