Gray Mare – Not Giving Anything Away For Free

On her own she’d never come up with the idea of offering a big trot.

Or an elastic one.  Or relaxed.  Or a balanced, willing, and ground winning canter.  That’d be way too easy right?  Every ride, it all has to be created from scratch.  Sometimes it feels like it would be really rewarding if she’d just be offering something voluntarily on her own 🙂

Then again, it’s really interesting to be doing this, to see where she can go. So happy to have her, if hundreds of images of the same horse wasn’t a tip-off.

training with a young horse

Living with other horses has really made her happy.  Screaming to them while under saddle is not welcome though.  As it is strictly Verboten, her latest thing is to let out a looong sort of “under-the-breath” squeal while still continuing work.

Feels like riding a female walrus, or let’s make it seal – more flattering – her back vibrating while she’s making code noises to them.  I should get mad, really, but she’s just so silly.

dressage toward second level

OK, so she’s showed well at Intro, and Training, plus the very first test at First Level.  It’s been my goal from start to bring her to Second Level.  Very lofty ideas!

I have a little bit more help now.  So happy about that!

How fun it would be to work on getting a Bronze Medal with this horse!!

Actually, someone is probably not going to let me hunt scores on their “better trained and higher level” horse, so yes, it’s going to have to be her!

cantering with new bit

2nd Year With Valiosa

Time for the 2nd annual Before & After post.

Press hard with that little scroll finger, another photo bomb 🙂

This is where it started, late November 2014 – her first week after I bought her, as a 3-year old.

thin 3 year old horse
Just a smallish squid, really.

1 year later:

horse conformation picture
November 2015

She’s grown up even more since then.  Thankfully, big improvement in rideability, too 🙂

Starting out, this was a few months after backing her:

young horse under saddleMarch 2015

"Elinor Yee"In winter, early 2016

As for the rest of 2016, we’ve had a fun year, with lot’s of “young horse” variety stuff with friends.

drought at folsom lakeAll sorts of trail rides thanks to wonderful friends who’ve taken us places.

first dressage show with young horseSeveral shows since this very first one in late 2015, where she placed First and Second Place at Intro Level.

difficult to canter with young horseFebruary 2016 – She looks good here.  But I already realized the canter would REALLY take some time to, ehrm, develop.

jumping on lunge lineMarch 2016 – learning to jump.

"Elinor Yee"April 2016 at Training Level.

Elinor YeeMay 2016 at Training Level.

horse jumping off high at a low jumpJune 2016 – sure jumping with me too.  Everything is worth trying.

grey horse jumpingJuly 2016 – of course she did it better on her own.

Elinor YeeAugust 2016

dressage over trot poles to strengthen core musclesSeptember 2016 – starting cavalettis.

5 year old horses on trail
Some awesome trail rides with her friend Orion.
grey mare in posting trot
September 2016

young mare schooling training level dressage

Elinor Yee

dressage show first levelOctober 2016, Debut at First Level.

developing the canter with young horse
November 2016 – Really liking how she can carry herself better now!

It’s been two fun years with this mare.  Amazed there could be so many readers interested in looking at our attempts to go from halter breaking, to backing, and to the showring.  This winter I’ll be working on making her more reliable.  Still playing and goofing off, but she should settle in for focused work, well, sooner.  My goal is to bring her to Second Level later – for now, long out of reach :).

Thank you for tagging along with us!

I said something about this horse not knowing how to jump…?

Rambled about it some time ago.

How she’d just plow straight through even a half-foot tall single pole.  No kidding.  (Find it here:  Grey Mare don’t jump.)

Well.  No one showed up to teach it to her.  So we did it on our own.  🙂

Told her she wasn’t allowed to jump high.  She did it anyway.  Sassy.  Where’d she get that from?

horse next to barrel
– OMG! A barrel! I’m going to jump it!

Nope, no.  No you’re not.  It’s not what we do.  You don’t have the skills to do it, it could be harmful, and besides, it could confuse your training.

horse talk
– Oh yeah?! Just watch me! I go!

No, we do dressage, you’re a bit lazy, and some say you’re simply not built for it.  Besides, you don’t look the part.  And I’m not entirely convinced you know how to canter correctly.  Just stick to some circles and low-level stuff.

confused horse
– Um, what? It’s not for me?  But I thought I could do anything?

Hate to break it to you, but it’s not in your cards.  Besides, it builds all the wrong muscles.  And that harsh landing, argh, pounding straight down on the forehand!  It looks painful, and it twists the sacroiliac, and do it enough you’ll have an ugly Hunter’s Bump.

horse looking confused
– But… I want to be something too.  We can’t just have a little fun?  Besides, just WHO gets to make up all the rules?

Simple facts.  Accept your path, don’t monkey around.

horse learning to jump
– I don’t CARE. Look! I’m doing it!

