Breaking it down


“I need a lesson on Saturday. Please be prepared to pull out every trick you have for trot lengthenings.”

…Desperate adult amateur text messages.

The other day I was thinking about all of the improvements in the last few months of training, and how helpful the clinics have been in ironing out issues in my riding so that I can be better for Cho.

And frankly, how to do things, period.

Case one:
The rein-back.

I am sure there are several ways to ask for this, but Christy’s way WORKED and it WORKED pretty much IMMEDIATELY. I am still sort of amazed by how simple it was to fix Cho’s head in the air, “I HATE GOING BACKWARDS” routine. It was one of those movements that I largely ignored, because I knew we were doing it wrong and I didn’t know how to fix that.

So now we have a rein-back and it’s (usually) pretty.

—Most rides I start with a little ground work of backing up 10 steps + walking forward several, repeat a few times. This was a huge struggle for Cho in the beginning (I started right around the Christy clinic) and now it’s no big deal and she can do more than 10, no problem.

Case two:
Cantering straight lines and continuing around the arena.

Obviously I have been working on Cholula’s stamina and strength in this area for months (and if we really want to get picky, years), so I know it wasn’t just magically fixed in one lesson. HOWEVER, a few tweaks and someone telling you that yes, your horse CAN actually do this – so ride it – was a game changer.

There have also been small victories thanks to the help of people who know what they’re doing – Cho had a tendency to dive down when given a free rein. We circumvented the issue by me just basically dropping the reins for the free walk in tests (which worked pretty well, I might add). I didn’t really know how to fix this, but I also wasn’t losing sleep over it. It was irritating, to be sure, just not a priority. Christy got after me about it and I’ve been strict with myself to be strict with Cho and now she is polite about chewing the reins out 95% of the time! (The other 5% is mare and there are no guarantees).

And now enter trot lengthenings/medium trot.
(And back to that whole ignoring things you don’t know how to fix)

These are something that haven’t clicked for me. I don’t know how to teach her. Sometimes she gives a really nice medium. Usually she just gets faster or shows little difference. A lot of times she gets hollow and loses the push from behind.

So I keep doing things – changes within the gaits, small diagonals asking for a lengthen, lateral work to lengthens…whatever. None of this has really changed the consistency. It’s kind of one of those things where I’m like “Well, maybe if it’s a good Cho day we’ll show something that’s not just faster and get a 6.”

This has been my attitude all along. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but until I watched my video from Sunday I definitely wasn’t thinking “ok, you don’t have this at all. Fix it.”

I have googled this a lot. There are a lot of good ideas on here. And by “here” I mean the entire internet. But I don’t feel like I can accurately carry any of them out on my own. I need eyes on the ground and someone tweaking things as we go. I need to ride an actual medium and feel that while someone says “THAT IS IT” so I can mentally note what I’m doing, what Cho is doing, how we are riding it.

Note: This is something fairly new that I’m able to do and it’s pretty cool. I am learning how I have to ride certain movements on her. For example, I’ve always known I really have to pull up and hold her in 10m canter circles, but now I know I also have to replicate that feeling for the counter canter work.

AND, though we will have a lesson on Saturday to attack the medium trot, I think we made some good progress on Monday night. I set up 3 cavaletti down the CL (parallel to the long side) and practiced doing transitions before or after them. The transitions were not great, but she REALLY got some impulsion going over them and I think that helped her make the connection for medium trot, as I think we had some good steps throughout the night. My take home message from this is that she needs more poles work, and if we could just have one or two to circle over in the dressage test to regroup that’d be great.

Entries are ready to mail out today, so I guess this is really happening!

PS: we did several canter/walk/canter transitions Monday night and she picked up the correct lead every time. Mares.

Breaking it down

2 thoughts on “Breaking it down

  1. I had this same issue with my mare (Friesian cross). It’s very frustrating. It took me several years before we finally got a real, honest medium trot. But boy was it cool feeling once we did.
    Good luck!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s