October 25, 2013

Lesson Wrap-Up Friday

It seems like a lot of us are going through a funk right now, and I am no exception.  The weather, my husband's continued fruitless job search that is entering its 5th month, and work getting in the way of seeing Connor at all this week has left me feeling like it takes a monumental effort just to put one foot in front of the other.  Suddenly, it's a week since I last blogged...

The little furball continues to get furrier and furrier as an early winter sets in - it's the earliest it's been this cold (26 this morning) since 1992!  I hope that isn't a predictor of what is to come.

The one bright spot is that my trainer continues to make big adjustments to my position that have led to Connor going really well - both to the left AND to the right.  Last week it was discovering that my torso is always turned to the inside and that my inside leg isn't doing what it needs to do.

This week, it was all sitting trot and hip movement and boy did it suck at first.  I was bouncing all over the place as he pushed hard in the deep, shifty footing of the indoor.  Then she had me drop my stirrups one more hole in my Dressage saddle (that's TWO in the past four weeks.  What is this world (and this former hunt seat rider) coming to?) and drilled me on keeping my hips open and forward, shoulders slightly back, and seat underneath me, with my right leg long and back - it likes to creep up and forward.  Dropping my stirrups a hole really helped, weirdly enough.

After establishing a manageable sitting trot, she had me come up the centerline, 10m circle right, come back onto the centerline long enough to establish left bend, 10m circle left, rinse, repeat.  The fact that he kept bringing his ribcage in reinforced the idea that I needed a lot of inside leg and that my torso needed to be straight over his body.  He was soft, light, and REALLY on my aids - had to be, with circles that small.

Our next exercise was coming up the quarter line on the right rein at sitting trot, LEFT 10m circle toward the rail at the end of the ring (surprise), come out of it traveling parallel to the short side, left 10m circle again, down the other quarterline.  This helped him carry his body straighter, as he was really expecting us to turn right instead of left, and he couldn't bowl through the turn ribcage first.

Finally, we picked up a small canter on a 20m circle, turned up the centerline (again, surprise, Connor!)  cantered straight down the centerline, and downward transition to a very small sitting trot in the last 25% of the centerline (like between H & M) before turning in the opposite direction of the lead we were on.  Here she had me make sure my hips were swinging through, because my right hip would get "stuck" and he would come up the centerline with his hips to one side or the other.

Basically, what all of these surprise! exercises did was get him seriously between my aids and straight, as well as reinforce the fact that my position is so vital to him traveling straight and well, and a lot of his one-sidedness is because I've ridden him one-sidedly.  Now that I'm starting to ride straighter and more effectively, he's becoming more soft and pliable and able to do things like 10m circles in a surprising direction.


  1. Those exercises sound amazing! I'm going to try them with the Fancy Pony (assuming I remember them once I swing a leg over...) and see what they can do for us!
    Seems like shortening days put everyone into a funk, even without the other nonsense going on in our lives. Here's to the winter solstice and the lengthening days to follow!! ;)

  2. I think part of the "funk" is this thing called winter. Tarra and I were just talking tonight about how much we are dreading the change in daylight, not to mention the yucky weather. Hang in there and keep riding your pony when you can. He's sure to make things seem a little bit better.

  3. Funny, I was in a funk in the summer. Now I am more active, riding more, walking more, but I have less time to blog (and to read blogs! eek getting behind!!)

  4. I love those exercises and have definitely used them with Comrade before. They especially work for horses that think they "KNOW" what is happening and anticipate.
    Hopefully my ride time will increase since the summer chores will go away. We hit the 20's too and the horses are in their next level of blanket already.

  5. Thanks for the kind comment on my blog :)
    I think the previous posters are on to something - dark winter nights aren`t overly cheery! Still keeping my fingers crossed for your hubby. Speaking from experience, sometimes it`s hard to find anything, then the next thing you know, you`ve got multiple job offers!
    I love reading about your journey with Connor and it continues to give me inspiration. He`s just the most gorgeous boy and you`re doing such a great job with him.