Tuesday, September 15, 2015


 Bobby was one hard working dude over the weekend. We carried over what we'd worked on Friday during our lesson while warming up for what was a  deceivingly simple jump exercise. Hubby was nice enough to come along to video what was exceptionally boring work for someone not particularly interested in the intricacies of dressage, and then I made him do some cardio by fixing fences with almost every run through.

And by me, I really mean Bobby.

I thought about saving the flat videos for our next lesson post, but the jumping videos aren't much more exciting, and let's be honest--as long as you read Trainer's bullet points in a British accent, you're amused enough.

I switched out Bobby's bit to a plain egg butt as suggested by Trainer, and unsurprisingly, he's gone much better in it than the french link Happy Mouth he was in. I picked up my reins and he went right to work.

Also, if you're wondering why my stirrups are just dangling at his sides, I've become completely inept at flatting in my jump saddle so it's easier for me to ditch them. I hate the feeling of them under my thighs when they're crossed though. I'm also only supposed to be sitting the trot while flatting right now because apparently I am also inept at posting slow enough to not make my horse go jetting off at a million miles an hour.

Possibly I am just inept at everything.

Trainer would have us walking even slower and rounder, but I did want him thinking a little more forward since we were going to jump. Even so, it looks so slow to me. My biggest focus is supposed to be getting Bobby (and myself) to think about every single footfall. He can go forward so long as he's not using it as an excuse to race off.

Want an example?

Here's us flatting in jump tack before our first lesson. This trot is rushed:

And this one is not:

It is, however, a little nauseating thanks to Hubby's camera work. WTF was going on in the ceiling, Hubby?

The canter from August I actually like. Outside of lessons, I haven't been working much on the canter in the ring. Saturday's video shows why:

He's round, every footfall is deliberate, but... I don't know. There's something about it I'm not a fan of. Maybe it's not what it's supposed to look like right now while following Trainer's guidelines. Maybe it is.


And that is giving me a serious complex. I understand we're going to have a lot of ugly moments before it all becomes easy and effortless and pretty. It's hard for my Big Picture brain to acknowledge that these small steps are going to help in the long run though. It's even harder for me to not have all the information all at once in my brain on how to get to the big picture.

Trainer is giving me homework every lesson to work on during the week, but it's things like, "Perfect the half halts so that you can almost bring Bobby back to a halt from the trot." Or, "Start incorporating leg yield." These are things we already know how to do, and we actually do them well. I don't think Trainer believes me when I tell her this, or that our current suckiness (or at lest a good part of it, as there's plenty of real suckiness to fix) is mostly thanks to Bobby being out of shape.

Bobby half halts off of a butt cheek squeeze. He may need another one in ten strides, but his reaction is instant. We were doing leg yield zig zags with zero effort during our ride on Sunday. I guess the next step is to make them even more perfect?


indoor pictures don't get taken because the best ones turn out like this.

I'm used to always working alone while I ride. I don't want to turn into one of these riders that can't ride outside of a lesson. That is never going to work for me. One because money, but two because no. That is just not okay.

However, I also don't want to be paying for lessons, and then go to work on my own during the week and derail what Trainer wants me working on by doing my own shit.

Is this struggle making sense to anyone? Possibly I've gone completely fucking crazy already and we're only two lessons in.

Bobby got a fun ride on Monday where we cruised around on the trails on the right lead at the canter. He's not particularly good at it in the ring yet, but I do want to start building up muscle on that side. Any excuse to do nothing but go out and do shit with my horse that we both enjoy is always okay with me.

Today he has the day off. Tomorrow we'll do a little jump jump school because there's a show entry sitting on my kitchen table waiting to see if it's needed, lessons be damned.


  1. My computer has decided to only play videos in stop motion today, sooooooo I have absolutely no idea. Toodles!

  2. I'm totally jealous of your lower leg without stirrups.....it does. NOT. move.

    Even if Bobby is "out of shape," I still think you guys look great!

  3. I'm not a trainer, but maybe what you are seeing that you aren't liking is that he's a bit on the forehand? I think as once he gets used to moving like that & his muscles strengthen & he can lift his front end better, you'll like it better. :) Just my thought though!

  4. I was in a similar spot with a new coach a few months ago. I was like "We KNOW this, I promise you...what are you even looking for, I don't understand!" Going back and making the little things better has resulted in huge progress. I still hate that she was right, though :)

  5. Interesting! I would carry on with the lessons for a bit and see how it goes. She's just getting to know you and getting a sense of what you guys can do. Maybe chat with her about what you want out of lessons or ask to work on specific things.

    I probably won't ever take another lesson on Apollo, ever. But I don't have any specific goals with him either. Other than some trail riding stuff.

  6. i pretty much live in a state of constant disarray while schooling on my own - wondering if i'm undoing my lessons.... except - i'm totally not and the lessons just help provide a framework in which i can view each ride. i never achieve the same degree of 'slow-n-round' that my trainer wants when i'm schooling solo bc i'm convinced that it can't be right (the self doubt is strong with this one). and yet, the lessons are still progressing and getting better.

  7. I agree with carrying on for a little while. I think sometimes when a trainer says - you need to work on xyz - and we're thinking but I already do! They are talking more specifics and we're thinking bigger picture. I also think that they've seen this all so many times before and that one small puzzle piece that they're trying to get is going to make the whole picture better. I'm also struggling to be able to slow Katai's trot speed but now as it is getting more consistent so much more is falling into place! We were doing leg yields but they weren't actually leg yields because she wasn't on any of her legs like my enough to get the benefit of it. Not that I can feel an actual leg yield it all makes more sense.

