Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11/16 Day 2: If You Weren't Sore Before...

Sorry this took so long to get out- I had an adventure with Austen at the start of the holiday week, then the holiday itself, then I got sick (good thing I wasn't able to get into that show, it wouldn't have gone well due to illness and lack of practice). Anyway, back to the adventure:

Day 2 started out as if we weren't away from home- GP Trainer's team fed Penn, changed his clothes, turned him out, cleaned his stall, and generally did everything our home barn would do. It really threw me for a loop- I'm away from home with my horse, I need to take care of him!

Since they were taking care of him, Mom and I got to take our time and get breakfast, and then stop by Tractor Supply for more Vetrolin. I ran out, and with it being so warm and the barn having heaters, I wanted to try and give Penn some muscle relief after lesson.

Also note, he got turnout! I knew they had private turnouts for every horse, and I was thrilled that he was allowed to be turned out. I warned them he's used to group turnout and may not handle being by himself, but behaved himself and acted like it's his normal routine.

Walking up to him in the morning to fetch him for lesson.

Of course he looked so peaceful out there, so I snapped a bunch more pictures. (some of the farm too)

The indoor and the beautiful path down to this section of turnouts.
A panorama for good measure.
So pretty.

Penn saw me coming, and he just kind of looked at me like, "Please don't come get me." As we watched him and looked around at the farm, he kind of wandered away. He kept looking back up at us in this "pretend I'm not here" type look.

Wandering all the way to the bottom of the field.
I finally did go catch him, he looked at me like, "Please no, I like it out here." Sorry bud, we came here to ride!

We started our second lesson by talking about bend- I told GP Trainer we had been struggling with half pass, and she started with the basics of bend.

GP Trainer equates bend with lifting the inside rib cage more than the outside rib cage, instead of thinking of it as driving the inside leg to outside rein. I found this more effective than my previous method of "inside leg until something happens" because guess what, something never happened for us.

I also got a tip on how to get my lower leg on my horse! GP Trainer is taller than I am, and she has similar struggles that her leg hangs well below the widest part of her horse's barrel. She said to put my pinky toe on the iron and lift my big toe to get my ankle around my horse. I've had similar instruction before, but it's all been a bracing action that I find impossible to hold, let alone be functional and use my leg. The way she explained it just spoke to me.

This small change went into immediate effect with our trot work- a simple spiral in and out. Going to the left, I need to make sure to keep him a hair straighter (hello left hand turrets), and focus on making his shoulder lead on the spiral in, yet keep his head right (aka straight). Trainer also gets after me for this.

See the following video for her exact wording (mom was really super about catching 90% of her instruction in this lesson!) and me on the struggle bus:

Then there was the great, "Shoulder in FAIL." *facepalm* Yupp, I've ridden second, and was attempting third, and had my shoulder in majorly corrected. I'm not sure if it was like this on Mikey, I had many comments about "needs more bend" which is what I was lacking with Penn, but man, I felt stupid.

In short, we have a lovely leg yield. Penn's haunches don't stay straight and parallel to the wall. Instead, he crosses his hind legs a bit, which makes it a leg yield and not a base for further work.

And here's the great video of GP Trainer correcting me, and then direction on how to reintroduce and fix Penn's shoulder in. We were going to look at half pass, but GP Trainer said it's useless to work on half pass when our shoulder in isn't correct.

Basically, we're going with the "explicit instructions" for Penn. As GP Trainer said, "Subtlety comes later." That means putting the outside leg on slightly back to keep his hips straight, and the inside leg on at the girth, with my inside rein opening way away from the neck, and the outside rein coming over a bit too, then only hold the correct shoulder in for a few steps because he simply can't hold it any longer with any real quality. She didn't care that he wandered in off the track, she only didn't want him wandering out to it. I have to say, your inside leg has to really be on to counter act the inside hand. As soon as I could get the leg on, I could do what GP Trainer wanted with my hand. Ugh, my inside leg. Maybe that's why the "inside leg to outside rein" idea never worked for me. I can't get the leg to do what I want!

