2014 goals · canter · training board · video

Final Training Ride

First: I’m aliiiiiiiiiiiiive!

So I know it’s almost July, but let’s review my June goal:


Unfortunately I already know that most of June will be a wasteland due to a massive work event at the end of the month. The goal for this month is to keep my head above water: stick to a schedule and keep him fit. 

Possible events for riding or volunteering: East Hill Farm Schooling Dressage (no dates yet), Vermont Morgan Heritage Days (June 14-15)

I was right. June was a total timesuck, wasteland, minefield – pick your metaphor. I got maybe a half dozen rides in the entire month.

The good news? Putting him into training for that month was one of the best horse-related decisions I’ve ever made. Hurrah and huzzah for that! He kept in work and fitness, and not only that, he made huge, HUGE improvements.

In fact, I have proof. I was able to get out last night to watch the last of his training rides and I have two short videos: the first of his first canter stretch during warmup, the second of a canter further along in the ride that shows some of what his next step is: more sit, more lift through the shoulders.

Finally, I saw this note and had to laugh. Only in Vermont would we still be worried about it being below 50 overnight. (I camped for most of last week for my work event, and on Friday night it was 38 degrees. Yep. You read that right. SO COLD.)

Here’s to more horse riding and blogging for the rest of 2014!

training board

Nothing Doing

There is a great deal going on in my life, but very little of it is horse-related. (Unless you count the Morgan horse stuff I am doing for work – which is great, but it is not MY horse!)

I rode on Friday last, and don’t anticipate riding again before Wednesday next. Which is a huge bummer.

HOWEVER, the ride on Friday was inspiring and difficult. It showed me the whole wide vista of challenges we have ahead of us now that he has jumped up a level.

I’ve always thought of riding as being a series of plateaus. You climb, and you climb, and then you even out, and when you get frustrated from that evening out sometimes you fall back down for a bit. But when you climb back up you’re higher than you were before – and then you’re stuck in a flat area again.

Well, we are on a very steep climb right now after quite a long plateau! It will take some getting used to.

Whenever it is I see my horse next, that is. Putting him in training while I am working 24/7 was one of my best decisions of 2014.

July, here we come!

canter · dressage · training board


The past few days have been neverending cavalcades of Not Good, and life promises to do nothing but ramp up until my work thing, but yesterday!

Yesterday, I rode my horse. For 20 whole glorious minutes. For the first time in 8 days. It was the first time I’d done anything like schooling in closer to 15 days. I fought tooth and nail to carve the time out of the schedule. I got on not expecting anything, just wanting to have the feel of a horse underneath me again.

I asked for softness in the walk. He gave it to me. I asked for more from the hind end. He gave it to me. I asked him to stay soft and round through the transition into the trot. He gave it to me.

I asked for a canter, and I asked him to come through the outside rein, in exactly the same way I have asked futilely for years (and years and years), expecting the flung shoulders, the block-of-wood neck, the hard mouth.

He softened and rounded.

I do not exaggerate in the slightest when I say the following. It is a statement of pure fact.

I have never, ever, not once, not for one single split second, felt my horse, Tristan, soften and round in the canter. Not truly. He may have given up on bulling through for a second or two, but never, ever, EVER has he put his head down and softened to the bit.

Oh hey that’s more familiar.

I almost dropped the reins. I yelled “HOLY SHIT” at the top of my lungs to the empty arena. I felt disoriented, like the ground had dropped out beneath me in front – what was I supposed to do without his ears up my nose?

I laughed. I cried. I remembered all of a sudden how to ride a collected canter and put my leg on, and straightened him out, and then brought him down to a trot and praised him to the skies.

I may not ride again for another week, but if this is the change only four training rides has wrought, I can’t freaking wait.

dressage · training board

Training Board

About a week and a half ago, I emailed the barn’s main trainer, who was now back from Florida. My work schedule is ramping up to a truly ridiculous degree, and will stay at that fever pitch through late June. I’d had a few evenings in which I went to the barn prepared to ride – and could not flog my brain through the basics of dressage. Input/output was broken. I wasn’t reacting fast enough, I wasn’t processing at all, and I was not riding well.

I asked: in light of my upcoming work schedule, can we talk about partial training board? We talked. I was thrilled with what she outlined. I said yes.

On Wednesday, Tristan had his first proper training ride in many years. It was great in many ways: first, he did not magically become an amazing dressage horse. Whew! So I wasn’t riding him all that poorly.

Second, I was able to see pretty clear progress from start to finish, and watch as the trainer’s assistant trainer/barn manager M. did things that I would’ve had trouble doing easily, quickly, and cleanly and moved Tristan through his usual evasions and trouble spots.

Third, she enjoyed riding him! She pegged him right away: stubborn, smart, not terribly supple but with a good understanding of the basics. It was a pleasure to watch Tristan go, to know he was getting a great ride, and to chat with the trainer, who had come to watch.

I’m going to watch a training ride again tonight, and then he’ll be on his own riding schedule 2x a week with M. We talked through my goals for him, and what a realistic outcome of six weeks was, and I’m happy all around.

I’ll continue to do fitness rides, hill work, hacking out – the stuff that I don’t need to engage higher thinking for. Fun stuff, for me. He’ll have someone else doing the calculus with him, and I may play around occasionally but it is a huge weight off my mind to know that I don’t have to.

I’ll try to get pictures tonight – I’m excited to see what his next ride brings!