March 7, 2014

The Magic is Back

The whole time my trainer was gone, I did what felt like productive floundering.  I figured out a couple of things about myself, such as the left shoulder thing, and learning that my shoulders are always turned to the right over my hips.  But Connor got less sharp with every ride and was never on my aids while she was gone.

Muggin' for cookies.  Treats = insta-birdie.

But she's back, and she took us from blah to better-than-it's-been-in-a-month amazing in 45 minutes.  I caught myself thinking about how different that ride was from all the rides I had while she was gone.  I'm the same person, riding the same horse, but when she teaches me, we may as well be someone else.  Magic.  This is why I pay her, right?

(It's gonna get real word-vomity in here, but I kept this blog after college because I have a hard time remembering what my trainer says after a lesson, and it helps me to write it down later.)

We started out with leg yields, but seamlessly flowed into...speed control? work when she saw we needed it. He was running through my aids at the leg yield, and I was not riding enough from my core to stop it.  It was genuinely frustrating, and I was down on myself.  She had me try and pick up the trot and think about the first step being a half halt, because she said his shoulders get running away from him and from me in the first step, and if we can package the first step and tell the shoulders to wait for the hindquarters, I'll have the control I would otherwise lose.

It worked exactly how she said it would, so we mixed that in with using just my core to make him almost walk, and when I felt that the very next millisecond he would walk, to move him back up into trot again.  She also had me think up up up in my core when I asked for the trot.  He started to come onto my aids in this exercise.

Let's break this up with a blurry leaning wash rack picture.

The last half of the lesson was the real magic.  We worked on a 20m circle at the trot, to the pesky left direction. She had me do a turn on the forehand, and then think turn on the forehand as I got going.  She pointed out that I often feel like I have to carry my reins slightly to the outside because he is not in my outside rein or listening to my inside leg, and when I do use one aid or the other, he bowls through the opposing aid.  My reins should be slightly to the inside, with him filling the outside rein,

She said "Every time he makes you feel like you have to carry your reins to the outside, what you really need is a turn on the forehand.  You don't have to come down to the walk to do one, but think turn on the forehand in the trot."  It's "get him on your aids" and "get him between you inside leg and outside rein" told in a way that she knows will click in my brain.  There is a lot to be said for a trainer getting to know you over the years.

That, combined with me being firm in the outside rein and REALLY asking for some jaw softness with the inside rein gave me my first true left bend in months.  I firmly asked for what I wanted, and it felt like I was pulling his jaw around until it softened, but as one of my favorite people said (outside of a teaching setting!) "sometimes it's just telling people to pull his head to the left and kick him".  That is exactly what I needed to do, once or twice, until he softened around both my leg and hand, and then he was really truly bending and really truly on my aids.

You made it!  Here's a happy Husky in what's hopefully the last snowfall of the winter.


  1. Trainers=magic! I completely agree. I always struggle if I go to long between lessons. Sounds like you had a fantastic ride though!

  2. Trainers are amazing! They are worth their weight in gold!

  3. I love lessons like what you just described! And I'm glad for the word vomit - I'm always eager to hear about how other people work through problems that remind me of my own. :)

  4. Definitely why we pay for lessons.

  5. Love trainers. I'm getting excited to schedule my first lesson of the year. :D

  6. Magic! That is how I described my ride today. Magical rides are the best!