Saturday, November 24, 2018


My friend L (who I've known since Livejournal blogging days...) has recently retaken up lessons along with her 6 year old daughter E. It's at a new (to them) H/J facility between Detroit and Ann Arbor. She was talking about how nice it was and I was instantly jealous of the indoor arena, lol.

It's been awful weather, much colder than usual for November and doesn't look to be changing any time soon. I'm all for conquering the weather, but it's always nice to be able to take that out as a factor every once in a while.

So I joined L for a lesson today :D
Mare face at me after I ran her over a curb. Sorry Gwyn

But because we were stopped in Metamora for gas, the people gassing up next to us of course own the local tack shop in Oxford and gave her horse treats.  Of course.

It's a beast of a drive for a lesson (1hr 15min) when I have much more local trainers but riding WITH a friend was a great motivator. And the price was pretty damn reasonable. It's not Grand Prix Gold medal trainer AA quality, but at least it's eyes on the ground, correction and focus on some basics. It was a VERY productive lesson. I have them so few and far between that they end up always feeling super beneficial. 

Oh hai Mom, we're in a barn. Do I live here now?

Gwyn warmed up well. I hand walked her once around the arena just to get an idea of her head space, which was pretty much "I'm chill HEY WATCH THE FUCKING WHIP IT'S IN MY FACE" after which she was mare glaring me something fierce, so I think I hurt her feelings.

I told Trainer AL my goal was working on consistent connection in the bridle and canter departs. That pesky inside leg to outside rein was once again the solution. What I need to figure out is how to reestablish that throughness and connection when I'm at home without eyes on the ground.

What I'm recalling from today is using inside leg to establish movement through the outside, but steadying in the outside rein, and lifting my inside rein to block her shoulder from falling in. A lot of the time I was visualizing almost a shoulder in down the long side of the arena which set us up nicely for bend in the corners. It wasn't consistent, but it was SO much better than usual.

We did a simple figure 8 exercise at the trot, using the pole to change trot diagonals. Super simple stuff, but good basics for me and for L, who is still working on rebuilding that muscle memory for picking up correct posting diagonals and stuff. My personal goal was to go over the pole as quietly as possible while keeping connection consistent and my rhythm steady.

Then we worked on a bit of canter. L's lesson horse is a super packer and one of those horses who just knows that word, so they had to spell it out around him, lol. For me, I got Gwyn into a good, steady working trot and in the corner sat back and just cued with my outside leg and by golly Gwyn just hopped right into a canter and promptly lost it a few strides later. But holy hell that's probably the best I've ever set her up for a canter departure and it felt amazing. I went around and tried again and this time immediately supported her with inside leg and we got a nice canter down the length of the arena and I asked for a trot before she lost the canter. Lots of pats for a good mare.

We switched directions and it was not as pretty. Lots of crowhopping and head tossing and biting at my inside boot. It was odd though, she kept trying to volunteer the canter with the slightest aids, so she wanted to do it, but as soon as she'd try, it obviously hurt, and she couldn't get the leads behind. I didn't push her on this side.

 Trainer AL also saw some soreness same as AA and wants me to put her on MSM. I'm not sure I'm ready to go there but this does let me know I should get the chiro back out for her SI. We didn't ask for much more canter from her since she was not feeling it and finished off with some trot poles, which would help her out. She set the four poles at about five feet apart which definitely made Gwyn change up her stride but she did well. That's another thing I want to more of at  home. And it helps to have some measurements to work off of. 

You can see L's daughter, E, cooling down their lesson horse. It's E's reward for waiting for Mom to be done with her lesson.

I itch my face on youuuuuu


  1. Oh man that lesson sounds awesome! Sometimes getting to lesson with friends is definitely worth a little extra travel time too ;)

    1. I definitely want to prioritize doing this more, especially with the weather the way it is (and mooooore snow for us). I like that with this trainer I'd be doing a mix of both flat and some grid/pole work, which I've wanted to get Gwyn doing for a while. I think it would really help her figure out her feet and help her develop those muscles to lift her back.

  2. Lessons with friends? Sign me up!

    1. Right? I haven't had a lesson with a friend since, well I was going to say high school, but I think I took an occasional lesson in Washington with a friend.

  3. Long way to go for a lesson but I totally get why you went, how fun to ride with a friend :)