Friday, December 30, 2016

Louisiana clinic day four

Our week in Louisiana flew by, and now we are all home again. Everyone, that is, except Dakota, who decided to refuse to load for the trip home. I had really been working with him on loading in the weeks leading up to the trip, and when we left Lubbock he hopped on board like a pro. I expected no trouble, but after ninety minutes of trying we left him behind at Holly's barn. We had ten hours of driving in front of us and couldn't spend the whole day loading Mr. D. I've got a call in to Equine Express to pick him up ASAP. We didn't let that little hiccup put a damper on our wonderful visit and clinic.

Here are the videos from the final day of the clinic. Clair gave me some BIG trot and I got better control of my body in canter, most of the time. Dakota was feeling almost 100% and was wonderfully relaxed and responsive. The biggest homework for him is to work on canter by working on canter departs. Lots and lots of trot-canter-trot-canter on a circle, with just a few strides of canter at a time. R rides him almost 100% of the time, so all credit to her for how great he's going! I'm hoping to be able to get on him maybe once a week now that my little gig with Wylie the OTTB has ended.

We'll also be doing some INTENSIVE work on trailer loading :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Louisiana clinic day three

Clair and Dakota are really enjoying their vacation pasture. :)

Here are the videos from day three. Dakota was a little sore behind so we only did walk and a little gentle trot; didn't get any video of that. Clair was super! I worked very hard on flapping my upper body less in canter. Always something to improve.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Louisiana clinic day one -- Christmas Day

Ted and I had a problem-free trip to Louisiana on Christmas Eve. We left Lubbock around 8:30 a.m. and arrived in Monroe just after 6 pm. The horses happily munched grass hay the whole way, and their poops looked nice and healthy upon arrival. Clair leaped off the trailer with her usual enthusiasm, and Dakota hopped off like a gentleman. They're staying at trainer Holly's barn, and they're getting to have a whole hilly pasture to themselves. What could be better after ten hours stuck on a trailer?

Suzanne was completely up for giving me lessons on Christmas Day! What a dedicated trainer! And personally, there's probably nothing I'd rather be doing on Christmas Day than training with Suzanne. It was a warmish, humid day, so I rode in a t-shirt. Clair was up first. Ted wasn't able to get a lot of video of that ride because he was busy trying to unstick the tack room door lock on our trailer. I couldn't get any of my tack out, or gloves, helmet, whip... But luckily Holly has multiples of everything to try so we got a saddle and bridle to fit, and a helmet, and gloves. Clair didn't bat an eye and went happily under a different saddle, with a different bit, and a flash, which she normally doesn't wear. She's such a trouper. She settled right into work. The trot work went super well, and Ted did manage to unstick the lock and make it back to get video of canter. Right lead canter felt really good, and left got better as we went. I need to stop moving back and forth so much. Less pumping with the upper body, and less sliding of the butt forward and back in the saddle. We've got three more days of lessons to improve the canter.

Dakota was fence walking in the pasture the whole time I was working Clair. He didn't holler much, but he was anxious and in a full lather. It used to be that Dakota would scream for Clair, and Clair couldn't care less, but today when I popped Clair in the pasture and grabbed Dakota, Clair hollered frantically for quite awhile, and Dakota kept answering. He was a bit of a challenge to tack up as all he could think about was getting back to Clair. But we got 'er done, and after about twenty minutes of walking to let him settle (which still involved some screaming) he finally found his focus and we got some work done. There's some actual decent shoulder-in in the video (and some not-so-great shoulder-in). The canter departs were pretty terrible, but I was proud of him for pulling himself together and going to work after being in near-panic mode during tack-up. Tomorrow should go a lot better.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Suzanne May December clinic: Sunday!

More trotting goodness from Sunday. Clair is REALLY moving, and I'm starting to be able to stick with her as we move towards a medium. Still lots of work to do in canter, which we didn't spend any time on on Sunday. Exciting plans: my husband and I are hauling Clair and Dakota to Louisiana for an intensive four-day clinic with Suzanne! We'll leave Christmas Eve day and return the following Thursday. I'm so pumped! We made such good progress in this past clinic, and continuing the training and consistency so soon is going to be wonderful. Plus Dakota will have a little boot camp and practice going somewhere.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Suzanne May December clinic: Saturday!

This clinic, for me, was almost 100% about the trot -- me sitting it well, me learning to apply effective half halts that resulted in a more beautiful gait. And we had great success! I'm still flying high! I think if you listen to Suzanne and watch closely, you'll get a small master course in what an effective half half looks like. You can actually see it in many of these videos. It's all timing, timing, timing. I was sort of getting it before the clinic, but Suzanne helped me refine my aids to hold just a bit longer after asking for the half steps, so that Clair steps through to the poll. It takes some practice. Sometimes I give too soon, and sometimes I hold too long. But when I get it, the trot shifts into bigger, swingier mode.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Focus on sitting trot

Ever since the September show in Tyler I've been quite focused on improving my sitting trot. When I watched the second-level tests from the show, I was aghast at my wobbly thighs! I was crabbing my legs upward, no weight in heels, unsteady in my core. Yikes. Clair doesn't have the easiest trot to sit -- it's not bad, but it's not the laz-e-boy comfort of Dakota's trot, or even Wylie's. I'm going to have to develop a strong, classical seat to get all I can out of Clair's trot. Her sire has a beautiful extension, and I can get a nice extension from her in posting trot, but now it's time to expect more from myself.

These videos are from a couple weeks ago.

