Tuesday, April 25, 2017

4/7/2017 Day 2: "Straightness is a Bummer!"

Day 2 of lessons was a cold and very windy day- I was not looking forward to the drive home and the wind pushing the trailer around! Also, you guys get better video this time around. My mom has gotten confident enough with a cell phone (she still has a flip phone that is over 10 years old y'all, this is a HUGE step for her!), that she asked how to zoom, lol. You've been getting sucky video because I was afraid to overload her with technology. I figured she'd ask on her own how to zoom, and she did!

This is the first time we've had competing lessons going on- GP Trainer had the main sound system and the other rider had an earpiece system to hear one of the assistant trainers. It made it hard to figure out what the other lesson person was working on or where they were going- I couldn't hear the instructions the other trainer was giving. Not that I could have processed two sets of instructions anyway, lol.

We warmed up by reviewing the bend and SI exercise from the day before, except I tossed on renvers at the end instead of half pass. Nothing ground breaking, but still a good warm up.

Still shows some bend issues. But he's got some reach for a little horse!

Off to the canter! GP Trainer built on the inside leg to outside rein idea- canter in shoulder fore. Then canter in shoulder fore on single loops... which I found impossible because I heart pulling the left rein. After instruction to shoulder fore through it, then almost think renvers through it (never making it past X either time), she had me try to counter bend him through it...

"Look in the mirror. Is your horse actually bent right?"


Haha. And guess what? When I'm not hanging on my inside rein, we can make nice and straight and balanced and steady canter single loops.

She gave me some assigned reading homework for next time: the Chronicle of the Horse article that covered Isabell Werth's symposium at the FEI World Cup Finals. She went on to say how with every horse of every level, Isabell worked on inside leg to outside rein first, and most of the work was built on that. She finished her description of the article by comparing it to Penn doing anything to avoid just tracking straight, especially in walk. "Straightness is a bummer!"

Then we did two small loops at canter- like F to B and B to M and only a handful of strides off the rail. The first thing I did was make it too leg yield-like. The loops need to be clearly straight off the rail and back to the rail.

The idea with the two small loops is basically fine motor control: "Any idiot can whip the horse around, it takes a lot of core control from him and from you to only go in two steps." Penn is SO HANDY. This is where I love my little short backed horse- those loops were relatively easy to do.

We talked briefly about the collected walk- he wants do anything to avoid just walking slow and steady and putting himself back together. The walk needs to be slow enough that he articulates each joint, otherwise he can end up stabby with his hind legs.

We went back to canter, but to the right. It was infinitely easier than the left, and GP Trainer said something along the lines of, "You really do love pulling JUST the left rein!" I had told her at the start of the visit that I was trying to break my habit, and when we tackled the left canter first, she called it "insideitis," haha.

She had me add a few more MPH to the right lead canter, and then said, "Look at you, Queen of Straightness!"

Lots of good work to the right, much better than the left. I was so super thrilled that Penn could make it all the way around her indoor, almost 3 times, in canter right. He got pretty far in left lead too! Her indoor is huge, so I count it was a big accomplishment!

We finished by readdressing the lengthening/medium trot. I did a fairly conservative one in our trot work warm up, and she wanted to go back over it. She wanted me to channel my "inner 3 gaited park horse" as I do them. She wants me to think about bringing his knees up with every step, and to not let his neck out because otherwise he wants to dive down onto his face and doesn't give as big a reach with his step. I couldn't manage it well in sitting trot, so she said to try posting, but post the biggest posts I could.

It worked! I felt ridiculous doing it, but it didn't look ridiculous on the video.

She had me do another one sitting, but stand up in the stirrups a tiny amount and really put my calves on. That gave his back space to go and lift into and the drive forward.

I need to practice this- it's a strange feeling for me. Jenj and I have talked about "fluffing" the trot with the hand, and I think that's the motion that GP Trainer is after as she's shouting "UP!" at me, lol.

We have some excellent homework from this lesson until I see GP Trainer next, at the first recognized horse show of the year! Before I left, we talked about that show. I'm going to repeat just 1-3 each day, and we'll do a half hour lesson Friday night. I mentioned possibly doing second level in June, and she agreed that it would probably be ok to go give it a try by then. I mean, I was going to do it anyway, but sort-of-permission is good too!


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE watching your lessons with LS! Your progress is amazeballs. And I am totally trying those tips at the extended trot. No one has ever told me that before - to just slightly stand in your stirrups and but your calves on. Good idea!

    1. Agreed! Definitely stealing this to try later!

    2. Thanks! And I love that trick- I have trouble keeping my own balance during it, but when I have trouble, Penn still reaches better.

  2. Whoa, DAMN that's a big medium trot! Look at how much reach he has and how uphill he is! Also I need to know your secrets to riding counter-canter because my brain just cannot handle that. You guys look so good!

    1. I'm sad his medium trot is broken right now, sigh. (more on that in the next post!) And my secret to counter canter is straightness! When I get him bent up, it's wobbly and irregular.

  3. ahhhh he looks so good!!! so exciting to see such real progress in his canter work too, you must be thrilled!

    1. I am super thrilled! All that work finally didn't feel out of reach for him!