August 8, 2017

My Name is Connor and I'm So Glad My Rider is Finally Learning How to Ride

Connor and I had a pretty terrible ride on Saturday, by this summer's standards.  I could not get the inside left hind engaged for the life of me.

I knew it wasn't engaged because my instinct was to use too much inside rein, which my Dressage trainer NK calls Connor's "smoke screen" for not wanting to engage the left hind.

Ugh, lady, get your sh*t together

I also knew that he wasn't just being stubborn or stiff or "not wanting" to bend left.  It was probably something in my body that was blocking him.  I actually got off and worked it in hand before calling it a day - we were both pretty frazzled at the end.

SO much less fat than my last confo shot

On Sunday, I aimed for a nice, relaxed ride just to get his body moving.  I tried for softness in my body, in my hands - and what do you know, the left bend came so easily, I didn't even have to work at it.  100% change from the day before.

Since I had my Franklin ball epiphany, my rides have been fantastic, but it still was taking longer than I thought it should to get him warmed up and on my aids.  I knew there was something else missing, and had noticed that he would soften and come on my aids when I "stopped trying" partway through a ride.  But what happened when I stopped trying...

After Sunday's ride, and then especially last night's ride, I'm sure it's in my elbows.  I have made a lot of progress with my hard hands, but I still tend to ride with reins too long and a tendency to hold back in my elbows rather than giving forward.  (My favorite visual is that the reins are sticks that I have to push them forward rather than hold back.)

When I came out on Monday focusing on that (which also requires tight shoulder blades, an upright core and my "Franklin ball" seat), he softened over his back and came onto my aids faster than ever before.

BO's put a bottle of wine with a helium balloon attached outside one of the boarders stalls and Connor actually half turned around in the crossties to keep  an eye on the evil floating demon.

I wanted to write this post to remind myself that it's almost never that the Connor is stubborn, or "doesn't wanna play", or isn't interested in bending left, or "just takes a long time to warm up."  It's all these almost imperceptible things that I do with my body that tell him to do the opposite of what I want him to do (which is what happened on Saturday.)

I'm never more clued in to that stuff than I am right now, but it still takes constant vigilance and a "look at yourself before you look at the horse" mentality to stay on top of it.


  1. Teamwork for the win - and amen to the last two paragraphs! ❤️

  2. Oh, I can relate to this. Struggling with the left side on Emi right now and I'm sure it's if only I could figure out what I'm doing wrong!

  3. These days, if T isn't "doing something right" it's because he's screaming at me to stop blocking him from trying to do what I ask. I swear, our horses must all have the patience of saints. I need to invest in more cookies.

  4. I also love the last two paragraphs. I swear that Katai has LOVED both of my last instructors because she knows that they help me ride better and therefore make her life easier :)

  5. This is my mantra these days...youre ahead of the game if you know where your struggles come from!