1 year under saddle – Merry Christmas To All!

Time for a quick Christmas Summary!

Only a scant year since crawling up on her back.  She’s become a wonderful horse!  This previous post  , from last month, on her first year was a huge hit  (Thank you for reading!!). 

Here’s the shorter follow-up on her 1-year progression under saddle.

The skinny on where it all started out:

Slim Shady, standing up.

Valiosa, first week

Valiosa during her first week, as a 3-year old.

A bit of just hanging out, on the ground and in terrain.

Valiosa, Traylor Ranch

And she had to endure that unflattering chest strip clip…  (Unclear how this was part of my backing process, but I like how lost she looks here.)

Valiosa December 2014


Since this is our official Christmas 2015 Post, find the Christmas 2014 Post Here

Valiosa lunging April


One of the earlier rides in March
One of the earlier rides in March


November 2015


Valiosa December


December 2015


December 2015 Canter

Santa came early.  (Thank you for replacing the skinny straight reindeer with this one!)


Talking To Yourself While Riding

This is hard

Just Go Forward

Both heels scrunching up along the sides.


Just Relax,

Go Forward!

The hands, too tight.

Too low, and why are they holding ON like that?

Release, FORWARD, that’s where the movement is.

Not backward, or out, which is where the elbows are going now.

And that short, scrunched up neck.

Please make it stop.

Now there is some mouth gaping.  Clearly not a good sign.

No acceptance.  No rhythm, no swinging.

Oh, and no looking down!

Trying too hard.

Move WITH the horse, elastically forward.  How hard can it be?!

Obviously very hard for you.

Get off.


Maybe you’re your worst critic too?

With Valiosa


Young Horse Training

It’s exciting.

It’s exhilarating.

It’s endearing.  And unnerving.  All at the same time.

Backing, breaking, and basic training Valiosa has been a snap and a marathon all at the same time.  Huge progress here and there.  Dumbfounding ridiculous “Sour-Pony-Trotting” staleness as well.

Perhaps you’re in the same shoes?  An adult amateur, training a young horse with hope of doing a bit of dressage down the line.  (And sort of wondering why on earth you’re always stuck with a young, relatively untrained horse and not out competing, but still loving it…)

If so, my posts from when I started with Valiosa in Late November, 2014 might be fun to read.

For anyone who’s done this successfully multiple times, it will be a drag, and I wouldn’t think it be worth a read.  (I’m already working a bit with a third young horse, and haven’t even cared to post about him here.)

Early Morning. Time To Get On.

Early Morning.  Time To Get On.

A treat, training with her.

Humbling, training with her.  Lucky, to be training with her.  And also very ugly.

Want to look like a complete beginner all over again?  Flailing elbows, unsteady posting, flopping upper body, and a wobbly middle, where most of your “steering” (I can’t even call it aids, because they’ve been so coarse.) comes from strange leaning a panicky “leading with the inside hand?”

YES?!  Well then, riding a young green horse is for you.

Cooper seems advanced in comparison…

Very lucky to have these two horses to ride.

They’re beautiful.  Healthy.  Wonderful, and quirky, to be around.

From the last adventure when I brought both horses up to ride in Nancy's indoor.

From the last adventure when I brought both horses up to ride in Nancy’s indoor.  Impossible for both to look normal at the same time.  So we’ll do a double!

Valiosa, in Mule pose

Valiosa, in Mule pose

Cooper – Canter Doldrums

It wasn’t long ago…

That we’d trot a 20 m at A, trot into the corner and do a 10 m trot circle (that alone was a challenge), transition to canter once back on the track on the long side, then canter down the long side.

Transition down to trot in the corner into a 10 m trot circle (SO proud of him once he could do that!) and continue to a 20 m trot circle at C, repeating all down there.  – 20 meter trot at C, 10 meter trot in corner, canter the long side, 10 meter trot in corner, 20 meter trot at A.

The less scrambling the better.  This is NOT coming easy for Cooper.

Let me illustrate just one of the many issues we have – leaning in, and over bending the neck, even on a 20 meter volte.  (Well, really, doesn’t matter even if it’s on some sort of 30 meter egg-shaped thingy.  He’ll still want to fall in like this.  Or, just as tasty; barrel around – braced, demon speed, propelled by the front legs.)

Leaning on inside shoulder in canter

Then starting over on the other lead.  I’d have to regroup sometimes between canter sessions with a 2 x 10 m circle in the corner to sort of “pull things together again.”  Ever humble, admitting it was mainly to pull myself together.

Well, we’ve talked about counseling.  But he refuses to go.  Says it’s me, not him.

So, may the “half halts within canter” begin!  Yes, that is correct – all this time, and no touching the canter gait within itself.  For a reason.

Instead of a lengthy explanation, which I will probably not define correctly anyway, let’s just say he really needed to gain confidence within this gait.  Hold his own balance at least a bit, or consider it.  He had to feel as if he could keep thinking canter.  You may not agree.

Barrel horse to dressage

In the middle of these canter doldrums, I’ll be showing him at 1st Level this weekend!  Extremely grateful to be able to go.  Can’t believe we’ll attempt 1st Level, at his 3rd show ever!  Oh dear.

Please cheer us on.  And come back early next week, if only to snicker about it all.  The laugh’s all on me.





The war is on

The fly season has descended on us. 

At your place too, of course,

We’re fighting back this year, from every angle.

Fly Spray, Fly masks, grading of pastures, a very delayed application of Fly Predators (Yes it’s late,  aaaah, it might be too late!) and, new for this year, Feed through Solitude IGR, although it hasn’t been started yet.  Until the effects all set in, Valiosa will get a month of some Bugg Supps.  They stink enough to make me think they’ll work.

3 in 1 BugLyte

All the people in Florida are just laughing at us of course, and our miniscule flies.  Me, I’m about ready to don an ear hood myself.

As for a status update on the ridden parts: 

Well, lets just say, sometimes it’s best to just recharge at home and try again another day…

My best recharge tip:

  • 1 Pink Polka Dot Pyjamas
  • 2 Spotted Dalmatians
  • 1 Home Made Fleece Blanket
  • 2 Home Made Boys – sort of under the blanket here.

Dalmatians in bed

It’s all good.  Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!

Cooper – Before and After

Such a sucker for Before and Afters.

Seriously, if you have a post on it, I’d love to see it!  I just think it’s very inspirational!

Here’s Cooper, the little (but hugely powerful) Blue Roan I have been riding at Blue Horse Farm.  He came with a light Western Start, and then not much work at all…

Starting up as a pasture potato last July.  All flab, dull, and with a sliding stop.

Coming in to work July

Notice, too, the little thin wisp of an Appaloosa tail.  We mostly walked up and down the hills at Castle Rock Farm, some trotting in the arena.

7 Weeks later, slimmed down and no longer a walking founder waiting to happen.  A little thin chickin’ neck instead.

Neck starting out, 7 weeks later

The neck now.  Surely he looks stronger?  Not visible is his huge (ewe neck) under-neck muscle that I’m trying to encourage going away.

Neck in April

Here we are during Easter Week.

I have a lot of fun training together with Cooper!  He’s full of tricks, all aimed the opposite of rhythm, relaxation, submission, or suppleness.

Cooper strutting his appaloosa stuff


Cooper April 2015


Blue Roan

Thank you SO much for checking in on us!  Struggling as an adult amateur dressage rider is hard work.

I always find it inspiring to see others working with their less than stellar horses and making progress.  Especially if they are less than stellar riders!


If I can do this, so can you!

A couple of earlier “Before & Afters below:”

3 1/2 month Tail Makeover

Then & Now, Conformation Update