November 3, 2021

Lesson Wrap-Up: No Splatting

The day after I clipped Connor, Monday evening after work, I made the four hour roundtrip to drop Connor off at CGP's for flying changes bootcamp.

Connor in his "dorm room". Thanks T for the photo!

It was harder this time than it was last year. Maybe it was having seen him tote baby Annie around the day before, or how much I've grown to appreciate this horse beyond any competition goals we could possibly achieve together, but whatever it was, leaving him there looking over the stall grate was incredibly difficult.

Miss this face already. Photo by T.

 Buuuuut just a few days later I was back for a lesson. This time, with friends!

Guess whose freaking GORGEOUS best deal of the century Double D this is

T was there with her half-Welsh Cob mare (by Cardi) Karma, and it's thanks to her that I have media for this post, because I do not recommend oversleeping and forgetting your Pivo. I won't write about T's lessons myself, but I was personally grateful to get to watch them, as I haven't seen CGP work with many young horses yet, so it was great to see just how much progress T and Karma made in a single lesson with her!

I don't care how small your horse is, I will make it look huge

Just like last year, after three training rides with CGP I could already tell a huge difference. After she had him for two weeks in July, his canter was effortlessly uphill and it felt like there was nothing I could do to break it. After our USDF season ended in August though, it got flatter and flatter. But after three training rides, it was right back to where it was in July.

So far, all she'd worked on is strengthening and improving the canter, and after focusing on nothing but biomechanics through September and October, it felt great to work on Connor again. The focus of this lesson was getting him to step up with his hind legs when I closed my legs, rather than striking off first with the forelegs and leaving his hind legs behind.

This was.


Connor is a pulling breed. I've talked a lot here about how he's most comfortable pulling his body along with his bodyweight over his chest. He likes to strike off from the halt into the walk by moving his forelegs first, and we were basically asking him not to do that. 

You can see in the GIF above how badly he wants to walk forward with his forelegs instead of stepping the hind feet up closer to the forelegs. This is physically difficult for him, with his hind legs hung off his hindquarters in a way that's more conducive for pulling than pushing, but not something he's completely incapable of.

Would so much rather look at the sexy pony in the mirror


He did finally get it, and when he did, what do you know, suddenly those simple changes were just there.

I need to be able to get them this easily all the time

"This is the type of carriage and canter he needs in order to do flying changes, otherwise he's just going to splat into those the way he likes to splat into the simples," she said.

You mean...I don't just get to wave the white flag over simples and forget they exist forever? Sigh. Like I know it's the right move but sometimes I just don't want to eat my broccoli, you know?

(Actually I love broccoli, but I'm trying to make a point, okay!)

Trot's not looking too bad either

The quality of the canter and therefore the success/failure of the simple changes also had quite a bit to do with where I was sitting in the saddle. I don't sit on my outside seatbone enough in the canter, which has a lot to do with me, and potentially something to do with some body soreness on his part. More on that soon. But when I actually sat deeply on him, suddenly the simples got a lot easier, and we had good success with them overall.

Happy boy with his new friend, Fish

That would be the last time I see him for two weeks and the longest I'll go without seeing him this whole autumn, as Nick and I went out of town for the weekend for the first time in ages!


  1. I also love broccoli but I cannot canter-walk to save my life and I'm certain it will come down to that at some point. I'll be held hostage only released if I can execute a reasonable canter-walk and I'll just need to throw my hands in the air and accept death.

  2. I feel that Jane would also tell me 'no splatting'. I love that phrase.

  3. This... Is basically every ride on Bast for the last 3 months and the next 3 months and forever. 😭 It's so hard!

  4. Somehow I missed that Karma was half welsh, how fun! I love that you guys got to hang out together and learn stuff!
    Also, my canter departs are embarrassingly broken, and I think the problem is me...