May 10, 2016

Picking Up Poop Leads to Best Trot Ever

Okay so, this post is a month old, and I thought I had posted it, I even think I've referenced it in posts since then.  Oops.  Must've hit 'Save' instead of 'Publish'.  I'm out of content anyway and working on a customer site this week so...enjoy this really old post.

What you've basically been reading for the past three days is a day-by-day lesson recap.  We're finally to last Sunday's lesson.  Remember, our last issue had been the right half pass, and the right shoulder.

I had already warmed up and Connor was going really well, when the girl from the lesson in front of me left and didn't pick up her horse's poop, which was on the rail, and I wasn't about to either not use the rail or pulverize poop into our really really ridiculously good looking footing.

Our footing.

I offered to get off and pick it up, and let my trainer do some right half-pass in hand with Connor while I got the poop.  She's not in a position to be lifting heavy things or riding (or drinking with us, sad face) right now, if you know what I mean, and she's frustrated to not be able to get on and feel through things like the right half pass with him.  So she jumped at the chance to feel it out in hand.

If only I could nap as hard and as indiscriminately as our barn cat.

That ended up being an excellent decision, because she quickly felt why we struggled the day before.  "He's interpreting your inside [right] rein aid all wrong.  I give it, and he contracts the muscles on the right side of his neck, shortening it and curling it in, but never shifts the weight in his shoulders over where we need it, on the left."

I watched for another fifteen minutes while she asked, again and again, moving the reins as a pair, to get his weight shifted over to the left side of his body and get him into the outside (left) rein.  Several minutes into it, I saw his body start to change.  I saw him shift his weight left and his cadence start to change from frantically falling right, to carefully placing his feet.

I'm out of pictures, but check this out: Calumet Farm makes its own Bourbon now.

When she handed him back to me, I felt a massive, massive difference.  His weight was not over the right shoulder, but evenly centered, and he was interpreting my rein aids totally differently than I had ever felt. I told my trainer so, and she was so pleased with her ability to make a difference with him even though she won't be riding for another few months. She deserved it, too, it was amazing!

She told me to use the reins as a pair, and to use them to ask him to shift the weight in his shoulders as needed.  Specifically, to the right, I took both reins left briefly to ask him to shift his weight, while using my right leg to ask him to bend, and moved them back before he actually initiated the movement so that he had somewhere to put his left shoulder.  It required me to be really quick with my aids, because it was in the moment of giving that he would feel the right reaction.

The dream team.  Fun fact: We're pretty much the same age.

Giving me that directive to use my reins like that was a huge turning point, and we had the best trot we've ever gotten the rest of the lesson.  To the point that, for a while, my trainer just sat there smiling and let me cruise. He was so balanced, and felt so good.  We went around the arena doing shoulder in and throwing in 10m circles every so often, in sitting trot, with perfect balance.

"Now THAT is a trot you can do something with.  Anything could come out of that trot.  This is what we need to move forward.  This is your position being more solid and his balance being correct."

After a stretch of five lessons in ten days, it was awesome to come out on the other side with a breakthrough like that.  THIS is why I don't mind being forced to take two lessons a week.

Also, this is why I don't mind my board increase: Outdoor arena in phase 1 of being expanded by 10 feet on the short side, and 12 feet on the long side.  Heck yeah.


  1. That sounds like a great lesson! I love breakthroughs like that.

  2. "a trot you can do something with" is like... my goal in life haha. sounds like a great feeling!!

  3. Break through! Sounds like a great lesson. I need a coach like that!

  4. This sounds like an amazing lesson!