6 Years Old!

6 year old horse

Gray Mare turning 6.

No big party, don’t think she expected one either, but we will have a full week of riding.

horse birthday

Early August she’ll probably have some straight 8-9 days off.  Until then, we’ll continue to work on improving on – well, all the stuff that needs improvement 🙂

She’s grown up to be a much stronger, developed, and “almost mature” young horse.  Well, although at a trail ride last week she flared her little temper;  stomping and pawing impatiently with her front leg when she had to stand again to open a gate.  Not very mature…

Happy Birthday, strong-willed mare friend!

6 year old horse

celebrating birthdays for pets

Identifying Your Training Issues – And Comping Up With A Plan!

engaging the inside hind on trot circle

Let’s do this again!

Last training update post in early June, Current Riding Struggles, with many pictures was a hit, so here we go with another one.

The purpose of this post is to highlight some, not all, of the holes in our training.  You can try this on your own too, looking at pictures and identifying some of them, and deciding what to focus on.  It really helps!

But first, check out Gray Mare, finally using her inside hind.  (At least sometimes.)  Cheers for improvement!

engaging the hind leg in canter transition


Today, shots of some of the “fuglies” I’m working on.  It’s one thing to know what’s right, a whole other thing to actually ride it, right..?

Welcome to chime in with anything in comments below.

Sometimes some sassiness.  Because she wants to have an opinion about many things.  Not super often, so this is more of an observation than anything.

bucking into canter


Riding from the outside rein.  Everybody knows this is the key, still, how hard is it to let go of relying on the inside rein!?!  Super hard for me, I forget to think about it as soon as other stuff crops up.  Maybe you’re like me, where one hand wants to do more of the work?

Here, releasing the right is a piece of cake.  The left though, in the other direction, keeps doing too much, and it’s harder to ride her off the outside, right, rein correctly.

riding from the outside rein


Staying centered over the back.  Even when preparing for something else.  Or, seriously, extra well when prepping for something.

Coming in to a loop of counter canter, I’m suddenly leaning in through the corner, “helping?”, I don’t know.  It’s not helping 🙂

leaning in to corners


Not falling apart in the corners.  Here’s where she’s gotten too strong in the canter on the short side, I’m no longer riding from the seat, she’s fallen off the outside rein, and we’re cowboying around from the sneaky left hand.

Excellent way to put the horse on the forehand and give up any chance of staying together like a team across the diagonal.    I put this picture here so I can look back at it one day and say “Hey, this is gone now.”

turning for the inside rein

Training goal:  Establish a truer connection on the right rein.  (Yay for setting a goal!)

Getting it right sometimes.  So much easier for her to do something, anything, coming out of the corner like this!

balanced in canter through corner


Blowing and snorting.  OK, maybe not a real issue, (healthy really.) but when she’s processing something, releasing and letting go, while cantering, this goes on.  And on.

Sometimes she does it so many times I’ll loose all focus and forget what we were working on.  (Her party trick, sneaky way to end canter and walk.)  Somebody asked from another post what I meant, and why I don’t ignore it, so here you go.   Classy seat!

blowing and snorting in canter


Engaging the inside hind more on the circle.  Forever issue for many.  For her, super challenging, she’s gotten away with not really doing it much, and she can get flustered there.  It will be so cool when she’ll mold her self around the inside aid, easily.  One day!

engaging the inside hind on trot circle

Anyone who wants to chime in on Training Issues are welcome!

A Few More Show Shots

elinor yee dressage on a dime

Just because I don’t head out and compete super often.

Best to make the most of it! 🙂

And because my husband was so nice and a super star to stick around in the heat for both tests, taking so many pictures.  Very sweet!

first level test 2 2017 dressage


The counter canter loop – she did it well (go Gray Mare!) but I piloted just a bit too shallow, not quite hitting X.  Easy to do, you just want to get back to the corner 🙂

counter canter loop in dressage first level test 3


Next up will be a post on some training issues – yes, with pictures of all the “uglies!’  Figured many of you will recognize a lot of it, and I think it’s so cool when you want to stand on the sidelines and yell out helpful hints.  I’ll promise to try whatever you have to say!

elinor yee dressage on a dime

Surprising Show Results – And The Secret To Surviving Heat

showing dressage in the heat

Sunday, in the baking hot inferno, Gray Mare did really well at First Level again.

Although everyone else said it was soooo much better, you know, since it wasn’t even 108 like the day before.

15 m canter circle

Quick secret to surviving horse shows in the heat – spend hours, for weeks, working with them in the heat first.  Fully clothed, no Scandinavian dilly dallying with water misters and shortened days.  Absolutely no breaks indoors in A/C.

I deal incredibly poorly with heat, so to enhance the process, I’ve added some daytime runs in the sun.  (Sometimes panicking, stopping behind a retirement center to rinse off with their garden hose, but why admit that publicly?..)

So there you go – horse show heat conquered!

horse blogs

Valiosa did wonderfully, although mostly rode like a tense ball at both First Level Test 2 and First Level Test 3.  Goal this year:  figure out how to ride the tense ball better.

Today, photobomb.

first level test 3

The free walk in both tests got an 8.5!   Quarter-Cross mare delivered the impossible!  She never fails to surprise. ⇓

free walk at first level


dressage blogs

Trot lengthening.

trot lengthening


This time out, she was sensitive and with some engine.  The first canter transition, with a kick, buck, and this interpretative snake move got only a 3.

bucking at shows

The score for First Level Test 2 was 64.7 (Yay!)

Elinor Yee

In First Level Test 3  she scored 60.1, with 7.5 on one canter transition, and only 3 on the other where we got the wrong lead and got very disconnected on the diagonal.  (It’s our specialty, so no surprise there.)

So happy with her and she’s showing a lot of potential.  She won both classes – not expected as the second test is more of a challenge with the counter canter and other small but more difficult things.

Very lucky to have this mare and friends who let us come along out to shows!  Thank you for all your help!

showing dressage in the heat

Showtime On Sunday!

dressage horse on the bit

Gray mare will make it to the showring again this weekend.

Half the accomplishment right?  Just making it there; fit, healthy, ready, paperwork in order, time and money and transportation in place.  Just as happy every time it works out!

horse blogging
My wonderful supportive husband may just show up and take pictures again in one of the tests. Not sure we need any more geeky ones like this 🙂

Same venue, Valiosa has been there many times over and will act like the pro she isn’t.

calm dressage horse at show

If we make it to another show location next time, I’ll have to be ready for a lot more tension.  Hopefully less than in Lodi, where she bolted and we almost left the ring.

Sunday, she’ll go in First Level Test 2 and First Level Test 3.  Bit of a stretch there with Test 3 but some time has to be the first.  Fun times!


Go Gray Mare!

dressage horse on the bit

Breaking In Tall Boots

breaking in new tall boots

Bending and flexing…

In the old boots, the Ariat Volant’s that simply won’t die, (Announced their death last winter but they haven’t decomposed yet.) tacking up is no problem.

bending in tall boots

Somehow stuck with three new, or newish, pairs that need full breaking in.  Riding with the zippers open at the top, heel lifts, and tack sponges folded at the top edge, is more of a survival strategy.  They still hurt and chafe.  Who’s got time for that?!

Absolutely no bending like this in them.

breaking in new tall boots

Current offenders are the Ariat Volant V’s, the Ariat Volant S’s, and the De Niro Ride and Fly’s.  Good times!

Magical Breaking In Tips welcome 🙂