    Not saying that you have the same shortcomings that we do, more that I think you and I think alike and while I was in the same place with an instructor I managed to stick it out and I'm so glad that I did!!

  8. So, I'm kind of like you in terms of wanting to be able to work independently most of the time, and not just be able to ride when I'm in a lesson. I've found that a lesson about once a month is working for me right now. Because it takes me that damn long to figure out what she wanted me to fix, even when in the lesson I'm thinking "but we don't have a problem with that." Not sure if that $.02 is at all helpful to you, but so it is.

  9. What I find really interesting is that the clinician I cliniced with twice this year (also British), reamed up the arse for a trot as slow as you show in the second video and told me my horse is lazy and he needs to mooooooove. Then again, once he started moving we slowed him down a tad, but never that slow. Bobby looks great though!

  10. For me, a lot of taking lessons (especially when starting with a new trainer) is about swallowing your pride. It's frustrating to work on things you feel like you already know, but all the good ones have something they want to fix that will make something else EASIER.

    Like the time I worked on relaxing my ankle and "sinking into my heels" which magically fixed my shoulders and back. Don't know how, but it did.

  11. I totally get what you mean. I went about three years on Rico without a formal lesson, started riding with a BNT (Tracey) who kind of blew my mind and completely changed the way I rode. The hard part about that is that this made it hard to predict where I was going. So it was like all I had to work on was exactly what we did in a lesson because I couldn't figure out where we'd be going next. Once as we had enough lessons and I knew what the trajectory looked like, it was a lot easier to feel like I was being productive between lessons, rather than feeling like I was just ruining things.

    You guys look great! I love using the slow trot. It definitely makes a huge difference. I felt like it really got Rico understanding the difference between leg = go and leg = more engaged. Basically find the tempo you want, then building the trot around it. Slower tempo + energy = more engagement, more cadence.

  12. Yeah, this is hard. When I moved back to VA to ride Lex with M, I had a lot of "but she already knows xyz" moments too. But M was right when she wanted to revisit those things, because she was coming at it from a different program than I'd been in, and to get us where she wanted us, she wanted it EXACTLY the way she wanted it.

    Then of course I retired Lexi and bought Mo, who hadn't been started at all, so his entire program has been designed by her and executed by me. My horse lives at her barn, even (and she doesn't have boarders, I'm the working student). So everything--what he eats, his turnout schedule, his farrier visits--are all in her hands. If I wanted to change anything, he's my horse, so I can do whatever I want (like, I can use any farrier I want, but hers is good so why make someone else drive out there). And if I have questions about his program, we talk about it. But what M has done for me in the nearly 18 months I've been in her barn is teach me her ENTIRE process. She has horses in several stages of training, her son is in pony club, she's had my two green TBs, she sees Red about once a month. Plus I can watch her teach lessons whenever I'm available. So I see how it's an integrated system now, and all the pieces fall into place. I usually take two lessons a week, one dressage and one jumping. When I'm riding on my own in the ring if she's up there, she'll holler at me if she doesn't like what she sees and compliment us if she does like it. She's only sat on Mo once, for three or four minutes, when I was too unwell to actually get him to do what he needed to do.

    So that's my situation. Am I trainer dependent? Nope, because what she's done is give me the overall theory to understand why we're making the decisions for him that we're making. So she doesn't coach me at shows, and that's fine, because I don't need her to at this phase (when XC starts to look scary I might need help). She'll leave town for weeks at a time and I can bring my horse AND her young horse along so that when she gets back, they've been getting the work done that she expects.

    I don't think her way is the only way. I do think my horse is coming along really well. All of this is to say, it's HARD to start with a new person, but if you get invested in their program (maybe not to the extent that I am, ha, it's kind of my entire life) and they get invested in you, it should all start to make sense. If your leg yields are perfect, she'll see that and move on to the next thing, you know?

    Jeez. I should have written this as a blog post. Ha.

  13. Maybe videotaping your lessons might help you to fully understand the light bulb moments you are having with the trainer? When I first starting working with my old trainer I would tape every lesson and watch them on repeat to analyze. I found it really useful and since you can occasionally get the hubs to video you, a comparison might be helpful for you to understand the nuanced differences.

  14. It can be so hard to maintain perspective when you are working through things. Also I don't think you are the personality type that becomes a sycophant. It's a fine balance and maybe its spend time working on some of the Trainer stuff and some of your own. I spend a lot of time these days riding outside of lessons and things seems to be working out okay. Don't get down, persevere, you can do it, you are a total BA and I totally look up to you!

  15. I feel like sometimes when I have a lesson after a few weeks without one I half expect my trainer to be like "oh god you've messed everything up!" But that hasn't happened yet, so I guess I'm on the right track? If it ever did though, then I guess I'd know what not to do... I think there's only so much we can do as ammys but I'll take a little between-lesson confusion or lack of confidence over not being ale to ride without a trainer around any day!

  16. I think it takes time to get used to something new. You're used to seeing Bobby go a certain way and liking it and now you're being told to see things differently and you haven't adjusted yet. Though I do think that trot is super slow mo


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