June 30, 2015

Private XC Lesson, Big Progress!

Connor's breeder told me last night that it makes her sad to visit this blog and not see any updates.  And I am not one to make people sad!  So I'm going to do my best to keep going.

I haven't had a proper Dressage lesson in about a month, so last week for my lesson I came out guns blazing in Dressage tack, ready for a biomechanics beatdown...and then my favorite barn rat said, "Hey, I think she's teaching XC lessons in the big field tonight."

Cue fastest tack change ever - XC vest, breastplate, saddle, girth, bridle, and fly bonnet.  Favorite barn rat was impressed.

Favorite barn rat multitasking by keeping Connor entertained (he's licking her hand) and texting while I was in the bathroom.

The lesson started out - no joke - with me breezing my Welsh Cob around the field like a racehorse, bridged reins and all, until he got tired.  He came out with so much energy, there was no way the lesson was going to be productive unless I took some of the edge off.  In my warmup, when I asked for a canter depart, he bucked so hard my neck snapped, which has never happened before.

(Found out later he'd been in all day due to heavy rain. Don't blame the little guy a bit.)

It really took five or so minutes of cantering and galloping before he stopped accelerating anytime he got the chance.  Toward the end, he really flattened out into a true ground covering gallop, which delighted my trainer, who says the canter and gallop will always be his weakest gaits and he needs to figure it out for himself and get comfortable in those gaits more often.

The best part about all that was, he was at his worst and I still never felt unsafe.  On a lot of horses, that would have been a lunging situation.

We ended up having the BEST lesson!  The highlights were:
1. Getting a true collected canter, for a long period of time, that enabled me to take the up bank, do a tight rollback in the direction of whatever lead he landed on, back to the upbank.  With a bigger canter, that would not have been possible.
2. Cantering the down bank for both of our first times ever - and it felt so smooth compared to trotting it!
3. Cantering the faux ditch for both of our first times ever, and that also felt smooth.
4. Cantering the down bank and doing a less severe but pretty small rollback immediately to canter the ditch - and not even blinking.

I came out of that lesson beaming.  Every moment I ever questioned that horse being an eventer melted away.  Sure, we have been working on those things for years, and I'm sure he'll find lions under down banks at other facilities, and I'll have to keep my guard up forever, but he CAN do these things without scrambling.

What a good boy!  Bigtime bath for the sweaty guy after all that cantering and jumping:


  1. That is awesome!! What a great feeling. :-)

  2. Sounds like an excellent and valuable lesson!

  3. Awesome that the lesson turned out great! I'm happy for you.

  4. I love it when something you've been working so hard for clicks. It's the best feeling. Congrats!

  5. ahhh what fun! sounds like Connor was ready to GO haha - and not even ditches or banks could stop him :D

  6. Sounds like the welsh dragon came out! Glad you had a great ride!

  7. So good to hear from you. Sounds like a super fun lesson!

  8. So awesome!! You guys are just getting better and better together and it's so exciting to see!

  9. So awesome to see you guys really pulling it together! Conner reminds me a little of my SB Copper, he might get fast and crazy but I never really feel 'unsafe' on him... A bit nervous, yes, but I know he'd never do anything to purposely hurt me. :)

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  10. So glad to see him doing well! Hes adorable