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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Finally, a lesson!

I was finally able to take a lesson with my awesomely wonderful instructor Judy last week, Thursday, July 8.  YAY!  It was the day before I left for a dressage show, so it was great timing.  It was hot but worth it!  

I love riding lessons for so many reasons.  I love learning new things, getting good immediate feedback on my horse, getting "homework" to work on until my next lesson.....and I love my instructor.  (Are you reading this, Judy?  LOL!)  She lives close to me, she is easy to talk to, she does not make me feel dumb when I don't understand something, she supports me even though I ride a Standardbred, and she knows her stuff!  And she explains things in a way I understand...I guess she matches my learning style!  :)  Seriously, she is the reason Dreamy and I have progressed as far as we have.  Yes, I work my patootie off, but having someone like Judy has been invaluable.

So my PSA for today?  Find an instructor who you adore.  It is fun to have lessons and be a student!  And I usually only take a lesson every other week to help on my pocketbook so I can show too! 

Anyway, I really just wanted Judy to see where we were at, give me some good feedback, and I NEEDED HOMEWORK!  LOL!  I am such a teacher.  :P  The biggies right now are the connection in the canter (I like to let my reins get too long, which makes Miss Dreamy get strung out) and getting Dreamy into the outside rein when we track left.  She has been a bugger about staying in my outside (right) rein to the left, and I know we can do it because she can do it at the walk.  But something weird was happening at the trot.  I was desperately trying as much "inside leg to outside hand" as I could, but I knew I could be doing something better.  

Judy seemed pleased with how Dreamy was going.  I felt proud of our hard work this year.  She had me work on doing turn on the haunches and shoulder-in/shoulder-fore tracking left to really push Dreamy into that outside rein.  She was really resistant to me, which was good at the lesson.  I hate when I am having an issue at home that magically resolves itself at a lesson.  Then I cannot get any help!  :P

Dreamy was actually trying to turn right when I took up real contact with the right rein as we tracked left!  ACK!  I knew I must be doing something wrong as well.  But I started to feel everything change as we tried some shoulder-in work down the long side at the trot, then to the walk, turn on the haunches across the ring, trot shoulder-in, turn on the haunches, etc. until we made a big "box".  It started to help and I was happy to feel that.  I think I have been riding Dreamy too heavily on my left rein to the left, so it is going to take some time.  And Dreamy ALWAYS likes any excuse to not take a completely true connection to the bit, so if she can fudge it she will.  LOL!

At the canter we did an exercise that really worked well........I picked up the working trot rising, got a good balanced rhythm, and then sat on Dreamy and thought about almost walking.  Judy called it a "tiny trot".  As she said, it was not as though the steps of the trot got smaller, but they stayed the same as the working trot; instead I had to sit up, sit deep, and Dreamy had to simply slow down her tempo.  This made for some nice balanced canter departs.  They are usually pretty balanced anyway, but really thinking about a "tiny trot" beforehand made me sit better which of COURSE made my horse move even better.  We cantered about 3/4 of the way around a 25ish meter circle before coming back to that tiny trot.  Having to really sit and use my core muscles was hard, but it felt so much better than just "BLAH" falling into the trot and starting to post.  And this will help Dreamy balance more after the canter.....and of course get even better scores on those transitions!  ;-)

Of course, then we had a weekend dressage show (more on that later!!!!), and Sunday I became horridly sick.  I figured it was a virus, suffered all through Monday, and by this past Tuesday realized I needed to get to the doctors.  I knew it before they told me....I have strep throat!  UGGGGG!  No fun, especially when you are on your summer break!  LOL!   And I majorly crash when I have strep, and while I had it a lot as a kid, it has been MANY years since I have suffered with it.  Usually I get it during the cold/flu season, so WHO KNOWS why I got it in July!?!?  So, Dreamy got a few extra days off this week.  :(  But I did ride her yesterday for a short time (yeah, stupid me, riding with strep throat and only about 7 hours since I started antibiotics) and tonight.  She is going so well.  :)  And doing both the turn on the haunches/shoulder-in and "tiny trot" exercises have begun to show some signs of progress!  :)

I have a NEDA Flextime lesson this week with Jennifer Wilson-Horr of Cedar Hill Farm, which is exciting.  And I have another lesson with Judy for next week.  Now that lessons are back in full swing, I will have lots more training advice and tips, based on what Dreamy and I are doing!  :)


  1. Yes, I love lessons. They always make me feel so simultaneously dumb and smart. My standie mare LOVES dressage, and my dressage teacher loves her. I think Fiddle thinks that I'm a huge impediment to her Grande Dressage Future. LOL.


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