January 1, 2013

2012 in Review, Part II

As I said in Part 1, I won't always do such an extensive year-in-review every year. Since this year was my first full year with Connor, my first time bringing up a green horse, and it was so full of rapid progress as well as months of crushing setbacks, I wanted to do a more thorough look back.  Here's Part II.


It continued to be so hot we canceled lessons, so my trainer started putting rides on Connor in exchange since it was obvious that I couldn't get him where he needed to be in the canter.  They made a huge difference in the walk and trot immediately, with small but steady progress on his canter.

The improved canter work helped a lot over fences, but we mainly focused on Dressage, starting with another Nancy K lesson in which it became obvious that the left bend issue was bad, really bad.  I realized that my Beval didn't fit him anymore, and sold it and started using my embarrassing old Collegiate.  At the end of the month, it was one crushingly bad lesson after another, as he refused to bend left and I ended every lesson with an aching left bicep. I was told to take a break from riding and exclusively do a specific lunging program and bending groundwork until further notice to work on the muscle imbalance.

We experimented with a grazing muzzle after he developed a frequent urination problem.
I was on the lunging-only program for most of the month, even in lessons, but finally started riding again toward the end of the month, and it was clear that the lunging was helping.  I bought a Stackhouse off eBay to replace the Beval, which got a workout as I rode in another two-day CJF clinic.  On Day 1, she pointed out that he has a hard time sending information from his brain to his feet, which helped shape my dealings with him from that point on.  On Day 2, he jumped me out of the tack over and over and she exclaimed that he has a ton of jump in him.  (Still didn't come off.  Barely.)

Eating at a restaurant with hitching posts on our trail ride!
 We showed in the WPCSA show at Octoberfest, and his complete lack of enthusiasm for anything, even the show, finally convinced me that he was fried, I was friend and neither of us were having fun anymore after working so hard on Dressage and the left bending thing.  So we backed way off and did fun things like trail riding through Brown County with the barn, cantered down the grassy track at the barn, and had all of our lessons and rides in the grassy field instead of the arena.  

It took complete exhaustion and tears from me, but Connor and I had a huge, massive breakthrough on November 1 as lateral movement and insisting that he not be a bully contributed to the best lesson we've ever had.  The next week, when she took my stirrups away, we discovered a bunch of bad habits that were contributing to his issues and worked on them.  I (gulp) jumped him by myself, and rode a table bareback when I visited Austen at Thanksgiving.

The Table.  (Boomer)
I did eventually clip the hindquarter area down to match the forelegs.

He was finally actually ready for more advanced Dressage work, ("advanced"), so she added haunches in and transitions between haunches-in and shoulder-in to our lessons.  This didn't really click until she put a few training rides on him and then suddenly he got really, really good at that and he developed a gorgeous uphill canter all of a sudden.  Our warm December made it clear that my initial apron clip wasn't enough this year, so Austen came over to help me do a high trace for the first time.  Then, predictably, it got cold.


  1. What a crazy year. It's always nice to look back and see the real progress that has been made...even when it seems like it was slow. Connor is adorable and I enjoy following your adventures. Hopefully I will have a welsh cob someday soon too!

  2. So much progress! Sounds like an awesome close to the year!

  3. So much has happened over the year and by the sounds of it you guys have come a long way! Can't wait to hear that this year has to bring!

  4. Quite a year! I love these posts--so much fun to see progress laid out like this. :)

  5. Thanks, all of you! I'm so glad I'm able to share all this with you guys and get ideas - I could write a blog post about that, too.