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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 …

In Which Ellie Learns Grown Up Lessons

My riding lessons as of late have been focused on teaching Ellie the basics of leg yield, shoulder in, haunches in (travers), and lengthenings.  On my own at home, I have worked quite a bit with her on shoulder fore, leg yielding in both the walk and trot, and we have practiced variations within the trot gait, so she is familiar with the idea of trotting more forward when asked.  However, on my own I had not asked specifically for shoulder in, haunches in, or lengthenings.
I did that weird app thing on FB where you find out your most used words. 
I didn't post it but took a screenshot instead. Yeah, looks about right for my life! 

It feels as though we spent sooooooo long just getting a solid walk, trot, and canter but now that those basics seems firmly installed, we are moving on up to big girl dressage things.  Ellie seems to enjoy the new challenges and has a strong work ethic and desire to try.  She definitely forgives my mistakes (mostly because she doesn't realize it is a mistake haha) and she doesn't get flustered when I have to ask her multiple times before she understands what I am asking.  Instead of getting annoyed or throwing a tantrum, she just tries to answer the question(s) I ask.  This is actually a nice place to be right now.  


no media of us practicing grown up movements, so here is a recent hack photo

Our leg yielding at walk and trot are quite nice at this point for her level of training.  I think we would score well on the First level trot leg yields, not that we are ready for a First level test just yet haha.
the bugs have died (finally - but now it is freaking cold lol) so no fly bonnet lately

Shoulder fore is my go to aid for controlling Ellie's shoulders and maintaining her bend.  Of course, it helps with straightening her body and is essentially the baby step before shoulder in.  So when Beth felt we should start working in shoulder in, it wasn't a difficult movement for Ellie.  At first, she thought we were just going to leg yield down the long side, so it took me time to coordinate my aids in order to control her shoulders and haunches.  Oh yeah, I have an outside leg that can control her haunches from swinging out......duh.
panorama photo did not upload well here

Lengthenings have been going well, too.  She is a naturally speedy mare, so she is happy to oblige more forward at any moment haha, but the trick is teaching her to not just speed up.  We introduced lengthening on a circle and it seems to be working for her as of now.  Eventually we will do them on the diagonal once they are more established.  She is still learning to reach into the bridle and step from behind, but we have had some really great 5-6 strides of oooooooh that was a nice lengthening after a few repetitions in a ride.  This mare has a motor that I know I can harness for good instead of evil LOL!

By far, the toughest movement we have been working on has been haunches in.  Oh lord, this mare cannot yet wrap her brain around the idea that she can bend and bring her haunch inside as well LOL!  She wants to switch her bend; like if we are on the left rein and obviously bent to the left, when I ask her to step over with my outside leg, she wants to change her neck around to bending right and do a leg yield.  She's not naughty about it, she just doesn't quite understand.  We got it slightly a few times in our lesson a few weeks ago, and I think we are making progress but it is hard without the mirrors at the indoor hahaha.  In last weekend's lesson we played around with it a little bit and she was able to do it properly, but I still don't feel it is anywhere near confirmed.  It is as though I can feel her wheels turning as she tries to listen to my aids and make her body comply.  


autumn is pretty.
and cold.
and means winter is coming (sad)

Overall, it is nice to feel as though we are starting to write in cursive and maybe even use a pen instead of scribbling in crayon LOL!  I am sure with a more competent and professional rider, Ellie would already understand all of these movements, but obviously I am what I am and we are moving at our own pace.  ;-)  It's fun to feel her start moving in a more grown up way, and even though she is coming seven next year and the seven year old test is equivalent to FOURTH LEVEL, I just have to remind myself when I got her a year ago at 5-1/2, she could barely steer and had never been ridden off a lead rope hahaha.

So, therefore, we are good at Training level hahahaha.


Ellie says give me more cookies and I am sure I will learn all the weird things you want me to

Comments

  1. This all sounds so wonderful. I love how hard she tries for you. I love haunches in far more than shoulder in. I like riding into either of them from a 10 m circle and when/if we lose it go back to the circle.

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    1. She really seems to love her job(s), which is definitely a good thing! And I agree about using the 10m circle! That has really helped us.

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  2. look at the colors of your fall foliage. So pretty!! And yes Winter is coming. OH NO :) I am so glad she is doing so well going into the winter time. AND HEY that shit is hard :) Remus is 15 and has a horrible time with haunches in. And he cheats like no ones business at shoulder fore if he can. Course we havent done any of that in FOREVER.

    I love the crayon to pen analogy :) HA HA

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    1. Fall is pretty but WINTER IS AWFUL (crying) hahaha. Seriously, teaching her to move her body in ways she doesn't think is needed is soooo hard. Beth always reminds me that we are no longer scribbling with crayons and I must ride her as such LOL!

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  3. It's always exciting when the young horses start being able and capable of doing more!

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    1. YES! It is such a relief to finally feel like I have a real horse underneath me. Like oh, I have successfully taught you the basics at least LOL!

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  4. A horse who tries to answer the questions you ask without a tantrum is a really special kind of partner to have. I totally agree that it's also a super fun place to be. I'm sure she'll grasp all of these concepts much more firmly by the time spring arrives!

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    1. I am sure there will be plenty of tantrums in her future haha, but it is nice to so far have such a willing partner who just goes through her Rolodex (although still small at this point) to figure it out instead of melting down. She does have a good brain even when she spooks at blowing leaves.......hahahaha!

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  5. She looks so mature in those pictures. She is a lovely mare.

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    1. Thank you! I am thankful to be her person for sure. :-)

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  6. Ellie is so beautiful ❤️ And it sounds like she’s coming along nicely!

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    1. So far, so good! I hope she continues to be happy in her work even as it gets harder! :-)

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  7. Oh man, so fun to be doing these movements with her! I love figuring out what's easy, and not so easy. Macy LOVED haunches in, but Georgie had to work at it. It's just interesting how different they all are. Ellie seems like such a game mare!

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    1. I love teaching her new things and that moment when she finally understands what I am asking! It is funny how they all have their own easy/harder movements. Ellie is a champ and does seem to humor me most days haha!

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