Training Update

No huge improvements.

But there’s a tiny better feel each week.

Her very first rated show this weekend!  The other shows have all been schooling shows, at the same venue.  Now I hope she’ll be good in another brand new place…

We’ll show a basic, Training Level 3.  I’m really hoping for a harmonious test!

Still working toward a lowered, lengthened connection.  Not upright, tight, like so.

horse tight in the neck

It needs to come easier.  Happen earlier in the ride.  Easy to say.  NOT easy to do.

She feels absolutely fabulous when she softens and comes through more, mostly just in the posting trot at the end of the warmup.

posting trot

warming up with grey horse

It lasts for a split second.  Here and there.  Then we’re back to the – really not all that great – again.

She mostly just looks like this all the time.  At best.

horse tight and not forward

No wait!  Sometimes we’re together for 2 seconds!

horse bending through corner


13 thoughts on “Training Update

  1. My daughters, the true riders, want to know:
    ‘What happens if you were to relax on the reins a touch? Do the judges grade down if the reins are looser?’

    Regardless, they say, have fun, enjoy your ride, your show. The scores don’t matter much because you know you and Miss Valiosa gave your best effort. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The goal is to have a consistent, light contact. Some horses, because they aren’t balanced (and are balancing on the rider) have a very heavy contact no matter what the rider does. You can make the reins longer, but if they get floppy you are going to be penalized. It’s a long process to get a consistent light contact with a heavy-headed horse–like the one I happen to own LOL!

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      1. The “combing the reins” exercise you describe below is a good one. My daughters have a done a variation of it with their hunters. Managing the reins, having the “right” touch, is one of those things they’re constantly working on. 🙂

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      2. That’s tough choice Alli – the heavy headed horse, or the race car horse who is too light in the contact but curls under and races around as he pleases… I’ve ridden both kinds, and it can be so exasperating….
        Valiosa is more of a medium, she was way too light earlier in the winter, and now she’s coming more to the bit. We’re just SO unsteady, everything for 1-2 seconds…


    2. A bit looser is OK, but if you’re riding with loose, floppy contact, even where in other disciplines it would be alright, a dressage judge will comment about inconsistent contact. Even in the “stretchy trot” movement, which is a 20 m circle where the horse stretches Down and Out, lifting it’s back, the contact is supposed to be there, light but steady. It’s preparatory for later on in the horse’s education, where movements will come fast, and a “sloppy” connection will make that impossible.
      Argh, it’s difficult 😉
      Thanking you and your girls for the support! We will head out and have fun! 🙂


  2. Yep, I live the same life: two seconds of “Yes, that was it!” followed by a whole lot of “where did it go and how do I get it back? let me try this…no, that’s not working, how about this? Nope. Oh wait, three strides felt great! Darn, lost it again.” And so it goes, dressage as teeter toter, trying to find that elusive balance where the horse holds herself (ah, the joy!) with relaxation and balance and impulsion. Keep searching, it is worth it and it’s the only way forward. Have a great show this weekend – or should I say, Have a FUN show this weekend. Let the scores fall where they may. Enjoy your mare 🙂 and think long journey, each show is just one little step. New venue, she might not be great. Everything she does that is good is a victory. Hope there are many victories!

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    1. This – keeping in mind that it’s a long journey! Training her from scratch is a huge responsibility, (we’ve all met the seasoned show horses that have more than one bad show-personality-trait…) and I will definitely keep in mind that she’s young, green, and is there to grow, not neccesarily show off.
      Well, I don’t think we’ll blow anyones socks off, but a steady test, despite a new venue, would be SO sweet.
      Thank you for cheering us on!!!

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  3. Try this for a few rounds of the arena on your regular training rides (no need to do it before the show, this is a gradual process, not a quick fix). Anyhow, I’ve found that this little routine works really well on “most” horses (gotta have a qualifier there!)–it’s something my trainer calls “combing the reins” although nobody else has probably ever heard of this term. Anyhow, pick up a nice trot, relaxed or not, hold both reins in one hand, keeping that light contact with the one hand, and with the other reach forward a few inches (you’ve kept your fingers on this rein although they are both still held in the other hand) and LIGHTLY slide your fingers back up to where they would be if you were keeping that trot going with both hands. Reach forward with your “free” hand and repeat several times. You should feel the horse begin to stretch forward and reach for the bit a little. Allow when you feel it. If the horse stretches way forward, gently pick up the reins to your starting position and do the same procedure again. This whole exercise is designed to get the horse to stretch forward and reach for the bit on a light contact–no fighting, no pulling. Let me know how it goes for you. Wish I had a video to show you, it would all be so obvious!

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