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Wentworth Hunter Pace - June 6, 2021

After Margaret and I had such a fun time at the fall hunter pace, we opted to go again this spring! This time, while I rode Rejoice again, Margaret rode her horse Jester and had a friend ride Ladyhawke. All Kennebec Morgans!! Jester and Rejoice have the same dam and Jester and Lady share the same sire. Unfortunately instead of a lovely late spring day, we had one of the first intensely hot and humid days of the year. It was definitely a bummer, but the ride was mostly in the shade of the woods and we had a great time!  most of the fences were 3' coops but we found a small log and this hay to jump haha Until we didn't. 😑 We brought along a third friend who rode Margaret's older mare, Ladyhawke. She's a good rider but hasn't known Ladyhawke for very long and didn't realize how much of a cranky boss mare she could be at times. She kicked Jester right in the front leg just about halfway through the ride, and while the cut itself ended up not being a big deal in the

Lessons and Progress

After starting summer vacation last Wednesday, this has been the first full week off.  It has been SUPER busy, but I cannot complain!
this is one of my favorites of summer: lunch on the porch!
Ellie and I have had three lessons this week, which is crazy.  I wish this was real life haha, but sadly it is just a fluke this week.  We took our regular weekly lesson on Sunday instead of Saturday, as my husband had a pull with his young steers on Saturday.  It was their second pull of the year/of their lives and they did well.

the rare appearance of steers on the blog haha

Then, of course, we had the XC clinic on Monday (her regular day off), so I gave her Tuesday off instead.  And now that summer has arrived, I moved my weekly dressage lessons to Wednesdays, so I figured what the heck, might as well start this week!  So that is how we ended up with lesson #3 of the week yesterday.

Generally, with weekly lessons I have good homework to do in between so it was kinda weird not having a regular dressage school on our own before seeing Beth again haha.  And I have been skipping the lesson the weekends I have a show, since being gone all morning on Saturday and then for a show the next day was too much as a mom/wife for me personally.  I try to make time to be home and get things done around the house/farm that doesn't get done during a work week.  It was a good pattern while I was working, but now I plan to lesson every Wednesday all summer.

Anyway, we worked a lot on our canter this week in both lessons.  Because of Ellie's inclination to always want to pick up the left lead despite the rein we are on haha, I have really been thinking about controlling her shoulders.  When going right, I have her bent properly but right when I ask for the right lead transition, she would pop her right shoulder out and step into the left lead.  Last week after our show, when I picked up my last test, Beth told me to try leg yielding a few steps before asking for the right lead.  We worked on it all week alone and it really helped!  By asking for a leg yield, I was more easily able to control her shoulder and keep them straight enough for the correct right lead.

This past Sunday's lesson we really worked on this idea.  It was lovely to FINALLY have some progress because while I knew the lead issue would eventually resolve, I needed to be taught HOW to resolve it in a way that I could continually replicate.  And I wanted to fix it sooner rather than later.  By Beth having me do steps of leg yield, I was able to coordinate my aids properly to "catch" that rogue right shoulder.  There was actually one less than perfect transition where I could feel her start to pop the right shoulder out, and I was able to correct it so that she moved her shoulder back to where it should be and then we struck off into the right lead correctly!  Whooo!  This doesn't sound like much now that I write it here, but honestly, to be able to feel the shoulder move that much and the correction actually WORK helped me as a rider.  It happened slow enough for me to register everything haha.  Even though I knew what she was doing in my mind, feeling it and how I fixed it helped me so much.  And it may have been an ugly upward transition because of the correction, but I was able to make it proper and much nicer in the end.  As Beth put it, we are entering second grade now and it is no longer just enough to be happy that she picked up the gait, now I have to fine tune the transition.  It was sooooo much better than having her pick it up incorrectly and have to fix it by coming back to trot and asking again or having her do a flying change (which she actually figured out quite well haha).

Wednesday's lesson featured all correct leads (because the leg yielding is working well, even just two steps) but now it is time to start teaching her to not just canter on the correct lead, but to start to really balance that canter with my outside aids.  This is hard work right now, because Ellie is like y u bending me right when we r goin left dis is not what u teach me mom.  But she cannot motorcycle around a canter circle any longer or canter as fast as a racehorse haha.  It is time to start asking for balance and straightening her body and slowly the tempo.  Not only is Ellie a bit confused about how to react to the new aids, it is also just literally hard work for her body as she learns how to canter properly in balance and with the right amount of impulsion.  This isn't something that is going to happen overnight.  She can hold a lovely, balanced canter together together right now for about two 20m. circles and needs a trot break, and I know that is OK for now.  We need to build up to more.  Just like she had to learn about how to fill the outside rein and bend properly in walk and trot, now it is time to do that in canter.  
the struggle of sharing the ring with my ox pulling husband... 🙄🤦‍♀️😂
We also did a super exercise for her with bending lines through X at the trot.  Obviously bending lines are good on their own, but we also did a 10m. circle exercise that really got her thinking about changing the bend.  For example, say we are going on the left rein at the trot.  I would come through the corner at F and do a 10m. circle to the left to D.  Then continue to X and do a 10 m. circle to the right to B.  Then continue to M and do a 10m. circle to the left at M to G.  So basically it was a bending line FXM but with 10m. circles where the changes of bend occur.  It REALLY got her on my aids and ready for changes in bend. 

