March 21, 2019

Lesson Wrap-Up: Things Start to Come Together

I've had a couple of really good lessons lately.  I didn't write about the first one because it felt like a "Part I" that I didn't fully understand.  This week I finally got the "Part II" and I feel like I can write about it.

Two weeks ago, my trainer stood next to me, put my right leg in the correct position and pushed it into Connor below my knee, which is where I should be using it.  I tend to use my like...lower calf/heel area?

"Ow," I said.

"Does that hurt?" she asked.

"Well...yeah."  I thought about it for a second.  "The place you want me to use my leg is right below where his barrel pushes my leg out, so it's hard for me to use my leg there, but I'll give it a shot."

This is an overly dramatic example from a year ago, but it's far easier to let my leg hang out in space than it is to actually get it around him, just because of the way we're both conformed. PC: Leah

I did, and it was genuinely difficult but the results were awesome.  We had a fantastic lesson full of legit bend and Connor not running through my right leg.  The thing I noticed is that when I had my leg where Kate helped me place it (with the help of three high school girls and an exercise band, which I sadly had to leave in California, they were very helpful), I was able to use my leg the way my trainer wanted me to, which was extremely effective in fixing some pretty long-standing problems of ours.  When my leg wasn't in "Kate land" I used the wrong parts of my leg and it went to crap.

What is that golden thing in the sky?

I played with this over the weekend.  In my jump saddle it was a heck of a lot easier to get my leg on him, because with shorter stirrups my leg didn't hit him at exactly the wrong place.  But, I still can do it in my Dressage saddle.

Then came this week's lesson.  The TL;DR is that when I:
- manned up and asked my horse to please get to work by shortening my reins and demanding a better walk
- used my leg in the right place
- didn't let him sucker me into using a metric ton of leg (meet my friend, Mr. Tappy)
- didn't pinch with the region right above my knee
- sat deeply and "widely" into the saddle
-  engaged my lats the way Megan taught me
- engaged my core the way Kate taught me
- stayed present in the outside rein when I asked with my leg in the new correct position

He went AWESOME!  We worked on shoulder fore, on more sophisticated half halts, on different gears in the trot, on different gears in the canter (sort of), and he felt SO good in the connection.

14.8!!!!!!!!!!!  Who is this horse?  We were averaging 10-11cm canter elevation on average just a couple of months ago.

We also got a tough life lesson when I let him be done on a trot my trainer wasn't happy with (and I shouldn't have been either) and she had me pick him back up and ride until I got a soft, pliable trot in order to set the tone correctly for the next ride.

Not making excuses for my poor horse training instincts but OMG we were an hour into the lesson by that point and that plus CrossFit had me just dead.  Still no excuse though.

Between that, and really giving myself permission to do things that are not Dressage with him, we are really having a good week!


  1. It always seems like when it’s difficult or painful then you know you’re in the right position lol

  2. Ugh.., short legs on wide horses problems- I feel your pain!

  3. Oh I totally know that feeling you're talking about, where your leg is just stuck out there because of where the barrel point hits you. Amazing how well it works to use the right part of the leg though... even if it's freakin' hard to get it on there. Nice work!

  4. Yah you broke through the plateau!

  5. I love that you're getting so much mileage out of those clinic photos 😂 and yay for a great lesson!!

  6. I have the exact same problem! Before Cupid I had a much bigger bodied quarter horse and it was much easier having my leg on her.