Monday, December 7, 2015

12/1 Lesson with German Riding Master

So it took me long enough to get this post out, almost a week after the lesson! I'm glad I make quick bullet point posts shortly after lessons so I remember what we did!

Penn had a day off after the show and then I packed him back up into the trailer to have a lesson with the German Riding Master!

My trainer came and had a lesson as well! Our two horses, Rani and Penn.
German Riding Master (GRM) loved Penn. He was impressed by how soft and supple he is already, and how he seemed to have such a good brain. GRM isn't one to give out "Awesome" comments often, but I heard it many, many times.

Here's quite a few some bullet points from our lesson:
  • I make Penn trip by smothering him with a single rein. Sure enough, if I got to smothering with a particular rein, he'd trip with that front foot.
  • We started turn on the haunches. Penn wants to cross his hind legs instead of his fronts, so we focused on keeping the turn centered over the hind end. GRM also had me over exaggerate the aids and almost lead his shoulder around to get the hind end centered and the fronts moving and crossing.
  • Every transition matters. This horse knows how to walk, trot, and canter. GRM said, "I know how his trot will look just from watching you walk around. You fail in the transition." In walk to trot: coming above the bit is no longer acceptable. He must maintain the contact. Do a walk to trot transition, even out the contact with shoulder fore, relax the hands so the neck can lengthen and fill and the contact becomes elastic and steady, walk, pat, repeat. GRM was also a stickler for proper tempo in the trot. It was a fine line of too slow and too quick.
  • After a failed transition in walk, do something like a turn on the fore or turn on the haunch to give him something else to think about then revisit the transition.
  • When Penn is good, give and release for a second with both reins. Not enough to drop him on his head, but a release that lets him know he's done a good job.
  • Penn comes through and round, but is inconsistent in the contact. He jumps around on it. Use shoulder fore and shoulder in to help steady him. Give him something to do to help move him into the contact.
  • Within the trot, ask for more uphill, more raising the shoulders and the base of the neck. Half halt with the thigh and thinking about pushing back a tough recliner with the space between my shoulder blades worked well. Penn answered immediately. It is incredible.
  • When I post the trot, I have to be careful not to drop Penn downward. I need to continue thinking about him raising his neck and shoulders even though I'm posting.
  • We worked a small amount of shoulder fore and shoulder in at the trot. It mostly revolved around me not smothering him with one rein and letting him carry some forward in the movement. Just a few steps is all that's required- let him go straight after some good steps and then go back to the movement a few steps later (lots of transitions in and out of the shoulder in).
  • Penn is a little horse, just do small angles for now in the shoulder in. He can't do big angles.
  • To canter: teach him the inside hip means canter. Get a good trot going, then shoulder in on the circle, bigger trot (almost canter speed), inside seatbone scoop-(no leg), canter. As Penn got better, I had to quiet the aid otherwise I goosed him.
  • Shoulder in into canter both directions. Think shoulder in out of canter too.
  • The right lead canter gets stale, so lengthen for two strides, half halt, lengthen for two strides, half halt.
  • Leg yield along the wall as prep for a leg yield across the diagonal (no idea how to make this work at home since we don't have a wall). Do it that way to get Penn thinking about moving his haunches.
  • Counter bend slightly before the leg yields across the diagonal so I'm not setting Penn up to fail. In the leg yield right, haunches leading is ok for now. In the leg yield left, keep the shoulders coming forward and slightly leading.
Penn was so super awesome. Everyone at the barn we went to also thought he was freaking adorable too.

Everything comes so easy to Penn within this work. He doesn't throw tantrums about it. I'm not working against his conformation. I love Mikey, and I can really appreciate how difficult this work was for him, but every step was an uphill battle with him. Penn is miles ahead of where Mikey was when I was showing him at training level. I love OTTBs, however, I don't think I could ask another one to do this kind of work again (the 3rd level work+, they should all be able do up to second!). I couldn't do it, not now that I know how difficult it was for Mikey. Man, he must have really loved me- he tried so hard and worked so hard for me.

All ready to go home. Rani had to hold herself back by stepping on her own lead rope! (Note, we usually loop lead ropes over the neck so they don't hang, but all our horses are also taught not to panic if they step on it either).


  1. Sounds like a fantastic lesson! I love doing a leg yield into a canter - really sets up that inside hind to step up into the transition. Good boy Penn!

  2. I've used a fence in place of a wall for the leg yields. I never tried it at the trot but at the walk it worked well. The pasture was too lumpy in my opinion to do it at the trot.

  3. That is awesome! I think you found a real treasure in Penn.

  4. aw you must have been so proud of Penn ! what a great lesson with so many awesome takeaways