Current Riding Struggles. Plenty To Go Around

riding happy in dressage

Hey!  We’ve got some ongoing issues.

Maybe you do too?

Today, posting some of the stuff we’re struggling with right now.

Because dressage is a strange, luscious, struggle for perfection, which most of us will never fully master.  Viewed the right way, it’s demanding, fun, and forever challenging.  An enigma.  Viewed the wrong way – it’s stuffy, incomprehensible, and impossible.

Pick your way!

First off, there’s the leg yield off the long side to X.  (Here from K.)  To pull it off, there has to be just about two steps of counter flex right after the corner.

setting up for leg yield off the long side

Great start.  But then there’s the dreaded “petering out”, as we go toward X…

leg yield to centerline

Another struggle is the smooth transition from leg yield right to X – to leg yield left back to the long side.  She gets over ambitious, a bit rambling, and then, after laboring too much, you guessed it – irritated…

too much angle in the leg yield

Focus issues – retaining composure and concentration when herding-dogs start, um, herding.  I’m not serious enough for it.  Extra credit for just having fun though.  You are having fun, right?

riding dressage with border collie in the arena
Upper body position  –  still that dreaded little collapsing of the inner ribcage on the circle in canter. We all have our riding position struggles. I’ve got some big ones, and this tinier vice is not going to go away until I actually focus on it. Got some other, larger, stuff to obsess over…
rider collapsing inside ribs on circle

The serious Let’s-Get-Ugly-Right-At-C-By-The-Judges-Box-Mare issue.  Full disclosure:  this is ongoing, at any time in the arena, but mostly on the short side , where you really want to have a smooth, “Hey this is easy, look at how this just flows effortlessly!” sort of look.

She’ll push back, shorten, resist the aids, and life in general.  I try to ignore, push the hands forward, creating space and not restricting her, but we keep riding in a “hiccup” mode like this.

horse pushing back

And then it’s over…

pushing the hands forward in trot

I’m hoping the dental earlier this week will help just a bit with this.  She had her teeth done  not even 6 months ago but the vet already pointed out a few sharp edges.

We’re good to go now, and hopefully comfortable for another 9 months.  To be honest, I don’t think it will make much of a difference in her contact, but there’s always hope.  Things can always evolve and get better.

On to the next struggle – sticking point for many at the lower levels:  The perfect stretchy trot.

on the forehand in stretchy trot
Death by stretchy circle.

Nothing else to say.  Other than this movement can be lovely, and sometimes she can get it just right! ⇓

stretching down and out in trot

Next up; random twisting and wringing.  At any time!  Yeah.  Exhaustive and humbling, this is still happening.  No comment.

horse twisting the neck

When she’s good, she’s just so much fun!..

riding happy in dressage

Feel free to vent about your biggest current riding issue!


half andalusian dressage mare

No matter where you are, summer has started.  Right!??

Awesome.  Fun.  Exhausting! 🙂

We’re having a blast!

Except breaking in new boots.  It’s been worse than I ever imagined…

half andalusian dressage mare

The old, comfy boots.

Happening this weekend:  The AA Dressage Clinic, North, Sac Horse Expo, and some other fun.

Check back in on Saturday afternoon for an update on some current training issues.  Well.  They’re ongoing…  And so many, it was hard to pick just a couple…  It will be a little party of uglyish pics!  But definitely not a whiny-party!


azteca mare


With so many activities, who’s got time to write…

Yes, there’s a life beyond horses, although I don’t write about it at all here.  Summing it up with the latest:  70 lovely and painful long distance miles on my shoes, and a beautiful 3 day scout camping trip to top it off.

Small wonder I’m still standing up.  Which I’m not – only non-ergonomically slouched on the couch.  Crunchy chocolate granola stuffed face.  Says on the bag you have to eat it until your mouth is scraped raw inside.  Or something like that.

riding with dogs in the arena

Valiosa finally stopped coughing and we rode Friday morning.  Pics sprinkled throughout from the happy ride in this post.  Today she was great too.  Phew!

turning on to centerline

Answers to earlier questions!

