December 31, 2021

Connor's First Week Back

Connor's been home for nearly a week now, and I've been making myself get back into the routine of riding.

It's not that I don't want to ride, it's that I almost don't remember how! I've never gone that long without riding before, and the motions of fitting it into my schedule, tacking up, getting on, structuring each ride and structuring the week feel so foreign to me. Then add in the fact that I'm having to re-learn how to ride my own horse again, and it's intimidating.


So my goals are low. Figure out a schedule that allows me to work both horses. Check.

I cannot mentally handle riding on Mondays and Fridays. It's not ideal since she moved my lessons to Tuesdays, but we'll give it a shot and see how it works.

Get on every day I'm scheduled to. Check.

May not know how to ride this anymore, but I'm on it!

Ride. Doesn't matter how long. Check.

I do not value matching, exhibit A, lol. Trying on the polos he got from my sister for Christmas.

That's it, those are the goals.

They're working so far, if only for slowly reducing my saddle soreness, wow.

How about that canter walk, eh?

As far as actual riding goes, I'm giving myself the mental space to screw him up again while also picking a couple of key things I cannot screw up, that she's given me the tools to stay on top of. For example, one of them is: Is the top of his neck longer than the bottom of his neck? (Or, alternatively, is his underneck engaged, disengaging his topline?)

This is SO important. Look at his neck shape here. He doesn't have the ability to sit like this and lift his shoulders like his if the underneck is sticking out, period, end of story, which goes somewhat against his conformation as a pulling breed.

To check: Does he follow the bit left and right if you ask him to, in any moment? Can you change the bend at any moment?

What does it feel like when it's going wrong: Movements that require him to lift his thoracic sling suddenly feel difficult. He doesn't follow the bit left and right.

How to fix it: Raise (don't pull) the hand of the stiff rein and apply leg on the same side until he softens. 

That's the type of "If A, then B" thinking that I need from her in order to be successful on my own. I'm sure her own toolkit for dealing with it is much more sophisticated, but if I can do that much between lessons, we can keep generally moving in a positive direction with what she did with him last fall.

I should mention that what I wrote above WILL NOT(!!!!) apply to every horse, and actually changes quite often. It's been part of a long progression of getting him to let go with his underneck and also fix the ways I screwed him up in the past. When I got on in my lesson last Sunday, she corrected me for using a fix she herself had told me to use in the previous lesson. "He's past that now," she said, "The kink in the hose used to be just a neck thing but now it's really a ribcage thing, he's getting stuck further back so we have to change how we fix the stiffness."


So, that's the fix for now, but it won't stay that way forever.

The other thing I'm paying close attention to not screwing up is the contact, but that's a story for another post.

It's good to have him back!


  1. I always find it hard to get back into the swing of things after time off. That canter walk transition- Wow.

  2. Glad he's home and your back in the saddle! I'm sure you two will be back in sync very soon.