Other Hard Things We’re Working On

We’re not in bootcamp, but Valiosa may be starting to think so.

Each ride, she has to go at least half-way correctly, at least half of the time.  Annoying to her, and hard work, since she usually gets to tourist-around and work more on own terms 🙂 here and there.

sitting straight while riding on the circleEmpress Plum Pudding would rather do some type of Western Jog than this.

One change in her is a better, softer, trot and once she turns on the motor behind a lot of the “tweakiness” finally goes away up front.  Well, yeah, go figure, we all know that’s how it works, but it would take me soooo long to figure out in each ride how to “arrive” there with this horse…  And then start over from scratch again the next ride.

New task is to half halt more.  Half halt quicker.  Half halt and not holding.  OK, how about just half halting!!?  And pushing the hands forward to soften, while keeping her on the outside rein.

allowing the horse to canter freely forward
Nice little hind leg pumpin’!

Straight stretchy trot can happen, small miracle.

horse stretching in trot

Overall (ignoring another huge problem: keeping the hand closed.  Maybe next year.) aids have to be quicker.  Quicker half halts, quicker to give, quicker leg, and quicker transitions.  Little syrupy preparations take too long, we amble around too much.

Riding with the leg off will go a long way.  Would be great to reprogram to never touch with the leg unless it’s an actual aid – impossible now but refusing to give up!

overbending the horse neck to the inside

Also super difficult:  Straight with just the right flexion.  I either get too straight or overbent, especially to the left.  But she is softer, so I’ll take it!

Only 4 rides left of “more focused training.”  It’s been luxurious, to have help at every ride.  Spoiled.

dressage with andalusian cross horse

Show you more next week!

Here’s Where She Is In The Training Now

Definitely looser, a little more over the back.

Monday morning is starting off with a bad calf strain for me, so no riding this morning.  On again tomorrow.

white horse in dressage

As promised, today is a quick peek at where Valiosa is in her training.  We still do strange tweaky things but overall, she’s made a huge change in the past two weeks!

horse falling out on volte
Salt Box Mare – falling out of her box.

Once she comes off the inside leg aid instead of pushing against it, we come together more like one package.  Awesome when it happens!

canter with small white horse

dressage with gray horse

Last week I had her teeth floated again, and she had an overall vet check.  It’s helpful to have another eye check her gaits – easy to become “home-blind” right?!  She passed various flexing and prodding – wonderful!

pushing the hand forward in canter

Had her on Pentosan for some time, just to help out, but never noticed a hugely significant difference.  Has that happened to you?  Trying another series soon, to help protect as much as can – hoping for many years with this mare – at 6 ml instead of 5.

She’s already so much softer just from working better!

riding with looser rein in canter

Have a great start on your week!

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!



We Survived

Left you hanging from the last announcement.


Life is in the way.  Social media stories go on the back-burner then.  I have two pantry-raiding boy scouts at home who forever seems to need a ride somewhere, be fed, or picked up from camps hours away.  And then there’s something about a job.

horse waiting for better days

But there’s going to be an update.  Not a pretty one.  (Although the pictures look sweet if we can ever get them off the camera.)  We did incredibly bad all show weekend.

Wow.  If you ever wonder if you should go to a show and risk being the worst ever, fear no more – we’ve got that covered already.

Seriously, it was fun.  And in the end, very pleased with Miss Sugar Crumb.

Stories on this site speak through pictures, we’ll just wait for them.  And here’s the shocker – showing again tomorrow!  Going in knowing there won’t be some magical improvement.  Ignoring everyone else, Cream Puff and I are just going in for miles.

Humbling.  Possibly embarrassing.  Definitely brave.  Guess what builds more character – staying home, or sucking in the showring? 🙂

being brave at dressage shows

If I can do this, so can you.

No Regrets

Half the battle is just showing up.


Of course riders won’t do well if they don’t even show up.  Also, they can’t do too terribly bad, either.

Just days before registry-closing for the next show, it really didn’t feel right signing up for it.  At all.

A simple schooling ride in the outdoor went haywire.  No reason;  no excuses, no distractions.  Easy transitions from free walk-through walk-trot were ridiculously complicated.  Canter on diagonal, transitioning down to trot for a smooth corner was tense and hurried.  Not pretty.

straight leg yield
Little relaxed leg yield in the dusty outdoor like this? Forget it.

Who wouldn’t wonder:  All this training and we’ve got THIS?  Basic understanding of the aids wasn’t even there.  Extremely humbling.

Really, who’d feel up for spending a small fortune on a long 3-day show, with all the time and energy wrapped that goes along with it then?  I started to think that it’d be better to just continue schooling on our own, without showing.

Forget the stress.  Forget placing ridiculous demands on us as a team, since we don’t have it together right now.

And then the other reminder; – “It takes a village.”  And you don’t have a village.  It’s you, crappy aids, and a crooked horse with a big heart trying to figure out where and how she’s really supposed to be.  Showing 6 tests, three days in a row on your own, whose idea of fun is that?

leg yield at first level

Only way to handle it – hurry up and enter online really quick, late at night, before there’s time to change your mind.  Show coming up Friday.  No regrets.