Some Days – Better Than Others

Elinor Yee

Here she is again, lovely.

As promised on Wednesday – more schooling with Slick Silver.


dressage trot with young horse


canter with gray mare

A little softer, just a little easier, yay!

horse rounding the back in canter

Afterward, I butchered her mane.  Budget boy-cut style.  Mildly awkward.  February will be better again…

Elinor Yee


Waited over 3 years for her to come around…  Now that she’s here, better figure out how to make her want to stay.

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.


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 🙂

Wrapping Up The Year Of 2017

riding in sun light

What a great year!

With hundreds of pictures (Possibly overkill…  But who am I to say.  They just keep coming!) of this horse, we’ve got to have a little Looking-Back-At-The-Year post.

Today, a look at some favorites from each month!


Here’s from where we started in January – a clean slate, no clue what was ahead.

Elinor Yee dressage blog

Only made it two weeks into the new year, Friday the 13th, with a hand injury and some serious surgery.

Which luckily planted us at my trainers’s wonderful facility.

horse seeing it self in mirror
Valiosa got to meet her first pony, and moved into a massive paradise with rolling hills, grass, and oak trees.

safely introducing horse to herd



The entire winter continued as a long, never-ending, rainfall, after years of drought.  California turned in to a giant green Irish swamp, complete with people evacuating due to breaking dams.

rainy green pasture
I secretly loved all the rain…
walking horses out of gates

Lots of ground work, as I couldn’t ride, or get dressed in anything but snail pace.  Physical Therapy fixed things back up though.

keeping dressage fun for the horse

Valiosa had her own therapy -Pig Therapy.  She barely graduated from my class.

beautiful barns



New  big pasture.  New friends.  New haircut.

horse watching over sleeping horse

New ground exercises.

horse jumping over tunnel obstacle



Riding again!

strengthening bare hooves


Gray Azteca Mare Dressage



More varied work.

trotting over cavaletti

And those two longer trips down to the specialist clinic for hock treatments.  Valiosa though it was boooring…

bored horse

Finally got out to a show again.  Her 2nd time out at First Level, a schooling show, with a 63.1%

warming up for first level dressage

trot lengthening on the diagonal



Moving in to a different pasture again, even bigger.  Valiosa ate all. summer. long.

horse peeking out from behind tree


Many easier days with long-lining on the property paths.

long lining horse outdoors

Some better riding here and there.

azteca mare

Sucking at the leg yield.

too much angle in the leg yield

Worrying that she’d never settle down and become a real horse, working well and concentrated.

horse spooking on dog

riding in hot weather




Trying to survive the summer heat.

boy with horse and cookie


engaging the inside hind on trot circle

Rated show.  This time with interpretative snake moves…

bucking at shows

Still enough good moments for First Place in both classes!  First Level Test 2 64.7%, First Level Test 3 60.1%.

dressage blogs

We continued to practice at home.

goode rider iconic fit breeches

Wondering if she was forever doomed to ride twisty and difficult.

horse unsteady in contact

Knowing that she isn’t, as long as I am not twisty and difficult…

staying balanced in canter on diagonal



Playing and checking out the new power in the hind end.  Yes, it was there.

free jumping horse on lunge line

Heading out to a schooling show at First Level at a new venue, she rode the tightest in any test ever.  While still placing 2nd and 3rd, the scores dropped some to  63.9% and 58.5%…



Only to surprise with a few absolutely lovely minutes here and there when schooling at home the week after…

horse blogs



End-of-summer-almost-white coat.

horse by green pond

Just like every year, September was a month of never ending heat, with everything burnt out.  Setting up for the worst fires in history in fall and winter, both in North and South California this time.

Thousands of people evacuated, not from flooding danger, but from fire danger this time.

leading horse to barn

Continuing to suck at the leg yield.

crossing over with the hind leg in leg yield

While surprising with the canter turning out to be her best gait.

collecting the canter with young horse

Meeting new friends again, in new pasture.

horses meeting for the first time

Riding through fire-smoky days.

a better trot on an average horse

climbing for hind end strength



Reluctantly leaving the wonderful breeding barn to be able to stop the long barn commute.

trail riding with dogs


Hanging out for a month with my wonderful friend again, just to make sure to have some time together.

fall decorations at barn


Little Ellie’s cookies happened.  Promise, in my next life I’ll have time to bake, market, and sell these.

how to make your horse eat anything

Valiosa went to her first 2-Day show!

She took first place in First Level Test 2 with 65.3%.  3rd in First Level Test 3 with  62.5%

Elinor Yee

The 2nd day, which was rated, she seemed tired from the overnight.  63.1% at First Level Test 2 and 62.3% at First, Test 3.  Still a solid performance on her part!

Elinor Yee dressage



This month saw a move to a fantastic barn, with a shorter commute, and the biggest change ever – to being “just a boarder”.  No additional horse related backgroud work…  I still haven’t gotten used to it 🙂


barn with thanksgiving decorations


Valiosa somehow worked her way to a live-in boyfriend arrangement.  Yes, she enjoys it.

free trot with no rider and ideal neck



Beautiful winter days.

horse drying at washrack with fal trees

With hopes for So much more fun in 2018!

riding in sun light

Grateful To Celebrate 3 Years With The Gray Friend

becoming a better rider

3 years with this ever trusting sweet mare.


She’s become a great friend and an absolute ease to handle.  So cool to see her grow stronger and more filled out over the years!  Here’s the annual Before & After Post!

If you’ve followed along for some time, you’ve seen the yearly update at Thanksgiving, a long slew of pictures each time.  Today, keeping it short and sweet.

Want to see some of the fun stuff we’ve done along the way?  Transforming from dark-silvery, gangly half-ugly-young horse, to “half way there” mature mare – here’s the link to the other two anniversary posts:


Starting out, possibly the most unflattering picture ever.  Brought in from her pasture herd, in a temporary stall at her breeders.

slim young horse before training
Soaked, scared, and she clearly thought the room needed an upgrade. No ocean view?! The brochure had been so nice…

She was a few scant months above three.  Not halter broke…  A drenched rat with the spine tenting.  Sloping hind.  Cartoon hocks.  Impossible shoulder and neck.

Logic should have kicked in, to walk away.  Deciding to have an adventure instead, I took her home.  (Smacks hand on forehead…)


A little more than a year later –

With Intro Level schooling shows under her belt.  Here 4 1/2 years old, stepping up to Training Level.

Elinor Yee


At 5, first time out at First Level, in the warmup 2016.

Elinor Yee


This year, Late summer, 2017.  Go Gray Mare!

becoming a better rider

Is it recommended to do this on your own?  Absolutely not.  Doesn’t mean you can’t!

Physically, she’s done a 180, looking strong and capable.  For everything we’ve done wrong, today is a little pat on the back for everything that’s gone right!

Having fun with her along the way?  Yes!