Friday, April 5, 2024

Fix It Forward

I have no pictures of me riding, but a few from his training ride and some randoms sprinkled in to break up my text wall. 

Monday Goggles and I headed down to JT's for our first lesson in... a while... we last lessoned on February 29th. We had a grand total of two lessons in February. Compared to my prior usual schedule of once weekly lessons, this was quite a change. We did get down to JT's once in March, but it was for a training ride. The lesson in February that prompted the training ride in March was a bit disheartening. We were tackling the liver pool which has spooked him for a looooooong time. But he would.not.stop. bucking after going over the jump. He felt wholly untrained pretty much the whole ride. 

Goggles being a pest, ft. DAPPLES!

Then our chill school at Sweet Dixie also involved some bucking after fences, although much less. More concerning, there was a solid refusal on his part to a BN cabin that I thought was within our capability. It was spitting rain and the ground was WET, and I didn't press the issue. 

He was a bit much while tacking up. Not actually anxious, just READY TO GO!

But... but... the lesson Monday was AMAZING!!! We started with changes of direction and bend while warming up. She was really pleased with the trot, but in the canter wanted more forward and wasn't having me stick to just circles. She had me doing a 20m circle or two and then cantering him straight down the long side. She said to make the canter quality and fix it by going forwards. It occurred to me I really haven't cantered this horse in a straight line in a loooong time if ever. Part of lining the body parts up especially in the canter is MOVING forward. It helped straighten out some of the twisting he wants to do. We've made the trot SO much better, now time to focus on the canter more.

We moved on to jumping a cross rail back and forth and he was quite agreeable. Then we moved to the liver pool. He has met the liver pool in many forms now and has grazed at the edge of it while I've stood on it. The lesson in February was when we told him to get over it with the aid of JT snaking the lash on the lunge line on the ground behind me, gradually getting closer. He needed this again on Monday, he stopped about six strides out and started to say Hell NO. But then he went. And with a lot less drama after. She instructed me not to let him pull me down towards it as he approached. I have to be giving over the jump, but letting him lean his shoulders and neck down at the ground right before jumping isn't actually useful. I focused on keeping my shoulders up and counting our trot tempo, the same one we've been practicing this whole month. It worked really well and I was still able to release pretty well and go with him over the fence. It was even easier to go with him from my shoulders back and up position than if I was really tipped forward as he stretched down to sniff/stare at the fence. 

Next we tackled the minion painted barrels. Again, about six strides out, he slammed on the brakes and tried for sideways. She didn't have me jump it from a standstill because it was an oxer x-rail over the barrels, but we turned and re-approached and she snaked the whip behind him and over he went. We hopped that back and forth a few times before stringing together a course of four fences including a red, white, and blue panel gate. She was nearby in case back up was needed, but he popped over after just a hard look on the way in. The last two fences were unicorns to the minions on a bending line. I let him keep cantering after landing from the unicorns. He thought about exiting, but it was pretty easy to direct him over the minions. We did the whole course one more time and just added on a left hand turn after the minions to a crossrail with new X filler under it. He popped over that with no hesitation at all. GOOD BOY!!! 

JT and I were chatting and think a few things really came together in the lesson. One is that as I've said a few times now, I have gotten MUCH more exacting in my aids and expected responses. Another is her assistant trainer's training rides on him. She is a great rider and it is really helpful regardless, but I think her jumping him at the GY's where he is more relaxed and he's going over their less exciting jumps is also really helpful. My impression is that it is allowing him to really figure out how to use himself athletically in a lower stress environment, so he has that basic foundation to fall back on when things get more exciting. He's jumping soooooo much better and is therefore much more comfortable to ride. It is also really helpful for me to watch these rides because she does such a great job communicating with him up to the jump then staying out of his way over the jump but then immediately landing and asking him to do something. I also just had a much more relaxed mindset than last lesson where I ended up frustrated that he wasn't further along. And guess what? Not being frustrated about something makes for a much more productive time with more learning opportunities for BOTH of us. 

He was being absolutely WILD before I loaded him up to go to the GY's the morning of his most recent training ride...

He did stop at this the first time, but went nicely the second


Looking really nice


  1. sounds like a really productive lesson, glad you could finally get the scheduling to work out! it's really really hard to not get a bit consumed by feeling like we aren't quite where we wanted/expected to be... i felt that way A LOT with charlie (esp bc it felt like he was always getting sidelined with one ding or another...), but am really trying to resist any feelings of external pressure or urgency now with doozy. and anyway, from my perspective, you guys look like you're humming right on along!! nice work!

    1. Thank you!! I did so well resisting that for the whole first year. But I think having him close and not in JT's barn has made it feel like he's all my responsibility now. So I'm setting benchmarks that aren't necessarily reasonable for him and ME as an adult amateur. Goal setting is tricky.