The canter was similar to the day before, repeating the canter circle exercise. Magically, I could get my lower leg on my horse in the canter, a notable change in my riding.

I ached all over after two lessons. My thighs hurt from finally getting my lower leg on, my sides and back hurt from the stretching up, and my abs felt the burn after finding that sweet spot in sit trot where I tuck my butt under me to help encourage Penn to sit, yet hold up my own torso so Penn doesn't struggle with sitting. Everyone in the relationship has to hold themselves up. Sorry bud, I owe you one. Especially after watching my hands in the trot work. Ugh, I look like I've never sat on a horse before. It'll take time to get all my body parts acting properly again with all these changes!

After lesson, we went for a little hack around the farm. That is a big thing for GP Trainer- the horses must get out of the ring, even for little hacks.

One of the big fields at the front of the property.
Walking back to the barn, down the main drive.

After lesson, Penn got a vetrolin bath and then tried the infra-red solarium. I thought the fans would disturb him. Newsflash: he could get used to this kind of treatment. The spoiled pony.

Well on his way to spoiled.

I finally got around to getting more pictures of the farm and the set up:

The walk out to Penn's turnout, next to the indoor.
Stevie the kitten.
Umm, tack room or luxury sitting area?!?! I loved this tackroom and the matching trunks.
And the cleaning station. OMG all the love to the tack cleaning station. I would clean my stuff every ride if we had it at home... but I mostly cleaned my tack because I was having lessons and I was attempting to get my tack clean enough to sit in a cubby!
I saw this on their bulletin board and loved it.

Dinner or window? Penn went off his feed a bit on this trip, but I don't think it was because he was upset- I think it was because he had so much to see.

Penn got to spend the rest of the day outside, and Mom and I went to lunch, did some shopping, and paroozed a local tack shop that was heavily into fox hunting and had all the wonderful horsey trinkets and pillows that make up a very horsey home. I managed to leave without buying anything!

GP Trainer's team brought Penn in and dressed him later on in the evening after it cooled down for the night. It's still a bit boggling that I didn't have to do anything for him while we were gone!

Next up, Day 3, putting the pieces back together.


  1. A tack lounge. That is awesome. And Penn looks fantastic. Especially at the canter!

    1. I love our tack cleaning stations at home, but hers... man, fancy! But I'm pretty sure it was peer pressure that made me clean tack, not the wonderful station! And thanks, his canter really came along in these lessons.

  2. This sounds so amazing! I'm going to have to reread it to process everything.

    1. It took me a little while to process it myself. Thank goodness Mom was excellent with the video because I could hear the exact instructions over again! My goal was to absorb as much as possible this week!

  3. 😍😍😍
    That's all, I have no words. Just heart eyed emojis... Wow!

  4. Wow, love how she explained the shoulder-in!

    1. Yes for sure! I've always known that explanation, but it never quite sank in I guess? Or in fact, I just needed "more"!

  5. Thank you for that shoulder-in explanation. I too have a fabulous leg yield down the long side... time to start working on that!

    1. We should start a club. The Fabulous Leg Yield Club. Working on it without mirrors has been super tough, but I have a good idea of when it's right and wrong because there's a very specific feeling when the horse's hips are straight yet his shoulders aren't. Or I could be bat shit crazy and she'll correct me when I see her next.

  6. So bummed I missed your visit to the area!! What an incredible couple of lessons tho!

    1. I'll be back, then we can hanget out and I want to meet Charlie! I'm going to try to come down when Stephen is out (sans horse), but I'm going to miss him in Dec. Hopefully I can catch you one of those weekends!

  7. I really loved watching these! I'm just starting to play with shoulder in and it was great to hear her explanation. I really like her as a teacher too. She was clear and blunt but I never got the feeling that she was laughing or berating or negative about any of it.

    Also, still so jealous that you got to clinic in that amazing facility!

    1. We talked about how instructors teach- she's had mean ones that have been excellent, but it's not how she works. I like how she's blunt but never berating. Blunt works very well for me- I want to move up and sugar coating things won't help. My home trainer is the same way!

      I'm pretty sure Penn was pissed about leaving that facility!