  • “Would you tell us how you became interested in blogging? Also, when did you start blogging?”

I rode other people’s horses for years.  Wonderful, but who doesn’t want their very own?  Bringing home La Prima, an American Warmblood mare was the trigger to start writing.  Horse ownership has been a dream ever since the first pony ride, decades later it was definitely exciting enough to create a little site around it.

First post went up in January 2014…  Half the posts from the first year are gone, but going forward everything is sticking around.

Never a huge blog reader myself, it has been really fulfilling, fairly easy, and I never imagined readers would reach out and be as encouraging as they have.  You are amazing!

azteca mare

  • ” What is the next step for you and Valiosa?”

Keeping expectations low, and ambitions modest, with most of everything, makes for almost no disappointment at all, and mostly small awe for how well and wonderful things are turning out 🙂

That said, now that I have just a bit more help with Valiosa’s training (We lesson 3-4 times/month instead of only once or possibly twice.  Makes a real difference!), I’m setting a long-term goal to make it through Third Level with her.  (AAAAH!) Huge, since I don’t really know how to teach it all to her…

Truly big things may not be in the stars for us – don’t have the resources for it, but we’re going to rock it in this little corner for all it’s worth!   Motivating any other adult amateur who considers themselves just “mediocre” along the way to shoot for something better!

I want to get there methodically, never just “winging” it, and want to always put her first – if it’s too much of a physical reach for her she’s not going to have to do it.  To be honest, the coolest thing would simply be to see her develop that little, tight, starting trot to something where she feels lush, supple, and powerful – knowing I brought her along to that on my own.

I ride for a wonderful trainer, planning to stay just as excited about riding as always, and to jump on any opportunity whenever it comes along!

gray half andalusian mare

  • What is V’s story? What is or was it about her that made you say I have to have this one?

Shamefully hanging head.  Not a conventional horse-shopping route.  (I just didn’t want to wait any more.  My gelding needed to retire to lighter work.)  There really wasn’t any big  -“This One!”  I hadn’t come across any other young horse that was A. Close enough, and B. Affordable.  With her, it was a pure gamble and leap of faith.

I wanted a young horse, without major conformation issues, with little to no strange-handling-history at all, at least 15.2 (which she wasn’t yet when I got her.) and a temperament where I could sort-of-safely back and train her on my own, and do fun things together with.

She’d been raised out, in a larger herd (major plus for long-term soundness.), and once they shuttled them all together, singled her out and got a halter on her, she stood still while I touched her neck.  (Everyone knows that’s all that’s required of a successful dressage horse.  Right.)

She seemed trusting from the start.  Looked very sound in a round pen.  She was not quite 3 1/2.  With her full siblings, 1 year older and 1 year younger, looking really good too, I took her home a couple of weeks later at Thanksgiving.  Christmas day she was ready for trail walks under saddle, sort of.

Maybe she just picked me?  (Ah, look at that fool, I’m going to leach off of her!)  Glad she did!

best horse blogs 2017My horse.

It’s absolutely wonderful.  Still.  Just to have one!

top dressage blogs

Still Not Well

long lining horse outdoors

A bit longer break than hoped for.

Who ever wishes for a long break, or a break at all, anyway ?

Tomorrow, day 14 of no riding, not counting that 1 st day with a half ride when she first started coughing.

horse peeking out from behind tree


Everything else with her is just right; perky, no nasal discharge at all now, and of course still no fever, or she would have had a complete workup by now.  (Some serious weight gain though…)  She’s had a few light workouts from the ground and she doesn’t cough at all at the walk or trot.

