Contact At The Walk

The walk with Valiosa has been more difficult than I ever thought it would be.

Especially when there are so many other, hard, things to work on. But she really wants to stay resistant in the walk.  Short stride, pushing back, strung out or more tense and upright.  Get the walk right, and she’ll feel fantastic.

Been lucky to be able to pull off a focused instruction period – 16 sessions, back-to-back, which is a huge change in consistency when you do most training on your own.

It’s awesome!  Halfway through now, can’t wait to see where we get in the next two weeks.

medium walk contact at first level

Getting her just a little more listening to the leg, quicker, straighter – this is the twistiest horse ever – and softer in everything.  But it’s the walk that tips off if she is between the aids in the beginning.  Or not.

contact when riding at the walk

Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get her to the same feel on my own when we go back to training alone most of the time…

Sure you’ve been there too – fantastic lessons where your horse feels fabulous.  Then we’ve got to figure out how to get back there.  I’ll show you pictures next week of how she’s coming along!



Trending Mare Things That Need To End Now

Mare Habits

  • Snubbing almost every supplement.
  • Sniffing the manure shovel and then spooking at it.
  • Sharting when you pick the hinds.
  • Slobber-muzzle rubbing across clean shirts.
  • Standing heat.
  • Scrubbed tails, where the top ends up looking like a pine cone.



Spanking new supple stirrup leathers make up for it all!  Soft and awesome!  Pinecone tail in the background…

supple stirrup leathers

News From The Farm

Last month had the first weeks of “quiet” at our training barn.

Between 18-20 horses with trainers, grooms, owners, and some riders moved out.  Around 25 lucky ones still there (Can’t keep track.) and between all the activities, it wasn’t all that quiet after all 🙂

riding without other horses in the arena

Barn management does a fantastic job keeping a clean, well-run facility, and prep work before shows starts days before.

In May alone, there was a 2-Day jump show.  Then a 3-day dressage show.  Then another 3-day dressage show.  With riders coming in early before the show and all sorts of prepping, weeding, cleaning and lights installed in the portable show stalls for the season.

Great stuff –  we need lots of that while schooling!  To stay focused with distractions around, you’ve got to have some distractions.

Other news; a short-term training opportunity for Valiosa and I this month.  Very exciting, and definitely not planned for earlier in the spring.  More later!

She had 5 days off since I got really sick, and then sort of pathetic work since it’s hard to ride when you’re still sick…  Today:  Day 10 – Fresh start!

Rice Puff says Hi!

rice puff horse

Braid Poll Result

Unanimous vote for the larger braids

Thank you for voting – already over 25 votes for the sewn-style so far.

Dressage On A Dime A Horse For ElinorQuietly dying, who wouldn’t want to cut the prep time some and just do the rubber bands..?

Not giving up just yet – Alli had a great link for braids with a thicker mane.  I’ve also got another rubber band style that still gives the softer, larger look, without sewing…

We’ll call that one The Flyinge Swedish Pretzel style.

Valiosa and pasture friends have looked fat like ticks all spring, even with no hay fed for months.

Leaving with a picture from the end of last summer, when she seemed so heavy.  Looking slim in this picture, compared to now.

perfect weight andalusian cross mare

Your Show Warm-Up Strategy

Care to share a dressage show warm-up tip?  I know there’ll be many that’d like to read it!

For Valiosa’s warmup after two earlier days of rushed, spooky and more stressed out warm up, my only goal was to have her go on the aids without too much tension before going in the ring.

canter on the forehand

Super pleased with her for pulling off a sort of “blah” canter, despite multiple other horses in the arena, announcers, and audience.  Success!

relaxing a horse in the warm up at a show

My goal was to have her reasonably attentive and when there were more than 7 horses in there we did several walk-trot transitions instead of trying to fight for space.

Some trainers like to warm up their student’s horses really forward and deep.  Really proud of Valiosa for doing her thing just with me, even when some ponies came close and large horses breathed heavily down her hind.

trainers warming up horses for riders at shows

Have a warm-up tip, below Fourth Level? We’re all ears!!

focused warm up before dressage show
Madame Muffin Cup, keepin’ it together beautifully for a minute.

Writing & Reading To Ride Better

Always amazed at the incredible level of support the reader community can offer.

Thank you to everyone who invests time in commenting and reading the posts here!  I’ve never reposted any comments – but this one is a must read!

First; Your Daily Dose of Duchess Rice Dream.

classical dressage philosophy


This is from Tonia.  We both clearly play on the same team.  Enjoy!

“…  A bit of good old classical dressage wisdom, which is that we as riders should ask ourselves regularly–why are we doing this? Why do we ride? For some people, the answer is they want to be at the top of the sport…to compete, win and be the best. But for me (and probably–hopefully–for most equestrians) the answer is because I love horses. I have loved them since I was barely old enough to recognize that feeling.
… With that answer in mind, and channeling my inner nine-year-old-self, I go out and do the things that are hard and scary and that progress us forward…  if at any point I start to lose touch with the core reason I am doing all this, then I know I am on the wrong track and I need to take a step back and return to a place of love and enjoyment again, wherever that may be.
This idea of love and enjoyment over competition/progress/goals was reiterated so eloquently to me recently at a lecture I attended by Paul Belasik …it was such a good reminder and came at a really good time for me, when I was in the throes of being hard on myself for what I felt was slow progress over the past couple years (during which time I had a baby, ahem).
I’m passing on that reminder now–not to suggest you should take a step away from showing, but because this concept enabled me to loosen the grip that perfectionism and competitiveness had on me at that time and allowed me to just ENJOY THIS, no matter where we are or what we’re doing or how “good” we’re doing it.” (Tonia)

Find Tonia at Peace Love Horses.

Until next time!

riding dressage
If you haven’t aleady – cast your vote for braid style in Sunday’s post!