Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Feeling of Starting From Scratch

**Pictures provided by my BO are totally unrelated to this post, but too fun not to share!**

It's true. Lilly and I have done very little in the way of actual work these past several years. Between all the hoof issues popping up, the craziness that is my life, and a myriad of other excuses I can think of, we really haven't practiced much of anything for an extended period of time. I'd get a ride in here and there, but I couldn't really work toward making us better, because the rides were too few and far between.

Feeling frisky!
There's something to be said for winning either grand champion or reserve champion in at least one division at every single horse show we went to this past year, but we're not really improving, and that's because we haven't been working to improve.

We do well enough to squeak by. We're consistently the okayest horse and rider team out there.

Lilly is awesome, and I was reminded of this last night when I was talking with my barn owner about buying horses. She's in the market for an OTTB she can use for dressage and jumping, and we were talking about how much we enjoy our predictable horses. She's a little nervous about starting over with a new horse. She's had her mare since she was a foal, like I have with Lilly, and we love the fact that we know our horses inside and out.

Rodeo pony!
I got to thinking about that conversation and how, in a way, I feel a bit like I'm starting from scratch this year. I know it's not the same as starting with a new horse, but I want it to feel like I have a new horse. I want to ride a lot more than I did last year, I want to work on several of our issues, and I want to see and feel improvement. I want to finally make some progress and feel confident when we jog into the western pleasure class that we're going to kill it.

I'm just glad she didn't tear anything... just sayin'.
Last night I rode for the first time this year. I've done all the longing I want to do for now, so it was time to bust out the saddle... the very moldy, gross, uncomfortable saddle. Lilly gave it the stink eye when I brought it out from the tack room, so I don't think she was too excited about the prospect of going for a ride. Honestly, I tried to talk myself out of it several times as well because it was SO COLD, but I kicked myself in the butt and tacked her up.

Overall we had a really great ride, considering the temperatures and the fact that I haven't ridden in months. I rode for about 30 minutes, which is what I'm going to stick with for now, just so we don't overdo it. We did mostly trot work, with lots of circles, changes of speed, and ground poles. I threw in a canter every now and then and the transitions were spot on, but I can tell she's not strong at all.

The usual issues were present, and I want to acknowledge them, so I can work on making improvements.
  • When she thinks she should be done jogging, she roots with her nose. Maybe I give her too much credit, but to me it feels like she roots so there's contact with the reins and she can say, "sorry... I felt pressure on the bit so I thought you wanted me to walk."
  • After cantering in the first direction, she gets anxious about cantering in the second direction, and doesn't really settle back down until we do the second canter.
  • So by the time we canter in the second direction, she's like a rocket, and it's difficult to get her to focus. While trying several different tactics with her yesterday to try and fix this, I might have found a solution, and that's simply to pick a point in our canter where she's done something marginally well, and praise the living daylights out of her. This really helped her settle yesterday, so I'll be trying that one again.
  • After cantering in the second direction, she speed walks around the ring. I can mostly get her to focus on work again, but the walk is super fast.

These are definitely minor things, but they're issues we've had for a long time that I just kind of let slide. I want to figure out a way to get past them so we can move on to bigger and better things!

Such a pretty girl!


  1. Your sweet Western girl looks like she's got a few bucks left in there. Too funny!

  2. Great photos! I'm nearly at 6 months with my new horse and I still feel like we have so much to learn. You and Lilly have been through so much together, I'm sure you will find your groove again. Possibly your 3rd and 4th bullets sound like a horse that has more energy to burn than she lets on, but is also maybe getting fatigued at the lope which is why she tries to go faster - it takes a very fit horse to lope slow. But she's also excited to be working so she keeps the energy up at the walk. Don't you kind of wish they could talk? But only when you wanted them too? LOL. I'm so excited to see how your season progresses!

    1. The fast walk has always been an issue for us, and I do wish I could just ask her what's up. It doesn't make sense to me... you'd think she'd want to just walk and catch her breath. She's lazy about everything else!!