Friday, September 30, 2016

Lesson 9/27 :D :D


:D :D :D :D :D

That was basically my face after lesson, grinning like a stupid fool. Even Trainer snuggled Penn, she was happy too!

But let's back up a minute.

We had lesson on Tuesday, first one since champs. I warmed up in walk a little in walk with leg yields and starting half pass (because I suck at it and it's easier to work in the walk) while Trainer looked over my tests from Championships. She was very pleased with them- they were consistent and there were no glaring you-suck-at-this movements, just green horse mistakes and rider errors. Basically experience problems. We had connection and steadiness in the bridle issues, but we have that at home and we're working on it. Basically just keep moving forward and onward!

She said, "I see from Facebook you've been working on flying changes? Let's have a look at those today. They're the next step anyway."

So we chatted about how I was approaching them. She wanted to try them from half pass since that's the one way I haven't done them (and she's thought for a while it would be the easiest way for Penn to do them and understand), and I said I was afraid to do them from half pass because the half pass just sucks right now. So we looked at half pass first.

I'm going to attempt to remember our half pass work. There was important information in there that should be recorded but it's just fallen out of my head. I can't remember it all because I'm so happy over the second half of lesson, haha. Here's some bullet points of what I think I remember. I'll have to ask her to go over it with me again next time...

The exercise: Shoulder-in on the quarterline to half-pass. Turn the new direction and repeat.
  • Half pass left needs more right leg to keep the right hind coming
  • In trot leg yields left he's started to feel bridle lame- she made me relax my left hand and just let him work himself out, same thing in half pass left. (I'm pretty sure this was the solution- basically he just needed to figure it out himself)
  • Half pass right struggles with bend. *crickets* I honestly can't remember what she said about helping that along, major fail here cause I could have told you about the bend struggle haha! I'm pretty sure it amounted to doing less because I tend to smother which prevents the things I'm trying to smother into existing. Yea, that doesn't work.
  • In shoulder in, be careful how much angle I get- Mikey was long backed and needed more. Penn is short backed and doesn't need anywhere near as much angle before he's on 4 tracks. If the shoulder in feels right, it's probably too much angle.
  • The half pass has the opposite problem. If the half pass feels right, I need to check that still have angle, otherwise the haunches are probably leading. My feel is off- I feel that it needs to actively have a crossing feeling like leg yield... and I don't think that's right... so my whole feel is wrong.
I love this picture.
And I know Mikey's haunches are leading.
But toe point!
  • Start the half pass work in posting trot on the wrong diagonal.
  • When I switch to sitting trot, all it takes is a simple weight shift to send him into half pass across the diagonal. Let sensitive pony be sensitive!
  • He was jumpy off the contact, but held some bend and had excellent crossover.
  • The one time he stayed on the bit in the half pass right, he was a crossing fiend and I felt that whoosh sideways with reach. Ermygawd, I need to not be stupid in the half pass so that's the norm!
Half pass homework? Keep practicing in walk and trot so we can move on to half pass in canter.

Trail ride Wednesday evening.

Trainer had me start the canter work by showing her what I've been doing. I started off to the left, did a couple one loops and double one loops because Penn decided to be a spooky bastard about the back end of the indoor arena. I then moved on to our canter/walk/counter canter/walk/canter on a circle at the front of the indoor. I did a couple simple changes, then asked for the flying change back to true canter. BAM! He was prompt, clean, not anticipatory. Trainer was like, what the hell, that was clean and a non-event!

She had me change direction and show her the same work to the right. Same non-event clean change at the end. Then she got after me for letting him stop after as I praised him ("Eventually you're going to want to do more than one!")

She had me repeat the circle exercise to the right. At this point, Penn had caught on quite well to what was going on and was anticipating via inverting (not overly concerned about that right now). He was extra prompt and super up in the transitions from walk to canter and was starting to find his sassy pants. He was also pinning his ears until we did the flying change, which I wasn't crazy about.

We repeated the same clean change, then trainer wanted me to go down the next diagonal and do another change. I opted to go down the wall and come around on the diagonal the other direction (I thought doing a flying change into a spooky part of the arena wouldn't be good for him), but by the time I came all the way around, I lost the good canter and got all befuddled across the diagonal. I asked for the change and pitched myself forward (hello Mikey habits) and Penn went, "OMG you said gooooooo!" and squirted out down the diagonal. I half halted and sat up and asked again and he gave another clean change in the corner (even though we were still a sloppy mess).

That exact response is why I like changes on the circle right now- I don't do the bad things that make Penn misinterpret my cues. I need to fix myself. No pitching forward!

I'm pretty sure this is the reason I pitch forward... because changes were such an event with Mikey. Hell, the one lesson he almost dumped me over his ass because he launched up so hard.

She had me start the circle exercise again towards the other end of the arena going to the left, but not the full way at the end of the arena- enough so that I could go a super short diagonal towards the non-spooky end of the arena. By this point, Penn was quite hoppy off the aids and VERY sassy, so I toned down all of my cues. He stopped pinning his ears at that point and listened to me. I made him do a couple extra walk/canter/walk before asking for the next change (which was perfectly clean). Trainer had me take him across the diagonal again where I botched the change by shooting him down the diagonal via pitching forward. Turn around, repeat to the left.

Clean change again on the circle exercise from an even sassier Penn, then across the diagonal with a much more relaxed and through horse. I kept my shit together and asked for the change, and Penn promptly did a nice clean change, with a bit less sass.


He's a freaking smart cookie. This is the 4th time I've touched the changes, and the most we've ever done in a ride. And they're clean. Inverted with a bit of sass, but they're clean. I kept asking trainer, "They're clean right? Not late behind?!"

Comments from the work as we did it:

  • Tracking left in the circle exercise: When changing from true canter to counter canter, make the change more from the leg and less from the seat. I'm shoving his haunches over with my left seatbone (wrong), instead of the left leg and right seatbone for the new bend. And I mean shoving, BTW. Like I felt my left side dip and push and Trainer was like, "STOP DOING THAT!"
  • I need to find a true working canter. Penn goes in more of a collected canter since his canter was a mess for so long. Trust him in finding a bigger working canter so I don't smother him as much and so that his sass has a direction to go in. Same goes for the counter canter. Trust the horse and hold his lead with my leg and seat.
  • Be quieter with my whole body- leg, seat, hand, everything.

Flying change homework? Don't touch it too much (aka don't touch for at least a week!). And work on being quieter with all the body parts, and ask more from the leg because right now my seat is screaming at him. Work the circle exercise without the flying changes to help break the anticipating and to keep working on the counter canter. Find a true working canter in the counter canter on the circle. Basically, counter canter all I want and work a ton of simple changes. The canter-walks still need a ton of work.

But OMG guys, I'm pretty sure by next summer we'll have the changes and counter canter sorted out... We just need to develop medium and extended trot and extended canter... then it's Bronze Medal time!

I got Felix a no-stuffing rabbit dog toy.
He loves it. He grabs it with his claws and throws it and tumbles with it.


  1. Penn is going to be a flying chance machine 😁 Bronze Medal here you come!!

    1. He really is- he can already handle a change on a circle then going down the diagonal and changing again. He's going to be a tempi star!

  2. That's so impressive! You two are amazing.

    1. Thank you! He is the impressive one- he's making my job easy and I'm getting so spoiled.

  3. this is so cool - wooooo 3rd level!!!

  4. So exciting! Bronze is just around the corner!

  5. This is so, so, cool! I love it when they seem like they think about what they're being taught over night and you get something even better the next day. What a smart guy!

    1. It's like he studies while I'm gone! He's a very smart guy!