Thursday, May 16, 2019

Good enough

We had some regrouping to do after the first show of the year. While the scores and placings were perfectly good, I had a few areas pinpointed that needed work in the ring, and my horse was a gigantic satanic asshole at the trailer which just doesn't work for me.

Fortunately, due to my hyper obsessive Type A personality and #childgenius, coming up on two weeks later I'm feeling much better about things. A hodge podge mix of cheap supplements slapped one on top of another seems to have settled Dopie completely back in his skin. The change in his general attitude towards life is amazing. When I left the barn yesterday he was at the top of the field eating hay by himself while his two friends soul mates were way out on the other end of the field grazing--completely out of sight of him, and he was totally okay with that.

we had a few days in there where he was too anxious to
even take candy. that is just not okay.

On to the riding!

I had all of Sunday after the show to think over the trot lengthenings. I kept thinking back to how easy Bobby found them from literally the very first try. Real talk, if Bobby could do something well, it felt like any horse on the planet should be able to do it just as easily. He had neither the conformation nor mindset to excel/participate in dressage and the fucker could sit on his ass and wing his legs out like a boss. So where you at, oh midget grey dressage prodigy?

bobby's regular trot while being an event horse. probably not a fair comparison.

I climbed back aboard Opie Monday to see what I was really working with. Were they in there and I jut wasn't asking for enough? Turns out, no.

It seems there's this strange phenomena where every horse is different, and the strength of one might not be present in another. Does Opie have a natural lengthening? Nope. Did Bobby have anything else going for him? Not really. Does Opie? Well...pretty much everything else.

My mantra for the trot lengthening has become, "That's good...for you!" I might be crossing my fingers to score a 6 every time on these, but that's going to be good enough for now.

opie trying his utmost to make his trot bigger.

I haven't abandoned them completely though. After that initial fact finding ride, we took to the longe for most of the rest of the week. I'm most comfortable tackling problems from the ground, an approach Opie was happy to get on board with. By the end, he basically understood the entire English language and responded immediately. (Okay, he understood the difference between "big trot" and "whoa trot". #babelhorse)

My goal was to see from the ground what I was working with, but mostly to let Opie figure out his body's balance without any interference from me. You can push bigger and open up without me clonking about on your back, little horse! He did try, and he did get a bit better to the point where when I got back in the saddle there was more of a difference than before. He didn't suddenly go from a (fingers crossed) 6 to an 8, but there was more push and bounce, and most importantly he stayed soft and relaxed the whole time. That's a good starting off point win for me.

we seem to do a lot more snacking than training.

Aside from his mix of feed-through happiness, for the second year in a row he came back from the first show of the year feeling worldly. He's so funny. There's a palpable change in his attitude where he's like, "Yo, bitches. I'm a show horse. Never mind that I sat down like a complete fool in a gravel parking lot for no reason. I did show horse things." He's come out to work full of confidence and focus. He gets right to business and when he gets something right, it's all, "Candy now, mother. That was a worldly show horse workout. I'm amazing."

Along with the trot lengthening, we've been working towards such exciting things as better self carriage, better hand carriage (UGH), and forward forward forward.

I've been pulling a lot from 2-3. We're not going to be showing that test this year, but there's a ton of good movements to work through regardless. On Tuesday he did his very first full counter canter serpentine. The first time I was hanging off the side of him riding like a drunk cowboy to make sure he held the lead, but he did it so easily I thought that maybe I could just ride like a normal person and still get it. Unsurprisingly that worked just as well. He got all the worldly horse praise for that and I jumped right off for extra candies.

"i exist. for that i deserve candy."
10/10 works every time.

He still has some normal horse derp moments of course. He tried his "I'm going to break, ope you gave me leg, better bolt instead!" tactic in the canter yesterday, but I immediately shut that down and that was the end of it. Much improved from last year where he'd try that multiple times and then get mad when I kept telling him to not do it.

He's also off and on with the sitting trot. Some days it's glorious and relaxed and flowing and I can ask for anything out of it. Other days it's tight and I quit on it pretty quickly. Being a growing horse is hard work.

Overall I seem to be struggling a bit more this year with the whole no comparisons thing. Even if I shut out what everyone else is doing, I can still find ways to compare our progress to things I've done with other horses. I think it's because I no longer have no base line for this horse, so I've got a new set of expectations for him. But I'm getting there, and my main goal is to make sure young Dopie horse feels like he's the grand champion of the dressage world, even if he does kind of trot like a dachshund.


  1. Glad things are rolling along nicely for both of you - it sounds like he's piecing together the lengthen really well on the longe!!

  2. It’s hard not to compare current horse to past horse eventhough you know not to do it.

  3. It took Hampton probably 2-3 years before he finally had a good lengthening. When we were showing 1st level, and even some of second his lengthening SUCKED BALLS. So hang in there!

    1. I'm hoping there will be light at the end of the midget stride tunnel!

  4. That sounds great. Now can you fly up here and put a lengthen on Carmen before my first show (in 3 weeks)?

  5. Foster really struggled with the lengthenings too- like we *never* got them in any kind of easy way. His jam was lateral work. Whereas Jack definitely has a much more natural lengthening, but being calm in the lateral work can be hard. I told myself that I wouldn't compare the two, but I do admit- it's hard, especially when you spent YEARS thinking only about the horse before.

    1. It's definitely been a mental struggle at times to separate one from the other.

  6. It's really easy to try and compare. But as long as you can take that moment to remember all the other things that ARE going well, I think you'll get through the comparison rut ok. Opie is AMAZING even if he's not real into the trot lengthenings. Them's hard! I imagine the stronger he gets sitting down on his bum in the collected trot, the lengthenings should follow. Maybe.

    1. Being a child is hard, but it's not as hard as being Bobby was so he's got that going for him at all times.

  7. His good enough trot lengthening of today might be better in a year or two too!


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