Saturday, February 13, 2016

Changing Up the Order

Thursday I got in another great ride on Lilly. I stuck with the 30 minute routine again, but changed it up a bit this time, and I think it worked out much better for Lilly, which in turn made it better for me!

Normally, when I ride, it always goes something like this: walk and warm up exercises (poles, circles, bending, etc) in both directions, jog and canter in one direction. Then I reverse, jog and canter in the opposite direction. Once I've checked all the boxes, I work on whatever wasn't feeling quite right or needs to be worked on. I end the ride with a nice cool down, and we play with stuff like sidepassing, leg and seat only cues, and finally a bit of showmanship after I dismount.

I've pretty much done my rides this way for years because it seems the logical progression... warm up at the walk and jog before moving on to the canter. Being a creature of habit, though, Ms. Lilly anticipates the second canter, which is something I mentioned in my last post. Once that first canter is out of the way, she seems to stay focused on when I'm going to ask for it again.

We run into the same issue in the show ring too. She knows it goes walk, trot, canter, reverse, walk, trot, canter, and every time she hears the speakers click, she tries to move on to the next task without waiting for me to ask. It drives me crazy, but there's not much I can do about that at the show, other than school of course, but the order is always going to be the same, and I can only wait so long after the click to ask for the next movement.

Anyway, last night I decided switch things up. I did a really good warm-up at the walk and jog in both directions and did the canter last. We worked on the first canter and the second canter at the same time because I opted for figure eights, asking for simple changes in the middle. There was no anticipation, and she stayed much more focused and relaxed.

She still gave me a very fast walk at the end of the canter exercises, but I'm starting to think that she's cooling herself out, thinking she's done after cantering. That's what happens a lot of the time, so I've probably taught her that myself without even realizing it.

I need to be more mindful about the exercises we're doing and the order we're doing them. That way, she doesn't know what's coming next and I'll have a horse that is better about not anticipating.


  1. I make it a habit to do different things in my warm up. I often start with lots of serpentines at the walk and then jog, but I never put us in a routine that he can learn to zone out and anticipate. Sometimes it's square corners, sometimes round, sometimes I'll do boxes or loops instead of only serpentines. Sometimes I'll stop somewhere and ask for a spin or a stop/back. Or maybe we'll start by walking and drilling some quick stop/backs or rollbacks. Sometimes I lope circles, sometimes along the rail. I do tend to work walk and trot both directions before I ask for either canter. We also change it up a lot where some days we just go walk the trails. Some we just do ground work or showmanship. We've been playing with a lot of obstacles lately and occasionally we work the flag. You might try the Arena Exercises book to get some ideas, too. I'm SO glad you're getting back to riding more!

    1. I'm doing so much better at this! I just have to keep in mind that doing the same thing over and over again is like the worst thing for her. I don't have any trails on the property, but the barn does have a little side area with poles and stuff. I need to take her out there and ride sometimes too.

      I actually have that book... I've been searching for it, and I finally found it! Thanks for the reminder!!