April 2, 2021

Lesson Wrap-Up: Banana Shaped

I had my second virtual lesson with my GP trainer on Wednesday, and I STILL have no media because Pivo can't figure out the bug with Samsung's new flagship phone (which by their own admittance, should be the poster child for the right phone to have for Pivo).

Sigh. Anyway.

You could boil this lesson down to "use the inside rein less, use the outside rein more". Starting out, he was a little checked out, so she had me ask for haunches in and then haunches out on the 20m circle at the walk. She said eventually she wanted his front feet to stay on the same track, but not to expect to get there today.

I promise at some point I will collect my thoughts and write in-depth about Pilates, Liz!


We started on the left, and, as usual, he was pushing through my right side and tipping his withers to the right, like when I put him into either HI or HO, the first step he took was always to the move the right fore right. She identified that I was overusing my inside rein and underusing my inside leg. She had me take up more outside rein contact, move my outside leg back, and apply my inside leg at the girth, and get aggressive about it.

Within a few minutes, with a much more respectful pony, we were doing this at the trot. Then we moved to use the whole arena for HI/HO (really just thinking about it) at the canter and counter canter, where that whole outside rein/outside leg thing really came home to roost.

We did the short side on the left (true) lead, and then immediately came across the diagonal to start CC to the right, and we stayed on CC for probably 3 laps of the arena as she worked through fixing my biomechanics. She had me sit on the left seatbone, keep the outside leg behind the girth, and then kept saying "more outside rein, more outside rein, left shoulder back, more outside rein."

"F is for friends who do stuff together..."


When I FINALLY got the amount of left rein applied that she wanted, suddenly my definition of "a straight horse" changed. I would have told you he was straight before I got the outside rein contact right, but once he was properly in my outside rein, suddenly the "inside rein horse" I had before felt banana shaped.

This had the effect of making the counter canter very balanced and rideable, where before it had always been a "Jesus take the wheel" movement for us. And once we had that, we started playing with moving his body parts around, just slightly.


She said what I had just done was what she and her coach (OLGW) do every day in their warmups, although I know it was oversimplified. Can I move the body parts around, and then "lots of counter canter, until it becomes boring, and then BOOM you're going GP!" Haha. She also reiterated something she's said in the past which is that this is why skipping Second Level is a mistake, because movements like CC and the TOH serve as diagnostics for fundamentals that need to be in place before you move up. Just doing them is not enough, but if you're able to do them WELL, you're in a lot better place as you go to Third and Fourth.

So it became really clear that in overusing the inside rein, especially to the right, I have created a banana-shaped pony, and that has to get fixed before things like flying changes are even remotely possible.


  1. I used TOH a lot to get Dante off his front and off whatever leg he's leaning on. It's nice to hear that is a diagnostic lol

    1. Yeah! She said that to me last December too. She said I should be at least touching on TOH every day because in order to do it well, a lot of fundamentals have to be there and accessible, so it can show you what needs work.

  2. I too overuse my inside rein going to the right. I blame it on being left handed but Shanea still expects me to fixit. 😁

    1. Haha!! If only we got a medical dispensation for our handedness.

  3. Add me to the "using too much inside rein" club, with a dabble of dropping outside hand.

  4. I have had this exact lesson soooo many times! My horse is showing at the equivalent of about 3rd level now, and learning the equivalent of 4th level movements. In our first few lessons around 1st level, though, coach had us doing shoulder-in without flexion, haunches-out on a circle, and turn-on-the-forehand squares... with a loopy inside rein. It was so unbearably hard and we did it over and over until I was ready to cry. But it worked. When that finally clicked for me, it felt like a whole world of dressage suddenly opened up in front of me! I still often need refreshers, lol, but at least now those refreshers are renvers in counter canter instead of TOF on a square in walk.