January 13, 2024

Lessons with Kate

Connor and I have started taking lessons again.


I had been feeling the itch for a while. Not to achieve any goals, I just miss learning. There's nothing like being surprised and delighted by the sudden shift in perspective or feel that a good lesson gives you, and I need to remember to find the joy in horses especially this time of year. 


Connor has been going well under saddle - not often, and not intensely, but well. I have been approaching his rides from more of a rehab perspective (even though he's not injured), focusing on making sure his crooked body is in as best alignment as possible and not forcing anything. But it wasn't until my barnmate used him in her weekly CGP lesson a few weeks ago that I was like, wow, okay Connor, I see you.

Connor got drafted into this lesson because he bit my barnmate's horse right where the saddle goes. Actions have consequences, Connor.

I was struck by how relaxed he looked in the contact and how his neck is not upside down. To be honest, he never looked like this during his Dressage career. Even CGP, who had not seen him under saddle in nearly two years, was almost shocked speechless at how good he looked and complimented the way he was going several times. I started to entertain the idea that I was doing something right with my slow, patient, horse-focused approach.

But as much as I love and respect her and will ride and compete with her again someday, CGP is not right for us right now. I don't really have a good way to articulate why that is, so I won't, I will just say that I knew instinctively that longtime blogger and friend Kate was who I needed to be riding with right now. 

I'm two lessons in and haven't ridden yet, and I'm loving it!

Someone said it looked like she was teaching a lesson here and I cannot unsee it, lol

Partially because I'm nursing a back injury and partially because I am fascinated by Kate's groundwork theories having seen her work with my horses in the past, I wanted to start with groundwork. Kate thinks and feels and learns with the horses in a way that I deeply admire and that does not come naturally to me. 

To describe it in a phrase, it's like practical natural horsemanship - if you deeply understand the horse as a horse and use that to work with and not against the horse in a competitive sport context, that's sort of how I view Kate's teaching. I think a lot of trainers THINK they do that, but at the end of the day, it's nothing like what Kate is doing. And two lessons in, it's already changing the way I interact with not only the horses, but also the people and dogs in my life too.

More to come!


  1. Kate sounds perfect for you. I’m excited to hear more.

  2. That's so cool! I would love to know more, I'm interested in that sort of groundwork, and I totally agree that I'm sure many people (myself included) think they know what they are doing and why, but aren't quite there.

  3. I can really relate to changing trainers for what feels right in the moment, despite the relationship you have with the trainer. I love my lessons with the instructor I rode with for L but I really wanted to focus on the classical correct path to start my horse so that’s why we ride with who we do now. I’d love to here more about Kate’s approach! I’ve been doing a lot of reading and watching of Amy Skinner and it sounds like they both are kinda on the same wavelength.

  4. I really like how you know what you and your horse need at any given point in time and you find a way to get that. I am looking forward to reading more about your current work with Katie; sounds interesting and probably something I should look into while I'm figuring out what brings out the best in Al.

  5. Is this Kate of A Year With Horses? Her blog was fascinating and I remember her horses and how she worked with them.