Smokes, Wow you did it!  Wish you’d feel the same about, well, just trotting straight forward…

horse trotting on lunge line
– I told you so!!

OK, I think we should do some suppling work.  Or think classical.  Or walk slowly in a small circle while I limp backwards and almost topple over every fourth step.

horse speeding on lunge line when jumping
– Hey, I’ve been thinking about something by the way…

Doesn’t look like much thinking.

Horse rearing on lunge line
– I thought that maybe now, when you’re in a cast and feeling vulnerable and all….


horse bucking on lunge line
– I thought you should whip out the bareback pad and we’ll do some work together. What do you say?

I say you’ve lost it and need to move on, and this is a very awkward blog post.

horse galloping on lunge line
– Fine, whatevers. Now I go Faaaaast!
horse jumping from trot
– Weeeeh! Check me out, I did this from trot.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

When The Canter Doesn’t Improve As Planned

Last week, several of those rides where I seriously considered the sanity in doing this.

Backing and training a young horse, spending endless time effort and resources on getting her to be a decent citizen.  All the while having so many things go wrong.  Some days she still feels barely greenbroke.

Then a ride here and there will be a giant step forward, and it all seems worth it.

Lately, the canter has been a major sticking point.  Getting worse.  Irregular, fourbeat, sticky, hesitant, tight, low, crabby, small, you name it.  Definitely not improving.

low to the ground canter
This is not it
tight canter
Not this either

Just like you, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to help create a more free-flowing, ground winning, basic canter.  How hard can it be, right?!  She doesn’t care.  We Crab-Canter on…

improving the canter
With spurs…
four beat canter
No spurs…
no stirrups in canter
No stirrups, it’s all the same…

No wait, I actually really like her right there above, but it doesn’t last for long.  Then she dives down again, looses rhythm, or canters like a Weiner dog.

very uphill canter
Of course it’s completely fair to compare her to Spanish Super Star, Top International, Cardenas bred, Fuego… Here in Kentucky.

On her own, it’s a bit better sometimes.  If you don’t love to be greeted like this (And all for a cookie, really!?…) then something is wrong.

horse cantering uphill in pasture
Uphill, in pasture

End of post.  No major reveal at the end.  But this should all make you feel a lot better about whatever sticky situation you’re dealing with.  At least you got this down!

Continuing the slow death of Short Stabby Strides.  I’ll let you know when we get through this.  🙂  Have an awesome Monday!

transitions to improve the canter

When You’re Sure This Is NOT How It’s Supposed To Feel

But it still looks just about right…

It’s so confusing, isn’t it?

warm up walk dressage
Walk warmup

Our rides lately haven’t felt at all like I would want them to.  Way too much “stuff” going on.  Way too little “other stuff” going on.

Posting lightly, driving forward, trying not to nag, staying in balance, keeping a light bend to the inside without over bending, not fighting, thinking forward and rewarding the effort when it comes – it still doesn’t feel like it has paid off.

tense in the neck and behind the legLast show at Training Level got some really nice scores.  But the feeling during schooling rides at home is, well, less than sublime.

And then, got these pictures of a ride last week, and she looks good!  In many of them, Valiosa definitely looks like she has improved a lot.  A ton!  And there’s new muscle.  This is SO nice to see!

building muscle on the neck on dressage horse

training level mare schooling in arena

young mare schooling training level dressageI’m still not convinced about the feeling.  We still have to feel so complicated? Really?!?

So.  If you’re sitting at home, deflated and feeling like you’re working way too hard with everything around your barn time, your horse, and your riding.  You’re not alone.

grey mare in posting trot
Favorite pic this time. Go grey mare!

Towards The End Of Summer Training

This is where we are now

She feels looser, and easier in the body.  More willing, and we’re definitely more of a team.  (On a good day.)

These are just some quick pic grabs – no time to get the real photos off the camera today.  I’m just thrilled that she can look decent for more than a split second.

So,  Photobomb!

young grey mare dressage

stretchy trot wtih young horse

This time, I rode her in several very short, 3-4 minute bouts, with lots of stretchy trot and walk on the buckle in between.

It’s both good and bad.  Great way to keep her happy, but difficult to really “get” anywhere, since it takes me a while to get her back together again.

half andalusian grey mare

half bred grey mare

half andalusian mare

grey young mare dressage

Yes, lot’s of stretchy trot.  Best if down and OUT, not just down.  Not there yet.

young dressage horse stretchy trot

At the end, a bit of no stirrup work, thanks to Leueen, of Horse Addict, who inspired me to do it with my young mare.

canter with no stirrups

We’re pretty derpy most of the time, but I’m beginning to see a little hint of light.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss it 🙂

Elinor Yee

Have a lovely horse weekend!!