Barn Time – The Black Hole

morning dove at barn

-“So if you’re no longer doing any work or chores at the barn, how come it’s been almost 5 hours since you left and came back?”

Recent question at home…

Well, sometimes it just takes.  Longer.

barn bird
Barn bird. Waiting for oats

That day was one of those days where I could see her sleeping when driving in.  Her two sentries stood guard, two quiet drones watching over her, one hind cocked but alert.

Gray puff-ball laid in a regal pose with her head propped up on the ground.  Deep sleep.  Gave her a few extra minutes before finally walking out there.

She’s decided there’s no longer any reason for alarm when I go to her while laying down.  Never gave her any reason in the first place.  So she stayed down, of course I had to stand there for a while with the others, guarding sort of.

Carrots in bed, some mane scritches, a strange cat-like stretch-move while laying down, and she could finally be convinced to come up.  That stuff takes time.

Part of the reason I have her in the first place – to enjoy her whale-like body and watch her doing strange things.  And sometimes watching birds together.

morning dove at barn
Another barn bird

At the end of riding there was an opportunity to try out a Haflinger for a few minutes.  Haven’t ridden one for many years, so why turn that down?

She also needed to have her mane mutilated while icing her hinds, so we did that with scissors too.

Plus, she wouldn’t finish her grain in the stall where she stands for a while before going back out, so she needed pieces of apple rolled in the left over salt to get her to eat it.

gray horse standing with rider
Wasn’t exactly a time-efficient barn day.


Riding Troubles – Free For All

dressage horse stretching on circle

A bunch of pictures where the horse looks Game On…

With stuff looking alright.  What’s fun with that, if it only lasts a few moments here and there..?

Today is Training Trouble Day!

Plenty of issues going on over here, wasn’t hard to pick some!  Come on, share your most pressing riding issues.  If anything, just to cheer me up.  🙂  I’ll go first!

She’s still very unsteady in the connection.

We’ll be going along nice, smooth, focused and together, and then tweeeeek!  She’ll shorten, stiffen, and wobble her neck.

twisted neck in dressage

Or, she can do a short, beautiful half 10 meter radius in canter, only to have major steering troubles on a 20.  Keeps you on your toes for sure.

dressage horse over bending to the stiff side
She’s still very wobbly. But in a stiff way. Like riding a frozen seal. Never rode one, but I imagine that’s what it would feel like.

Neck bulges out when going left, and does tweaky things at the poll when going right. 

Common for many horses to have the more difficult side on the right (which is a sign that they need to be able to stretch out the left side more.), but who’d think it would take this long to work through it.

Next, some new random spooking.

not leaning forward when spooking
More forward horse – more on the aids – more reactivity. At least in her case. So spooks happen some more.

Along with interesting naughtiness.

horse bucking from legs too far back

Spookiness by entire entrance of arena – didn’t happen the first month.  Ugly over-bending to the inside, sometimes the only way to get through there…

bending away from spookiy objects

Random piloting errors. 

This is coming on to the centerline…  Or more, “How not to come on to the centerline.”  I get sloppy in preparing, and then she’ll come off the outside rein.  This happens a lot when training on my own too much.

how not to steer onto center line


Lastly, here’s something I’d like to fix.  Tomorrow would be good…  Or at least half way fix, because you never really “solve” anything, just learn to ride it better.

Anyway.  Coming in through a corner, she feels fantastic, smooth, and light.

riding straight before a corner

Only to completely wobble away a second later!

horse over bending through corners

Here, friends, is where we are a bit stuck for now.  It’s simply too much for her.  Riding it more conservative, she’ll do just fine, but when she works a little more up, we tend to get all over the place because she’s not exactly through and I’m not doing the right thing for her there.

Very tricky and I’m not helping at all.  Few months ago, there wasn’t any problems with the corners, so I know I’m the one creating it.


Okido, that’s all for today.  Ending with Miss Lovely being lovely.

dressage horse stretching on circle
Let’s hear something about your troubles!! 🙂

Swedish Win In Florida

dressage without rollkur

A little patriotic pride this morning!

Good dressage is alive and well!  We know that from British world competitors Hester and Dujardin, who’ve shown there is a beautiful alternative to the Dutch and German highly criticized training methods…

Here’s another competitor who can be seen for lenghty periods in the warm up arena riding her horse sympathetically, soft, and wonderful.  Far from rollkur and harsh cringe worthy treatments.

Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén and Paridon Magi.

Swedish long time competitor Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén had a wonderful start in hot competition this week!

The 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) opened the winter season at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida, with Swedish competitor Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén and the 15-year-old Paridon Magi posting a new personal best of 75.87% in the FEI Grand Prix CDIW, presented by Adequan®.

Then just last night, they did it again. Winning the Freestyle with a whopping 81%!!!

Get inspired!

Dressage On A Dime A Horse For Elinor

Pictures From Winter Schooling

riding through corners

That perfect horse –


Maybe it was waiting for you in the paddock all along.

dressage horse trotting

the perfect horse

What do I know.

riding through corners

turning up centerline with horse


Keeping it short today.  Since you’re being drowned in pictures.

gray horse cantering

grey horse in canter downstride


Couldn’t pick just three or so.

Yawn.  I know.

silver horse

collecting the canter


Love the Gray Machine for trying so hard.  For both of us!

working from behind in trot

a softer more engaged dressage trot


Kind of feels like you need at least some sort of payoff for putting up with all this and scrolling down through so many pics.

So here goes – a stirrup tip:  Try putting only light downward pressure in the stirrups.  It will keep the lower leg more still.

Genius.  That would have come in really handy.  Some 7 years ago or so 🙂

Celebrating Every Small Improvement

sitting behind in canter on smaller circle

A few days ago I promised pictures of some less stiff strutting.

And then there was never a post about it!  Mostly because just like for every one else there isn’t much extra time… And it was hard to pick out just three shots where I thought she showed the most improvement.

stretching the neck in dressage trot

But also because I started picking apart the riding.  Looking at this.  And that.  And those.

Completely forgetting that yes, the gaits are still short, because that’s what she is, but they are a lot freer. A little softer.  And it shows!

She can use the inside hind a little better in canter.

using the inside hind more in canter

This is on a 13-14 m. canter circle – she feels stronger and shows that she can sit a lot more now!

sitting behind in canter on smaller circle


So.  Tomorrow morning – slew of pictures of Valiosa schooling.


In the meantime – some more half-pad experimentation this week.  Let you know what I decide on later!

Let’s Talk About Hating On Your Riding Position

dressage riding position

Because we all do.  I think.

Looking at a fresh batch with pics,  we’re just as shocked every time.  The same stuff is still going on in the saddle!  Takes a day to get over it, right?..

Last shots from a schooling ride, I was thrilled to see Valiosa looking a bit more “real.”  Actually using her body better.  Thrilled!  Yes!!!

More pictures of miss gray strutting less stiffly next time.  I loved it!

Today is a one-time opportunity to hate on your seat.  Or legs.  Elbows.  Hands.  Neck.  Or whichever you like, go ahead!  One day only.

I’ll start.

First off, hating on the freaky thing with the lower leg.  I get it too far back.  When you do this, the pelvis tips forward, tweaking the position.  Trying my very hardest to stop this.  (Good luck with that.)

Next, there’s a strange thing with the outside elbow.  It drifts out and away from the torso, especially when turning.  What’s going on there!!!??  This keeps happening, does nothing good for the horse.

And, especially when combined with taking the inside leg, shortening it, sort of creeping up with the heel there, horsey hates it.

heels down in dressage position

Elbow out, inside heel up – now the inside calf can’t be used in the right way as an aid, and the heel does all the work.  Again.  Horses hate this too.  Especially this gray one.

No one can pick apart every single thing, and then expect to erase those habits quickly.  Especially not when they’ve gone on for so long, and seem to get worse with time.

But, and this is a big one –  To ever get better, you have to create some awareness of just WHAT is going on, and try to work on it.  Or of course it’s just going to stay that way.  Forever.

So.  Deciding on just one thing, it was to lengthen the leg.  Make it a goal to have less heels creeping up.  That IS actually happening, already.  So, great job!

keeping heels down when riding

Ignoring the other super irritating things (Other than wishfully just hoping they’ll go away…) I’m going to focus on trying to get the lower leg, especially the heel, down and forward.  Most importantly, away from the areas that make her really mad.  Calf on.

So there we go.  Life goals.  Stop poking!

dressage riding position

Have a pesky thing you hate about saddle positioning?  Both me and many others would love to hear about it!  Have you set a goal for working on getting rid of any specific thing?…