December 30, 2020

Boot Camp Week: Tuesday

This week is Connor's last week at CGPs. Originally, I had planned on staying a week toward the end of this full training and taking a bunch of lessons, but between COVID and my, um, high energy new doggo, that plan got shelved in favor of me driving over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week for lessons. It's long days and a boatload of driving, but it's worth it.

Husband: "YOUR DOG escaped every time I put her in the backyard today, please take her to the barn or something."

On Tuesday (yesterday) it was a lesson extravaganza. First up was Mary on Connor, then I had a lesson on Aeres (which I'll write about later), then after a long break (and a trip to Dover), I had a lesson on Connor myself.

IDK who needs to know this but Dover's house brand has paisley silicone full seats


Watching the Mary lesson was good for me. Mary is a very educated H/J rider, but Dressage is not her thing, so she asked me if she could take a lesson on him before he came home so she could understand the way he was taught. 

CGP gave her what was basically a "first ride with Mary Wanless" lesson (all the MW people in the audience nod their heads), and Mary described it as "feeling like I was driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic". It was really good for me to hear CGP explain why certain biomechanical things were important especially on Connor in such detail.

CGP demonstrating the difference between the mechanics of a H/J post and a Dressage post.

Despite her feeling like a "drunken monkey" up there, he went really well for her. It struck me how much he knows now, that he can take someone who doesn't know Dressage at all and at least go around in a straight and level First Level frame. In fact, seeing how well he went for her without her really doing anything to shape his body besides sit well made me wonder if I was somehow doing too much to him.

My horse can teach people Dressage now

As if reading my mind, my lesson later that day ended up being about exactly that. "You're doing too much, your aids are too loud. You're riding him the way you used to ride him and he's a different horse now, you have to be a lot more subtle to ride him."

It was about halfway through the lesson that she said that, and suddenly I had a completely different ride. He was soft and fluffy but firm in the contact, and easily directed with just my thighs, even for things that were hard before like 10m canter circles.


Part of the reason she harped on this was that she had me doing SI with mixed results, largely because I was pulling on the inside rein in both directions. She does not pull punches when it comes to telling me what I'm doing wrong, and I LOVED hearing things like "No - that would score a 3, and here's why" or "That can only be a maximum of 5 because it has too much neck bend" and then "OKAY, THAT was a seven, now we're getting there."

And there's no video evidence of the SIs because #pivothings

Things really started to come together when she told me to think about putting my left shoulder forward, because I'm STILL riding with my left hand behind my right hand. "When you pull on the left rein, it makes the haunches go right. And the left side is his hollow side to begin with."


And that was just Day 1.


  1. He looks SO amazing!!!! It has been really cool to read the updates but I can’t even imagine how exciting it has been for you to watch his growth.

  2. Awww I'm sad that his time at boarding school is over because you have shared some really great stuff from the experience!