Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dressage Reboot

I’m sure this is obvious by now from my several months of posts and training recaps, but a few months I went back to the not so warm embrace of dressage.

Phyllis Stein pin <3
I can’t say that there was one thing that brought me back to it.  Mostly, it just felt nice to work on it.  In some ways, dressage can be addictive.  There are few things that bring me the satisfaction of a really smooth canter transition or a really forward, but relaxed trot or canter that your horse is stretching into.  That may sound insane and likely pretty boring to most of you, but it’s true for me.

This has brought about a few different not so nice feelings in me. 

For one, it makes me feel a bit guilty.  My bff and horse-riding buddy is a skilled and talented rider (a more effective and patient rider than I’ve ever been), but she’s just not all that enthused by dressage.  She’s noticed my lack of desire to jump and I think it bums her out, which bums me out. 

I also feel like a bit of an asshole.  Ever since my first training session on a cross-country course I kinda knew deep down that what I really liked about riding in the great outdoors isn’t jumping things – it’s just cantering along at a brisk, but controlled pace.  Now – if there was such a sport that just required outdoor controlled-cantering, I’d be like “SIGN ME UP!”, but that’s not eventing. 
Random puppy picture to break up word garbarge
As for stadium – well, I still like it, but only at small fence heights.  As my friend’s horse became more confident in his abilities to jump (and boy, does he have some ability!) the jumps slowly crept up in size.  They’re at a place that I just don’t enjoy jumping at (2’6”).  I’m happy to jump around at 2 feet, but I’m not happy jumping 2’3” – 2’6” courses.  It drives me nuts and embarrasses me that it scares me, but it does.  I have to pep talk myself over that fence height, and pep talking oneself and ones horse through an entire ride isn’t what I consider fun.  So I don’t do it very often.

I am absolutely all about pushing myself and my riding abilities, but what I’m not into is pushing myself into areas that make me nervous every single ride.  It seemed like a natural fit to start working on dressage again and I feel like I came back to it fresh and inspired.

Anyways… I haven’t said all this before, because as I mentioned above – it doesn’t give me the greatest feels, but I felt that an explanation was in order before I have a post on what is about to occur *cough* dressage saddle shopping *cough*.  J
Top - December, Bottom - November - I'm seeing progress!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from me and Gav.  :)  I hope everyone gets to spend today doing exactly as they please with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December Goals

Goals for December (ignore the horrible formatting!)


Goals for December
1.        Soft elbows (as soft as I want his jaw to be)
2.        Praise more often at smaller tries (especially around others)!
3.        1 lesson (December 8th)
4.        Research whether it is required in 2018 to ride in dressage saddle at 1st level (I heard this change was made, but I want to confirm before I freak out about how poor I’m about to be)
5.        Register with: WPCSA, RMDS, and send in breed paperwork to USDF

1.        Continue growing out mane
2.        Research skin/coat supplements
3.        Stick Gavin
4.        Confirmation pics on second Saturday

1.        Transitions – trot-walk-trot, trot-canter-trot, walk-canter
2.        Lateral work
a.       Leg yields from the quarter line – 2 strides with lateral, 2 strides forward, 2 strides lateral, etc.
b.       Shoulder in on the circle
c.        Shoulder-in down the rail
                                       i.      Walk
                                     ii.      Trot
1.       Use 10 m circle to go into shoulder in
3.        Have someone video the lateral work (specifically shoulder-in as I have a hard time knowing if my angle is right)

Monday, December 4, 2017

November Goals Recap

Goals for November


Goals for November Recap


1.        Soft elbows (as soft as I want his jaw to be) – huh… I kinda forgot about this one.  Continue into November.

2.        Track length of ride with length of warm-up, intervals, down-time, etc – Successful.  Rides tend to be 45 – 55 minutes with a  pretty standard 20 minutes devoted on warming-up/loosening-up

3.        Don’t forget to give breaks – Successful.  Tracking the length of my rides, intervals, etc helped significantly with this. 

4.        Praise more often at smaller tries – I’d call this somewhat successful.  I’m good at this when I’m alone.  I need to be better when others are riding around me.

5.        2 lessons (scheduled for November 10th, November 24th) – Successful!  Trailered alone for both and he was a good boy for both of them.


1.        Continue growing out mane – Successful.  It’s mostly flopping over now, but still has some length to go.  Will continue this goal.  Will likely add in a skin/coat supplement as well to help with the dandruff.

2.        Get session for bodywork – with new half-pad, change in footing and size of arena, Gavin is moving like a champ.  Holding off on any chiro/acupuncture.

3.        Stick Gavin to determine if he can compete as a pony in 2018 dressage classes – per new dressage trainer – Unsuccessful.  Have a date to stick him at my next lesson (December 8th)

4.        Weight tape Gav with Confirmation pics (do this monthly going forward) – per saddle fitter – Mehhhh – sorta successful.  Didn’t get a weight tape, but did take confirmation pics.  Will take confirmation pics every second Saturday of the month going forward.


1.        Transitions

a.       Trot to walk (a stride) to trot

                                                               i.      Somewhat successful.  A very helpful exercise.  I’m focusing more on him staying relaxed through his back and jaw and going forward into both upward and downward transitions rather than how many strides of walk or trot are involved.  He’s getting it, but I have to stay loose and play with the bit lightly to keep him from locking up.  Will continue into November.

b.       Trot to canter to trot

                                                               i.      This has been a very helpful exercise for us.  His trot to canter transitions are much improved and this also helps with walk-to-canter.  Will continue into November.

c.        Walk to canter with no trot in the transition

                                                               i.      Successful…sometimes.  He likes to throw a stride of trot in, but if I prep him with some solid trot-to-canter transitions he picks it up beautifully.  This might always be a work in progress.  Canter is hard for him.

2.        Walk squares

a.       Somewhat successful.  I have a hard time keeping him loose during these.  Makes sense – he kinda sucks back on the turns.  It’s a useful exercise, and I think it’s helping the shoulder bulge.   Just gotta keep him thinking forward.

3.        Lateral work

a.       Leg yield along wall (walk)

                                                               i.      Total success.  He’s figured this one out!  And I think it’s really helped him understand how to move laterally.

b.       Leg yield from quarter line (trot)

                                                               i.      Somewhat successful, but like the square turns – he gets a bit sucked back.  Trainer has suggested two strides sideways then forward, two strides sideways, forward, etc.  She says this is mostly him not understanding that we want both forward AND sideways.  Lots of leg yield will help.