Riding Hands Forward

riding dressage with good rein contact

Thought I’d show something that finally clicked in training on my own!


Simple concept:  Hands Forward – Horse To Bit, Not Bit To Horse.

Know how your trainer will tell you to bring the horse forward to the bit, not the horse back toward the hand?  With hands and seat striving forward?  (If it’s a good trainer.)

How exhausting it must be to instruct and have to say that over and over in lessons, never really knowing if the message went through…  (Alexis I’ve been trying!)

On my own this can go to the wayside (maybe for you too.) but the basic idea is there.  Finally catching it in pictures!  This one goes out to any poor soul who’s ever wondered if their student will get it!

Valiosa making her trademark move, scrunching up and back, a pushback, in every way.  Yes, ugly.  No, don’t budge or fiddle the fingers.

pushing back and coming above the bit

Hands stay in their “little area”, seat is in but following, not pushing down.  (Bonus points if looking up.  No bonus for me, ever.)

riding with the hands in correct position

And then she comes to the hand!  Finally!

bringing the horse to the bit

OK so then there could be some more calf and more give in the hand and she would have stayed looser.

giving with the hand after half halting

But here she is two strides later!  Love!  It works!

riding dressage with good rein contact

Spring Schooling Update

straight in trot

Taking full advantage of some more forward!

She’s been fun to ride! Still twisty-and-resisty, but we work together in a whole different way now.

softer trot

It sank in one day that no one’s really going to show up and install any sort of shoulder in button. Or haunches in. Or any other button…

And no one’s going to really say if /when we’re ready for it either…

better hind leg in trot

So, on my own I’ve played with Valiosa a few times with it and she’s responding well. Experimenting – helps if you know how to train the horse to do it.

Well, details. Then back to hind-pushing-straight focus. (It’s hard!)

No pictures of that, but if she wants to go along, maybe another time.

straight in trot
Awesome mare!

Figured out a mistake – trying to introduce quarter turns in canter. She can do them, good actually, but our focus should be on going forward in canter.

crab canter

Love it when she can stay under the seat like this, true on the outside rein, but to be more “real” the canter has to be more forward. With the front hooves coming off the ground a little more 🙂

stronger hind end in canter

Valiosa says – Good luck with that, that’s exhausting, I canter how I canter

We’ll see how that goes this summer!

dressage with gray mare

more forward canter

Few days ago – a lesson for the first time in a month.

That’s all the excitement this time. So many pictures…
Still awake?

dressage with half andalusian mare

You’re Not The Only One With a Tighter Horse In the Outdoor Arena

horse more forward in canter outdoors

We’ve been schooling outside a bit – she’s much more upright and distracted out there.

Good stuff!

Mostly, I walk her on the property for conditioning on varying footing. Super helpful for her walk, so much more ground winning than a year ago. But when we’re allowed to go in one of the outdoor arenas it’s worth it with some schooling there!

tense horse in outdoor ring

horse more forward in canter outdoors

Lately she’s been forward in canter, which is not usually her thing, only to become really strong if I get fooled into too much on the inside rein. Like this ⇓ 🙂 Then she just takes off with us both.

downstride in canter

Or she’ll mix it up with a dead-stop fake-spook to keep things interesting. Mostly, I wait for her to take a breath, and then we go again as if nothing happened.

riding through spooking
My horse, a breathing tripod. Ever seen one who can place their hinds this tight? One touch and we’d tip over…

Riding Silverfish takes a lot of patience. All worth it!

dressage outdoors

As soon as it gets baking hot even before 10 am, I know we won’t be out there too much. Taking advantage when we can – show you more of that next week!

Things – Looking Up!

spring horse riding

Schooling rides have been interesting lately.

If you don’t normally get a race car mare, it’s really fun to suddenly have one.  Maybe a bit confusing how to actually ride 🙂  but I’ll take it!

To make sure Valiosa continued the right direction with healing up from the abscess – lunging before riding.  Checking her gaits, overall temperament etc.  She’s been really willing to work.  Honestly never seen this horse apply herself like this on the lunge.

riding in park like setting

Part of the reason I ended lunging long time ago – she’d work her body better under saddle, developing  the right muscles there, not on the lunge.

Now, she comes out with a vroom, settles in to light side reins, and thinks canter is really fun in the covered round pen.  OK then.

Whatever has changed, it’s been great to see!  Spring grass.  Less grain.  Different grain.  More B-Vitamins.  Less work.  Spring weather.  Being in heat every day.  Last month’s saddle adjustment.  Looser cavesson and flash.  Stronger hind.  Whatever it is, it’s working!

spring horse riding

Hoping this happy horse will continue showing up most days!

Getting pictures to show you in a few days!

Quick Way To Forget All About A Show

Sudden lameness!  Works for everyone…

Valiosa came out really lame after a rest day, two days after the show.

Enough for frantic vet calls when it got worse, not better, after resting some more.  Her first real bout with anything like this.  Sure thing, an abscess.  Hoof testers found a very tender, soft area on the heel bulb.

Things got busy with twice daily soakings…

soaking front hoof abcess
This explains some of the over-the-top show temperament the weekend before. Poor girl!

To match, I cut my own finger, deep, at work last weekend.  Things are much more interesting when you’re applying duct tape over a diaper on a dragon horse if you have to do it with a wrapped finger sticking straight out in the air 🙂

This morning, she lunged really sound!  With sound effects – because piggy squeals every canter transition are a must when you’re in heat and haven’t done anything for a week and a half.  Right?

Trying a short, easy ride with lots of walking tomorrow, before she rests another three days while I work.

Something like this would be nice.  Good luck with that…  Fingers crossed she’ll behave.

Have a feeling she may be a little pill to ride next week after all this.  I’ll take it!

riding in snake grass
Nope, no plans to brave the snake grass until someone can breathe a little more normal.

Valiosa, Being Awesome

trotting with tail relaxed

Hi friends,

Looks like these blog posts aren’t going to write themselves…  This morning’s lesson went well.  Latest fun evasion is running through – and out the outside shoulder in canter.  Silly rider, maybe thinking I could just sit there?

We had more good moments than usual – thrilled with Gray Mare!


Here’s the latest photo bomb.

softer hind end steps

Favorite shot below!

Reaching under with inside hind, soft open neck, relaxed mouth, good eye, no inside rein (small miracle!), relaxed tail, back is up.

trotting with tail relaxed

Who knew she could ever get to that, so happy!

azteca mare trotting

trotting without tilting nose to the side

Picture overload, I know. Just didn’t have the heart to erase them all.
posting trot longer stirrups

tracking under in trot

Today is Favorite Tuesday, track day, if you’re lucky enough to have tendons that still let you fling around at the track at slower-and-slower paces each year.  I still do, some weeks, so will be there – after inhaling a second cup of coffee.  Wonder what’ll get injured this time 🙂