Shoulder In

horses getting cast when rolling

If we never practice it, she’ll never get this one down.

If we don’t practice it correctly, it won’t happen either.

If I just avoid it, see above.

So, I’ve just had to get on with it. 

Setting up, on the aids, making sure she’s forward.  Check.

setting up for shoulder in

For this to ever happen, the outside seatbone, hip, shoulders, everything, has to swivel in.  Not straight!  (Or it will be sort of a leg yield version down the long side.)  This is really difficult, when you think you’re doing it, but find out you’re still straight!

leg yield instead of shoulder inThe struggle is real friends.

Monday morning, Valiosa was as sound as ever.  The small tender spot from Friday was history.

I’m leery of letting her roll on the narrower grass spot now though.  Just in case she’d want to cozy up next to the concrete planter again…

horse rolling in pastureAfter a two-day non-stop torrential rain storm she was happy to drop in the first, half-dry, place.

horse rolling in pasture with blanket onSpeed rolling blur.  Yes, it’s a thing.

horses getting cast when rolling

Watching Video Of Yourself Riding

light contact with dressage horse

It’s traumatizing.

At least for me.

stretching out in trot

Usually, I have to take a deep breath afterward.  Just to sort of, once again, come to terms with the fact that all that stuff is STILL going on!

And the horse is not getting better.  All because of you.  Or wait, maybe she is getting better…  Watching the little clips again.  Not sure.

difficult dressage

Then I watch it again, the day after, when more of the shock is gone.  And sort of wish I’d be interested in some other horse discipline.  One that could maybe have some, less, discipline to it.

That’s not going to happen.

I hate dressage

We’re going to be stuck here for some time – probably the rest of winter, while I figure out how to allow my horse to move more freely, rhythmic, and relaxed.  First two steps will be to stop doing strange things with the lower leg, and ignore the urge to buy into what she’s doing with her neck.

There’s so much going on (other than rushing forward, forget that – mare won’t rush.  Ever.).  Everything is very “busy” about the riding and there’s no natural flow to it.

Glimpses of her in the clips show where she could be – they last a short time, the rest look nothing like this.

Only New Year’s Promise:  To keep working on being a better rider for Gray Mare.

horse behind the leg

What about you?  Are you going to stand around and talk about doing it?  Or sit.  Or write.  Or actually do it?…

light contact with dressage horse

Training Update

horse bending through corner
No huge improvements.

But there’s a tiny better feel each week.

Her very first rated show this weekend!  The other shows have all been schooling shows, at the same venue.  Now I hope she’ll be good in another brand new place…

We’ll show a basic, Training Level 3.  I’m really hoping for a harmonious test!

Still working toward a lowered, lengthened connection.  Not upright, tight, like so.

horse tight in the neck

It needs to come easier.  Happen earlier in the ride.  Easy to say.  NOT easy to do.

She feels absolutely fabulous when she softens and comes through more, mostly just in the posting trot at the end of the warmup.

posting trot

warming up with grey horse

It lasts for a split second.  Here and there.  Then we’re back to the – really not all that great – again.

She mostly just looks like this all the time.  At best.

horse tight and not forward

No wait!  Sometimes we’re together for 2 seconds!

horse bending through corner


Training On Your Own

staying motivated with your horse

Not easy, is it?

Staying motivated, focused, and sure that the green riding project is going in the right direction is not at all just about showing up and “doing the best you can.”

I have found I have to do even better than that.  Challenge myself to become a better rider, little by little, to make her – a better horse.

just another ride

A Dressage On A Dime tip, a completely free one, is to have a blog!

Clicked on the stats recently and saw that A Horse For Elinor has gone long past 35,000 hits.  All thanks to you!!

training alone

Writing about the progress, or eh, sometimes lack of it, is truly helpful.  It also helps to look back at where we were a month ago, or a year ago.

Can’t thank you enough for checking in on us!  The support, no matter how small – just the fact you poked in, is truly motivating.