It was a great two dressage lessons in a short amount of time because it really stepped up where we are at right now.  We had missed two weeks worth of lessons because of back to back shows on the 10th and 17th, so our last lesson previous to this week had been June 2.  So much of Ellie's training since I got her just nine short months ago has just been on a slow steady incline with tiny plateaus here and there, but this week really felt like we made a bigger step forward than normal.  I know we will plateau more as the work gets harder, but for now I am loving her progress.  

It is also really fun to hear Beth make remarks about how fixing this stuff and making it absolutely correct NOW will make things easier in the future.  My initial goal I spoke aloud to her in our first ever lesson in April was that I want to definitely do First level and maybe even Second "someday" down the road.  So for Beth to say, fixing her straightness now will help with tempis made me giggle.  And at one point when we were cantering she said, "See how much more you have her hindquarters straight?  Fixing this now will make pirouettes that much easier!"  So maybe buying this shadbelly someday will actually happen hahahaha.  ;-)  Honestly, I just want her to have rock solid dressage basics no matter how long it takes, but it is really exciting to have an instructor who thinks Ellie has the ability to do FEI someday.  I don't know that I have what it takes haha, but it is fun to think about and know she sees talent in us. 

We are off to another dressage show this weekend at a new venue to me.  They also had 2-phase divisions listed in the omnibus besides the dressage tests, so I figured I would sign her up for the Pre-Elementary division, which is Intro B and 18" crossrails.  It seemed like a good end to our busy week!  

I mailed the entry and check on June 12, but when they posted times yesterday, I did not see us on the list.  When I called, I was told they never got my entry (ummm whut?) and could only fit me into dressage tests because no one signed up for any 2-phase divisions.  I was like, uhh but I did......(sad face).  Oh well.  They were nice enough to stick us in to Intro B and C so I can at least get my last scores to qualify for Intro level year end awards.  I think we will aim for a 2-phase in July and try Training 1 as well.  Maybe if our two jumping lessons go well in July, we can consider a baby level three phase in August or early fall!  All I know is that this is shaping up to be a fun summer of lessons and showing!

I really feel like I’ve got my life together when my shirt matches my tall riding socks which match my saddle pad which matches Ellie’s bridle which matches her fly bonnet... 😂😂😂


  1. Um, having seen that shad in person, you def need to make FEI your goal and take the matchy matchy to the next level 😍 or just buy it to lounge around the house in 😂

    Sounds like a week full of learning and good experiences, hooray! I like the idea of leg yield to help with picking up correct leads, will have to remember to try it!


    1. Hahaha I keep thinking I ought to just nab it now, because ya know, what if they stop making them!?!?! I even have it open in a tab and keep gazing at it. But the price tag slows my roll a bit haha.

      It has been a great week! And definitely try the leg yield on a circle just before the canter transition, just a few steps to control that inside shoulder. MAGIC!

  2. That sounds like a wonderful lesson. And I smiled at your description of how feeling the shoulder and fixing it was so awesome. Because it is. Good luck a the show!

    1. Thank you! And I am glad you understand about fixing something under saddle, because as I wrote it, I realized it didn't sound nearly as good as it was in the moment haha.

  3. how have you not bought that shad yet? Like even just to make lunch for the kiddo? COME ON :) HA HA HA I love Ellie's attitude. She is just so eager. And your matchy match game is ON POINT. I wouldnt know how to ride 3 days in a week :) HA I hvaent ridden in so long now i cant remember. And great idea of leg yielding for canter. Remus every once in a while blows his lead. This may help.

    1. Right???? It needs to be MINE! *grabby hands* I am just not feeling the price tag at the moment haha. $529 but currently marked down to $459 *gulp*

  4. Replies
    1. Haha I was like OMFG if I have to hook this beast of a trailer up one more time this week......LOL!! ;-) Tough problem to have!

  5. Definitely sounds like a really productive lesson, I love when Trainers are able to break things down to help us actually ride!

    1. Me too! It is so helpful to ride with someone who is willing to explain things well. I have really lucked out with Beth!


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