August 5, 2021

Lesson Wrap-Up: Standing Up Straight

Last night in my lesson, she asked what I'd been working on, and I said after finally getting some video, I noticed he'd been running through me in the ToH again, and that the inside hind wasn't marching enough. Really, the lack of inside hind engagement was obvious everywhere and I was trying to remember to keep it active.

New bit is here. Haven't cut the bit guards off bc #lazy. Also the electrical tape fell down my reins like 6 months ago and I still haven't cut that off either. #lazy

We started out with ToH where she quickly got me back on track in terms of the timing of the aids required to keep them active and fluid. In the past, when he was truly running through me, she had had me think one step sideways/one step backwards, but this time she had me think one step sideways (outside aids), one step forward (inside leg) even though his body wasn't actually moving FORWARD. And I was to keep the sideways steps small - he loves to evade by taking huge steps with the front legs.

Tried to get a pretty picture of him in the sunlight afterwards and he was like "...nah."

After that, we moved onto the exercise we'd spend the rest of the lesson on, which was collected canter on a square with a canter/walk tx and then a quarter ToH to change direction in each corner before picking up the canter again (sometimes we threw in a ToF too just to keep on his toes). She called this an "advanced Second Level exercise".

At first, Connor's brain melted out of his ears a bit. He was throwing body parts in every direction in an attempt to not do the exercise the way I wanted him to, and I was shutting him down so he got annoyed with me. She had me come off the circle and let him canter forward for a while, but in a balanced counter canter so he had something to think about, and after that we had a little more brain to work with.

I gotta be honest, when I first heard her describe this exercise I was like well this is going to suck, and I almost said out loud "I don't know how well this is going to go..." and then I was like "Brain! Stop being a weenie! Maybe it'll be fine"


It was fine.

Milk moustache!

Not only was it fine, we found another level of sophistication in the ToH when I thought I was riding a small circle and she was like "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOW now THAT is a ToH!". Noted - I need to use more outside thigh. And we also found another level of sophistication in the c/w when I softened my elbows, and again when she told me to nudge his belly into the downwards to encourage him to keep his back lifted and give me a place to sit into the transition.

Blue sky, green grass, freshly dragged ring, and a power line pole coming out of my horse's head, lol

On the right lead, I asked her about his propensity to go around with his withers tipped to the inside  (right) while on the right lead canter, and also while diving his breastplate down and overbending. He does this on the lunge too, so I know that's not just me, and it makes the c/w unnecessarily hard that direction.

She fixed that by having me pretend my left (outside) leg was the inside leg and my right (inside) rein was the outside rein. Not to counterbend him, just to use those two aids together. Like magic, he stood up in his withers and gave me the straightest right lead canter steps I've ever felt from him, which made the c/w that much easier.

I've been doing this virtual lesson thing for six months, so I should be used to this by now, but I still end every lesson absolutely stunned at what all we're able to accomplish virtually!


  1. Ha; you have a unicorn in that last photo! You make me itch to start taking virtual lessons, but like I've said, with my dry, dusty arena we'd have visibility issues. Hopefully there won't be too much to "fix" when Stella and I can finally access some professional help!

  2. Michelle beat me to saying that Connor is a unicorn, lol! I'm definitely going to try that canter square exercise - sounds fantastic.