Who would have thought there’d be so much interest in just another backyard rider poking around?

My horse and the dogs

That’s all from me today.


Easter 2016

"Elinor Yee"

posting trot

Here’s to a quiet Easter Weekend for all!

Here’s to a long spring.  Please be a long spring!  No one is ready for summer just yet…

Here’s to hoping your family is healthy, your horses sound, and your tack clean.  (Right.)


Valiosa, at 4 1/2 years, slowly increasing muscle.

Valiosa Easter 2016

The canter has been a challenge for her.  For us.  I’ll have to write a separate post on it later.  If you’re riding a horse with a less than naturally gifted canter,  you’ll feel right at home.

Here, I’m so absolutely pleased with her!  She’s stepping under, staying forward, not scrambling, and no one is clamping down.  (That’d be me.)  Wonderful little mare!

Easter Canter

The back pasture, for perhaps two more weeks, so beautiful it hurts.

Easter Trot

Photo bomb provided by my son.  Thank you for blowing a morning of spring break for me!

Top 4 Reasons To Work For A Professional Trainer

why you should be a working student

These top 4 might not be what you expected.

Sure, most will agree that taking on a working student arrangement will develop better riding skills, and more exposure to horse handling of all kinds – it just comes with the territory.

But surprisingly I’ve found it’s not what I got the most out of the experiences from various training barns.

side of head close

Spending some time working with a trainer, if only for a little while, is worth it, even if it means you’ll have to put some other goals on the shelf for a while.

No matter where we are in our riding, we are (hopefully) always wishing we could do it better.

Heading out for months, or a year, to a top-notch training barn somewhere in the world and learning the ropes might not be possible for everyone, or anyone above age 25.  Hey, we’ve all got this other thing called Real Life to take care of too on top of our riding plans.

But even by arranging a short term situation to work closely with professionals in your chosen discipline, in my case dressage, a lot can be learned and almost nothing lost.

Except a bit of your time, effort, sweat, and ego.  And oh, yeah, also the baggage of always dreaming of riding nice expensive horses again…  Details.


My top 4 reasons.  Yours may be different!

1     Time management

Dawdling around with one horse might be OK, but to get through the day with several of them needing to be trained, one has to quickly learn how to work efficiently.  I started at Sandy’s, and she’d have 13 horses to work with on any given day, a low number at the time.

I’m a notorious time waster with grooming before a ride.  It took a few months to get out of the habit, you’ll probably pick up on it faster than that.  Let’s hope you pick it up faster than that…

Watching how to cut down time in everything, from grooming, to cooling off, tacking off, bathing, and turning out is extremely helpful.

2      Horse Care and Training Management

With every new training barn, well in any barn really, a whole new slew of rules and care practices await.  The trick is to learn to adapt, stay open-minded, and to keep all the good stuff you’d like to carry on to your own barn.

With every new experience, comes the opportunity to learn something new, and to also ask some important questions to your self.

  • What do you agree with?
  • What would you (and will you) do differently?
  • Why and how are things done in this particular way?

Also, experiencing a different barn and its inhabitants is a great way to learn not to listen to all “The Experts.”  Oh you know they are there!

After coming back to riding as an adult after years of being away from horses, I was shocked at the amount of self-righteous people demanding full and complete acceptance of their “expertise” whether that came from Craigslist, their cousins backyard horses, or some outdated horse management skills they picked up 20 years ago which now reign as the sole correct way.  Called  “The Experts”, they’re alive and kicking in every barn, and best ignored.

The more I’ve been out there; observing, listening, getting advice from real professionals, and research on my own when in doubt, the easier it has been to stay the right course.

Still not very adept at dealing with “The Experts.”  (Really, how are you supposed to respond to some of it?)  But at least better at staying quiet.

Horse Hug

    Goal Setting (!)

It can be a defining time, not just for setting show goals, if you have the opportunity to plan for that, not all of us do.  But as a measurement of the attitude and relationship toward your own horsemanship.

