August 31, 2013

Save the Outside Shoulder, Save the World

Heroes reference, anyone?

Beautiful morning for a ride.
The two big things that Nancy pointed out and then helped fix on Monday were my bracing with the right leg, and his outside shoulder popping out constantly.  Fixing those two things led to some great work out of Connor, and Nancy was truly impressed with the progress we've made.  "Well yeah, you should be leading by 10 points after Starter Dressage with work like that!" (referencing GDHT) were her exact words.  Felt good to get that kind of validation!

After watching that ride, my trainer gave me much the same lesson today, but over fences, and I learned that I've had too much inside bend especially on gymnastic lines.  Inside bend + popped shoulder = crooked horse over fences.  Opening the inside rein and keeping him stick-straight in the outside rein while keeping my inside leg on around the corner led to a feeling over fences I have not gotten with him before: that he wasn't going to get "stuck".  I always feel like I have to cowboy up the last couple of strides or he'll break, but it turns out a lot of that was due to the way I was riding him, not the way he actually goes.

The pretty princess taking
his pre-ride pee with one leg way out to the side.
It's hard for him to bring that inside hind through when he's working properly, so he likes to avoid that by traveling with his shoulder to the outside.  I had to pay attention to it every stride, because if I let up for a second, he would pop it out.  It's subtle, but correcting it made a big difference in the way he went.  Inside leg there for him to bend around, half-halts on the outside rein.

Interestingly, getting the outside shoulder like that snapped him out of his usual second-half slump, where we lose the lightness we had the in the first half of the lesson after a break, so I wonder if maybe he's tired of working properly by then, and has been taking advantage of me by throwing his shoulder around in the second half.  Some of it is still conditioning, but it's something to think about.

More training braids.
He's sexy and he knows it.
Baby also took out his first fence today, haha.  Growing up so quickly!  I gave him a good ride and he made what my trainer called a "green horse judgment error" at the first element of a 2 element gymnastic and didn't snap his front end up in time to clear it, so we went through it.  I made him jump the second element anyway and his ears were swiveling back and forth as he tried to figure out why the pole was chasing us.  The good boy learned from his mistake, though, and was tight and careful the next time we went to it!


  1. That's lucky that it's taken him so long to take out a fence! Hopefully it wasn't too traumatic for him.

    1. A little bit of luck and a lot of natural caution and body awareness, I think. The same traits that make him a reactive ride also make him aware of his surroundings and his own body. I think he came out of it okay, he jumped well the rest of the lesson. Good to learn that things explode when you hit them now rather than later!

  2. Lol about the pre ride pee! Jack always had to pee before I got on him. Silly boys!

    1. Haha, silly boys indeed! Last week Connor had to pee during the ride but wouldn't at first, even when I got off to give him a chance, and was just slogging through the lesson. Glad he did it before this week - and in the wash rack, not the crossties!