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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 …

Riding the Greenie and a Baby Canter!

Ellie is a blast to ride, despite the fact she is pretty green.  She's a forward little compact sports car, completely different from the Standardbreds I have been riding for the past fourteen years.  She is the horse I grew up riding and my skill set for riding a horse like her has started to come back to me.  However, this time around I also have all the skills gained from teaching my Standardbreds to move like dressage horses, so I'm excited.  I personally brought Dreamy along to showing First Level/schooling Second from a broodmare who had never been backed (which isn't some huge accomplishment, but it wasn't easy!), so I feel hopeful that Ellie and I will eventually have a strong competitive career.  And of course, we will do other fun things like trail riding, driving, chasing cows, going sidesaddle...you know, all the cool stuff I did with Sparky and Dreamy that made them both so enjoyable and versatile!
I totally begged my 13 year old to take a few pics on Saturday, because I was dying to see what she looked like haha

She looks as cute as expected!   😍
We have worked out some of the typical greenie problems, like steering and how leg can mean forward AND sideways, but she still has a ways to go obviously.  I am still briefly lunging her before I ride, which I do want to phase out sooner rather than later, but she seems to find comfort in the routine of lunging before I hop on.  I am patiently working with her on standing still to be girthed (she likes to swing one step to the side) and has come a long way about standing still at the mounting block.  She now stands still while I mount, but wants to move off the moment my butt touches the saddle.  It will just take time and practice.  She is definitely full of energy and does well when the expectations and boundaries remain the same all the time.



I have been pleased that she is beginning to understand that inside leg means move over underneath herself and therefore she is starting to understand the outside rein.  She is much easier to ride into the left outside rein, but that has seemed to be typical of most horses I have ridden in my life.  I also wonder how much of this is my own body dynamics, as I know I tend to hang on the left rein and have a stronger right leg.  Because of her small 14.1 pony stature, when she does relax through her topline and give to the inside rein, her stride easily extends and I can tell once she figures this whole thing out, she will consistently have a big horse stride in a little horse body.


Ohhhhh hello dressage horse
After some really low key and consistent trot-canter and canter-trot transitions on the lunge, I decided this past weekend I would try a canter under saddle.  I am told that they never cantered her under saddle before at her home farm, so this was something I can say I did with her for the first time!  Ellie was super good and unphased about the entire thing, which was great!  No rushing, no tension, decent balance for her age and training, and a lovely three beat canter.  And when asked to go back to the trot, she just did it, without any tension or rushing or anything.  It was......absolutely LOVELY.


Wheeee!!!
It is funny, because it still amazes me that she will canter so easily from the trot; Standardbreds will just trot faster and faster and FASTER because they are so conditioned to not break on the track.  Ellie just pops into the canter when I swing the lunge line a bit towards her rump and kiss to her.  Uhhh that's it?  You just canter like that?  Hahaha!  And her canter is already 90% better than all the Standardbreds I have ever ridden.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Standardbreds, all three of them I have owned and trained, but man, I DO NOT miss the canter struggles.  And the balance struggles.  And just the general struggles of training.  Ellie will have her own set of struggles, but I personally as a rider just needed a change.  :-)



She is definitely more balanced going right at the canter, but that will be easily sorted out as she becomes stronger and fitter.  We have gone out to hack in the Christmas tree field closest to our ring again a few times and she was super calm.  She is brave and inquisitive, and I daresay is starting to trust me.  She nickers when she sees me now, but let's face it, that's probably because I am the food lady haha.


Left lead not as balanced, but still not terrible!
I have been trying to ride her 3-4 times a week, both weekend days and twice during the work week, and so far I am able to keep to that schedule. I need to start incorporating ground work into our training, but I kind of jumped the gun and wanted to get her started under saddle before we have to (mostly) quit for the winter/snowy months.  I know all too soon we will have thigh high snow and be stuck to the plowed barnyard area, which is perfect for ground work and learning about scary things like tarps.  I have reached out to a somewhat local instructor named Sherry (who has an indoor!) and while she is hunter-jumper focused, I know she understands dressage concepts and the training of young horses.  I am hoping to set up some lessons and to give me an opportunity to trailer Ellie off the farm to a new place.  Plus, she would be a good person to help us in our jumping eventually. My dressage instructor, Judy, does not have an indoor, but perhaps in the spring we can head over there as well.  It has been FOREVER since I did lessons with Judy!  I love taking lessons and it will be good for Ellie to get off the farm and learn to settle in at new places in order to get ready to eventually show.  


So far, so good.  Ellie has just fit right in and I am loving the challenge and fun that comes along with training a young horse.  I feel excited about setting and meeting goals as a rider that maybe were not attainable in the past.  
Neck pats for a good mare

Comments

  1. Such a cute little sports car! She looks very balanced and together for a green bean/drunk goldfish :)

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  2. Morgans are so nifty and naturally balanced. I love how she looks.

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  3. She looks great! I love how easily she is adjusting to your work!

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  4. She's super cute! You guys look great. And horses that whinny and greet you are seriously the best (I have chased around hard-to-catch Apollo for too many years haha)

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  5. LOVE Her and may just steal her so watch out for people from Delaware swooping in and taking her LOL! Great job! You look fantastic on her too! WHOHOOO! So excited....

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  6. She is adorable! You look great on her already, and it has only been a matter of weeks! I am glad you got a good one, I hope that everything ends up being easy ;)

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