This is an expensive, physically wearing, and time-consuming sport, with opportunities not equally open to everyone.  Spending some time seeing how it’s done other than as just a hobby is eye-opening.

  • What do you want to get out of working with your horse?
  • What will a good day at the barn mean for you?
  • What will keep you going when you’re back on your own? (Training alone with not much advice or encouragement.)
  • Which attitude do you wish to keep toward your horse?

Miss Reyna

4     Most important reason:  Seeing the training process and the struggles even professionals have to deal with.

Especially how they come up with a solution.  Not that it’s enjoyable to see, but that it does happen.  It creates confidence when sort of stuck at home with something similar.  They go through incredible hardship and have to be creative and open-minded in the approaches to each horse.

It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve learned how to deal with all the problems my self, but just seeing how incredibly difficult stuff can be sometimes is in itself very motivating.

Strange training issues with horses, injuries, training setbacks, illnesses, accidents, crazy weather, long periods of periods of no real progress with some horses.    It helps to see this, and remember that when training on my own.

Also, knowing that it’s much easier to keep the training going, and in the right direction, when there’s help around.  I keep that in the back of my mind as I’m training on my own a lot.  Things will take longer, and the stumbling blocks will be bigger, and we most definitely won’t get as far!

Just knowing that in advance is encouraging somehow!

Hoping to be back in a training barn some time again to learn some more!

I’ve been involved with Alexis at her barn – here’s her website if you’d like to take a peek:

Young Horse Training – Not For Amateurs

Valiosa with my son

What could go wrong?…

Can anything go right?

Training a green horse, all the way from the very first step, is ill-advised for an adult amateur.  In so many ways.  (Let’s just ignore the other problems with people hanging up their “Trainer” sign after just a few years of riding.)

I am an adult amateur.  There is nothing Pro in my methods with taking Valiosa from pasture preener to arena artist.

It is a risk.  Hoping to learn more than ever before in doing this.  To remain mindful of when things start looking wrong.

La Prima, just last spring.  I taught her to be a good trail horse, and nice manners on the ground.  But never DID succeed with dressage work.
Last spring – La Prima. She learned nice manners on the ground, and to be a great trail horse. But I never succeeded with her dressage work.

Photo Above By Grey Horse Photography

Main fear – not severe injury, although that is very likely, too.  But worried of creating a horse that is so full of problems it cannot continue its career as a well-ridden dressage horse.  This, alone, is on of my top reasons for why an amateur should not be breaking and training a young green prospect.  All personal physical injury aside.

Yet, I’m doing it.  Always been disobedient.  Some of us have had a lot of success that way.

She’s ready to stop bopping around slowly on trails and do more focused work under saddle in the arena.

Traylor Ranch

When Things Go Wrong
– by Dr. Thomas Ritter

“These warning signs can be very subtle, like a crooked transition from the halt to the walk, a hesitant, delayed response to the driving aids, drifting away from the wall on one rein, lack of concentration on the rider, inventing things to spook at, etc.

Many riders don’t recognize the warning signs. They are caught by surprise when the horse shows some blatant disobedience, 6 months or a year after the first warning signs appeared.

By that time the situation is already out of control. The horse has become so frustrated that he is no longer interested in a productive discourse with his rider. He has given up and assumes that all riders give incomprehensible, contradictory aids. He therefore responds even to correct riding with anger and resentment.

The horse’s trust and respect are now so thoroughly destroyed, the dangerous behavior is so deeply ingrained, that it is difficult and time consuming, in some cases dangerous, even for a very competent rider to undo. The original rider who caused the behavior is by now far out of his league and will in many cases be unable to recover without sending the horse away to a professional for several months.

However, even if somebody else corrects the horse, the bad behavior will reappear immediately as soon as the original rider gets back on – unless this rider changes his riding completely.”

I have Marty from MC Dressage helping with some of the steps along the way.  He is local and has been extremely helpful.  With this support, I hope to move forward with “project Valiosa.”

If I can do this, so can you.