Maintaining Training, Solo

Friday last week was the last ride of a month of continuous training.

I’ll miss it – it’s been so nice to have help and finally get a feel for how good she can really be.

schooling with trainer
Very happy with both my coach and Valiosa here.

We wrapped up what would for us normally have been some  5-8 months of training’s worth, into 1.  Very beneficial.  Worth it all the way.

Now, time to face all the things that’ll fall apart by solo training.  Half of it might happen just over the next two weeks.  🙂

schooling dressage

To make up for that a bit, I had one lesson this week, and two scheduled the week following.

After that, it will be mostly up to me to figure it out all over again, how to get her to move soft, forward, and most importantly, into the hand...

riding alone

gray horse in canter

Señora Sesame Seed, behaving.


at halt

If two is a pair, three is a party.  So fun!

Here we go – figuring out a way back to this all on our own..!

riding with eyes closed

Keeping The Hand Closed Around The Reins

Killing you with all the endless indoor schooling pictures.

I know.

Still, here we go.

Years ago, I didn’t have the habit of opening the hand too much.  Or if I did I had no idea of doing it.  Now, it’s become a problem, and I’d like to train it away.

training to ride better

What happens is that once we’re in a really nice, soft contact, I open more, to give or something, then she’ll take advantage and become strong, say down the longside or diagonal.

Then we get strung out, half halts are not going through because now the reins are too long.  And Valiosa will lose straightness and impulsion with inconsistent contact like that right away.  Super frustrating to know the hand must stay closed, but it still opens!

horse cantering with loose open neck
Madam Milky Way working hard. 

Every time I let the contact slip like that, we lose valuable time in getting back to the “right spot”.

First step to get it right is to really believe she can go into the closed hand and stay there.  That she’s actually capable of going forward in THAT contact.

horse in canter at the downstride

Makes sense?  Because earlier, she just wasn’t capable to.

So.  I’ll be working on that in the sandbox.  Soft, closed hand.  Not an oxymoron.

gray horse doing dressage in covered arenaWhen it works, she’s awesome!

After this week we’ll be mostly on our own again.  (Oh NO!!)  Many thanks to Geñay who works with us and has been so helpful!  It’s been a blast, couldn’t have done this without you!

horse portrait

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!



Back To Basics – More Swing Over The Back

That’s been the mantra for a couple of weeks.

If you’re lucky ( 🙂 ) like me and ride a really tight horse, who’d rather push back toward you instead of softening and striding forward, it really doesn’t matter how many little figures you do, it’s still not going to be right.

short choppy trot steps in dressage
Hello choppy

So, lately, I’ve been working on really straight lines with Valiosa.  Coming into the contact, confirming more on the outside rein.

Very basic.  Forward.  With as little fussing through the corners as possible.  Thinking quiet, with swing, steady.

straight canter in dressage

She’ll come into a much different breathing this way, rhythmic, harder working, but more relaxed.  All good things.

Where things can get so short and choppy, she can now feel like she’s moving out better toward the end.

And she’s trying so much harder for me.  So grateful for her.  

three beat canter
canter forward straight

In the canter, around the full arena until she’s swinging more, actually using herself.  Forget collecting.  Finding a way to get her moving freely, not fourbeat.  And as much as possible, with both seatbones in the saddle.

Yes, it’s working.  No, we can’t show at first level this way.  Yes, confident I should stick to this for some time.

Spring Schooling Update

Taking full advantage of some more forward!

She’s been fun to ride! Still twisty-and-resisty, but we work together in a whole different way now.

softer trot

It sank in one day that no one’s really going to show up and install any sort of shoulder in button. Or haunches in. Or any other button…

And no one’s going to really say if /when we’re ready for it either…

better hind leg in trot

So, on my own I’ve played with Valiosa a few times with it and she’s responding well. Experimenting – helps if you know how to train the horse to do it.

Well, details. Then back to hind-pushing-straight focus. (It’s hard!)

No pictures of that, but if she wants to go along, maybe another time.

straight in trot
Awesome mare!

Figured out a mistake – trying to introduce quarter turns in canter. She can do them, good actually, but our focus should be on going forward in canter.

crab canter

Love it when she can stay under the seat like this, true on the outside rein, but to be more “real” the canter has to be more forward. With the front hooves coming off the ground a little more 🙂

stronger hind end in canter

Valiosa says – Good luck with that, that’s exhausting, I canter how I canter

We’ll see how that goes this summer!

dressage with gray mare

more forward canter

Few days ago – a lesson for the first time in a month.

That’s all the excitement this time. So many pictures…
Still awake?

dressage with half andalusian mare

You’re Not The Only One With a Tighter Horse In the Outdoor Arena

We’ve been schooling outside a bit – she’s much more upright and distracted out there.

Good stuff!

Mostly, I walk her on the property for conditioning on varying footing. Super helpful for her walk, so much more ground winning than a year ago. But when we’re allowed to go in one of the outdoor arenas it’s worth it with some schooling there!

tense horse in outdoor ring

horse more forward in canter outdoors

Lately she’s been forward in canter, which is not usually her thing, only to become really strong if I get fooled into too much on the inside rein. Like this ⇓ 🙂 Then she just takes off with us both.

downstride in canter

Or she’ll mix it up with a dead-stop fake-spook to keep things interesting. Mostly, I wait for her to take a breath, and then we go again as if nothing happened.

riding through spooking
My horse, a breathing tripod. Ever seen one who can place their hinds this tight? One touch and we’d tip over…

Riding Silverfish takes a lot of patience. All worth it!

dressage outdoors

As soon as it gets baking hot even before 10 am, I know we won’t be out there too much. Taking advantage when we can – show you more of that next week!