I think we’re at the end of it.  Maybe there’s a fox tail embedded and inflamed somewhere…  She just doesn’t seem sick at all.  Dental is scheduled mid week next week, so the vet can take a good look in there then, and a blood panel if things stay the same.

horse next to shady trees


A few fun days, just because it’s nice to hang out together,  with long lining, both indoors and out.

long lining horse outdoors

Of course she’s been a superstar.  Fumbling back there with equipment is just fine with her.

Answers to questions coming up next time! 🙂

1K Followers, A Special Day!!

working horse alone on large grass field

Hard to believe we’ve come this far!

The blog’s got over 1000 followers.  With e-mail and Facebook followers on top of that.  How amazing and fun!

Dressage On A Dime A Horse For Elinor

Thrilled to have you along while I goof off with my horse!  Small horse blogs usually don’t get much attention – this is very encouraging and heartwarming!

Most amazingly, some of you have stayed on from the beginning, which makes it really special.  Thank you for checking in!

Today, opening up for a Questions & Answers Opportunity!

Surely at least two of you must have a question at this point!??

This is your chance – ask away below, then we’ll have a separate post to follow-up with answers!

Celebrating with some shots from over 3 years of writing and loving on the horses.

Happy Memorial Day!

Missed Training Days

small pond at barn

Hard to put a positive spin on them, right?

But it’s the only way to go.  Horses, and their owners, will continue to get sick or injured way too often.  A wonder we get anywhere at all,  and that we get as far as we do, between it all…

It’s a beautiful time of the year  (I say that all the time, except during REAL summer, which starts something like, tomorrow.), some extra rest is just fine, and all will turn out OK!  Just not sure how many days – weeks – we’ll miss this time.

Quick don’t-worry-break, view of the small pond on an overcast morning.

small pond at barn

Monday morning, after two days rest, Valiosa came out with a sudden serious cough under saddle.  Light canter, trotting, walking, didn’t matter.  No temperature, or other signs.

Tuesday, the same, during light lunging to see how she was doing, with some nasal discharge.  No swollen glands, still perky enough.

halter too far down on the nose
Hating on owner for making her wear the halter all droopy

Yep, she’s had her fall and winter shots.

Nope, no allergies before.

No change in hay (not even fed right now as the 24 hr grass is so rich.  Who would have ever thought that in California!), and no dust exposure.

No fever at all for three days in a row.  House vet didn’t find any swollen glands.  Standing by to see how this will pan out, absolutely no training for her for a while…

So – Healthy As A Horse.  Who came up with that?

Closing with this sign from construction site up our hill.

awkward last names

Would you buy a property from Mr. Lie big?

Arena Back Drops

cantering with seatbones out of the saddle

Staying at the “new” farm means not being able to see good friends at the “old.”

So many good days together out there, and I’ll miss Nancy, my friend and partner in crime, a lot.  Have a feeling we still have some adventures together, just need to come up with a plan 🙂

Today, honoring the wonderful, enigmatic backdrop of the covered arena at Twisted Oak.  It is absolutely magical – the colors and vegetation forever changing with the seasons.  A treat and an honor to ride there.

I know the beauty can’t come through in the pictures enough (it wasn’t the focus at all when they were taken.) but it can look like a piece of art sometimes when you’re there.  The twisty trees, the droopy tiny branches, the shadows, the moss, and the different leaves throughout the year…

So here goes, pictures from several different months!  Ignore the riding, just look at how the colors change throughout the year!

September heat.

"Elinor Yee"


Late fall.

"Dressage On A Dime"



young horse trot

loose rein walk



Andalusian cross mare


Late winter.

starting to leg yield at quarter line


Cantering on loose rein


Spring time March.

posting trot

easter egg color breeches

"Elinor Yee"

"Elinor Yee"



warm up canter before jumping

horse cantering with high neck



canter with grey mare


The never-ending summer.   August.  So hot you can taste it.

riding a horse in a mist of dust

cantering with seatbones out of the saddle


Early fall in September.

inspiration for riding dressage when things are not going well


December again.

leg yield from centerline

creating a longer neck