Sunday, November 24, 2013


Finally had a dressage lesson, it's been way too long! I can't even remember when we had the last one, probably sometime this past spring? I never got around to hauling out for a dressage lesson over the summer, though I definitely meant to.

I feel like at this point in Jetta's training, we've reached a plateau where she's as far as I can take her. There's a lot of little things we can work on, especially to get her back to how well she was going over the summer, and I can start teaching her the second level movements and building the basics for third level. But that's as far as I can get in dressage with her without some outside help. And if I want to make things really correct and improve our scores at first/second level, then we need a trainer's help.

Anyways, the lesson. I of course thought that it would be a wonderful idea to take the first lesson spot at 7:30am (I was organizing this clinic for the dressage team). I also thought it would be a good idea to commit to volunteering at 9:30am. So I woke up at a gastly time of 4am to drive to the barn, grab the horses and then pick up the girl that would be riding Misty and get to the barn for our lesson. I ended up planning everything perfectly, but geez it was awful. Not to mention, why on earth are there no coffee shops/gas stations open at 4am?! I needed my caffeine badly...

This is what it looked like when I got there for my lesson. Sunshine where are you??

Add in that it was absolutely freezing, a whopping 21 degrees when we pulled into the barn. Having Jetta and Misty together there was interesting... I haven't trailered them together to an event at all and they've gotten pretty attached since they're now pasturing together. Thus, Jetta was not on her best behavior. With not riding her a ton, I knew she wasn't going to be great. But she was also really tense because she was worrying about where Misty was the whole ride.

That said though, she wasn't completely awful. We had a lot of good moments, showed some clear improvements from our last lesson with KB and she tried.

What we worked on:
  • Leg yielding on a circle to get her paying attention to me as a warm up when she was really worrying about Misty.
  • Leg yielding up the center line, getting her to lower her neck, which is a huge issue for us right now. She has improved a ton since our last lesson, where we also worked on leg yields. She now moves nicely off my leg and doesn't over bend. She's a touch too leading with her haunches, but I'll take it over being sluggish off my leg. Now we just need to work on the neck. KB had me half halt with the outside rein (the theme of our lesson). "Outside rein controls the position of the neck". If Jetta popped her head up, we did a 10m circle and asked for her to lower her neck and tried again. Worked. Like. MAGIC.
  • Cantering, we worked on our shallow serpentine. Turns out, while you're required to show bend in the direction of your lead, I'm asking for too much bend which is throwing her off balance (which is why she rushes in the second half) so I need to ask for her to stay straighter in the neck. Big improvement. 
  • Lengthen trots. Our homework for improving that is to play around with getting her biggest possible trot on a circle, then coming back to a smaller trot, then bigger again. All while asking her to lift the front and and not fall on her forehand. KB said most horses will "discover" their lengthened trot off of this exercise, so we'll see. She said we're going in the right direction for the moment though. 
  • Another tip for the canter was my seat. I have a driving seat, always have and I can't get rid of it. Even if there's some magical way to quiet my seat, I just can't make it work. But instead of making my driving seat quiet and non-existent, KB had me just sit deeper and drive Jetta into longer strides, instead of the short strides that my seat was previously asking for. Also magic improvement.
  • Shoulder-ins were good, KB said I was doing a good job teaching/working on those. Sometimes we get a little bit too much angle and sometimes we drift, but we'll work on that. 
Overall, it was a good lesson. I was disappointed that Jetta didn't behave herself (lots of gnashing on the bit and pulling and rushing, etc) but it wasn't a total loss and we got some great exercises. KB said her gaits are looking nicer than last time (when she was behaving herself anyways) and that she's developed some nice upper neck muscles, despite still bracing the underside of her neck.

Then Misty was next! Another girl on the team rode her. She's not a super advanced rider, but she's not a beginner. Misty was okay for her. She tested her a bit and they struggled with some things that I don't have an issue with, but it was just because they didn't know eachother and KF (the girl riding) had no experience with green horses.

I told KB that Misty was just green in the area of dressage, mainly just because of the contact. What I'd been working on with her was just pushing her forward into contact, getting her more round especially through transitions and working on a nice forward, even tempo. So that's what they worked on again, it was nice to see that she did some of the same things I'd been doing with her.
  • She had  KF start out with a light contact. Misty was being kind of obnoxious and flipping her head/dropping contact, so eventually she had her pick up more contact and if she flipped her head, she'd bend her to the inside to make her stop.
  • When they moved into the trot she had KF really push Misty forward into a really fast trot, just to get her out of the habit of her lazy trot. Misty's auto-trot speed is between a dressage trot and a jog. It's still got nice impulsion and it's pretty, but it's not as fancy as it could be. KF really struggled getting Misty to move forward, which I don't have a problem with, but I think that was just a bit of Misty testing her and KF not knowing exactly how to ask. Misty has some really great looking moments when she was moving out and carrying herself nicely with just the minimum of contact.
  • Cantering was lovely, though KF had trouble asking for it just because she doesn't have a completely independent hand/seat connection. So she'd ask for it and Misty would go to canter but she'd get caught in the mouth a little and it would be a little bit awkward transition. Once they got into it though, it looked very nice. 
  • Transitions, she had some nice improvement. KB had KF sit deeper and ask, instead of letting her hips go with the motion, that way they were able to eliminate the little baby trot steps that happen in the trot to walk transition, mainly going off the seat instead of the reins so that she wouldn't brace. 
Overall, Misty was really good and I really enjoyed watching her go. Plus, KB LOVED her which was awesome. I love it when other people also love your horse :) She really liked her movement and said that she was going to make a nice dressage prospect! So that was awesome. 

I totally meant to take pictures of Misty getting ridden, but it was so freezing (it warmed up to a balmy 23 degrees at the time), that I didn't want to take my hands out of my pockets, even though I was wearing gloves, and I just chatted with KB while I watched. I love getting to talk training theory with someone who knows what they're doing! It's awesome. So we discussed how to teach the flying changes which was really interesting and now I have a lot to mull over in that department.

After we finished up the lessons, I stuck them in their stalls, dropped KF back at her house and went and did my volunteer project for an hour and a half, then picked the ponies back up and went home. I got home at around 12:30, but it seriously felt like 4pm I was so wiped out. Turned Misty out and got to work clipping Jetta. I've been meaning to do it forever, but I finally got my new blades and having a jumping lesson on Sunday was the perfect motivation to get it over with.

I was going to do the same clip as last year, a blanket clip, but got impatient, so I didn't end up clipping a small amount on her flank/hip, but I don't think it will matter that much since she's really only getting ridden 2-3 times a week. But it will make cooling out SO much better. I love having a clipped horse.

Jetta was great for it. I tied her up to do her neck so she couldn't graze. She loved having her chest area and her throatlatch done. Her eyes got half closed and she stayed very still. Then whenever I stopped she'd wake up and fidget. I untied her to do her belly so she could graze. She also loves having her belly done. She'll stop grazing and her lips will wiggle. I'm so glad she loves it! It makes it that much easier. I definitely didn't do my best clip job because I was super impatient. I just eyeballed the whole thing and got it to be relatively even and straight. As long as it wasn't super embarrassing and it was functional, I couldn't care less!

Half naked pony. Now all we need to do is get her mane under control and she'll be looking good!


  1. The mane is okay, she looks pretty good :)

    1. Thanks! The mane is truly atrocious though, I didn't pull it for like 4 months so I just cut it...

  2. Replies
    1. It was FREEZING. I want to move somewhere warmer, lol.