I'm so much happier with how I'm sitting. Suzanne was kind enough to watch the videos, and this was her feedback:

Much, much improved in sitting (especially in canter and last trot video). Transitions are much better, too. As a side note, turn on haunch left is good. Right she didn't have enough bend in body and also stepped back. Much less curling overall (good stretchy), but would like her a bit more off forehand. I would warm her up in rising trot, but occasionally do a few half-steps sitting with lower leg on and long to drive hind legs under. Be sure to soften reins (without leaning forward) to see if she offers a moment of self-carriage. Then forward again rising. After that, stay sitting for forward trans. Also, think medium in lateral work. There has to be more "urgency" to it. Not "oh, OK, how's this?". Try to tighten core/abs even more as if you are trying to prevent rib cage from collapsing down onto hip bones - all with chest open and shoulders back. Great progress toward that end! You still actively move in sitting, but it is more proactive (driving) than reactive (collapsing).

So since then, I'm working on a bigger trot and a prompt reaction when I ask for half steps, then another prompt reaction to forward when I give. It's going great! I love the feeling when I tighten my core and stretch up and down, tall as I can, and Clair coils up like a spring. Then I drive with my seat and give a bit with the reins, and she moves out big. And I feel like I'm staying with her! Shoulder in is getting big and floaty. Now I'm trying to play around with the same feeling in canter. The next clinic is coming up December 10-11!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Some no-stirrup work on Wylie

My entire focus since the show has been working to improve my seat. Head up, weight traveling all the way down to the stirrups, toes in, belly pulled in. More than anything, I think getting my weight all the way down into my heels, toes in, has led to a big improvement. I'm doing no-stirrup work with Wylie because he's such a steady Eddie. Once I feel really strong I'll do the same on Clair (not quite such a steady Eddie).

Monday, October 3, 2016

More wisdom from Suzanne

I try to read and memorize every piece of email advice Suzanne sends me. In the run up to the show, and immediately after, I received lots of helpful suggestions! I was able to incorporate some of it into my rides at the show, and I've been trying very hard to remember all of it in my training rides since then.

Unfortunately, one-sided-ness is "the story of our life" as riders. Each side must be ridden a little different from the other. Just be sure to pump the stiff rein no matter which way you are going. Don't hang on too long. At the same time, sit down in the saddle. Open chest, tighten core (pull in stomach).

I hope the advice I sent yesterday helped your ride or at least gave you something to work on. Remember to stabilize the horse's neck between the shoulders. Keep it as straight as possible. That is the only way balance will be improved by half-halts reaching the hind fetlock.

I am glad to hear the halt is better.

Your position needs to be stabilized, too. Sit tall, but DOWN! Drape your legs along the sides of the horse and down into the heel. Too much bend in the knee, causes your leg to "crab up" and pop you off the saddle. For sitting medium trot, legs don't squeeze. It's all about balance on your seat bones - bearing down.

Send me any problems or questions or misunderstandings that come up this week. Hugs, Sue


Leg CAN come on in downward canter transitions - as in all down transitions (scissor action to maintain bend, with some inside seat bone, as in canter depart). Seat is for forward, legs for collection which leads to downward trans. Also, in the medium trot from the seat, remember to give her support with your hands. It should feel as if she is pulling on you a little more. Occasionally, you can "squeeze like a sponge" to keep her from getting locked up. In other words, more in the hand should not become stiff in the poll. You can see that this will only enhance her acceptance of the bit and prevent curling.

P.S. Timing, timing, timing! Get into the rhythm of each gait.


I think you are "right on" in your observations. Sitting trot w/o stirrups is fine, but then you have to be able to keep it up when you pick them back up. It's all about your core and bearing down and only bracing your back when your seat bones hit the saddle. Keeping shoulders back is important. You rarely, if ever, hollow your back, so don't worry about a slight curve. It would actually look elegant. Look up to keep your head lined up over your spine. Mykola used to make us look up at the rafters in the indoor!

Your lower body in general has too much movement. There has to be some control without tightness. It's more about turning toes and knees in. In other words, maintaining a position without clamping. Try to stretch your calf muscles, too.

I realized this week that if, while riding, I can see my hands and/or the pommel, my head is tipped too far forward. So I've been focusing on making sure my head is up enough at all times. I'm also playing with all sorts of variations in my sitting trot to try to improve it. I had forgotten how much no-stirrup work kills the abdominals!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

First level bronze scores: check!

Clair and I competed at the Texas Rose Dressage Fall Classic I & II in Tyler this past weekend. It was my first rated show in a decade and Clair's first rated show ever. My goal was to get our first level bronze scores and to give second level a try--and maybe get those scores too, or at least see what the judges felt about our skills. Suzanne met up with us and provided such great coaching and support! She also brought along one of her students, L, who helped groom and provided moral support. My husband also came, so I had quite the cheering section.

Clair handled the whole weekend like a pro. She is such a self-sufficient mare. She settled right into her stall, and ate, drank, and pooped like a champion. She was a little difficult during the first test on the first day, but then she rode pretty much like her usual self. She wasn't a bit spooky; she's definitely an outdoor-arena sort of horse. I had some trouble with her picking up wrong canter leads, which she never does at home, but those mistakes were simply due to rider complacency. Overall I was thrilled with her attitude.

I got a 65 and 63 on first-one, which will count as my first level bronze scores, and got a 55 and 58.7 on second one (so close!). I'm not entirely happy with my sitting trot--you can see in the videos that my lower half has way too much motion going on. I also lean too far back sometimes. And I don't have Clair moving big enough. I'm going to start working without stirrups on both Clair and Wylie to see if I can't stabilize myself. I have all winter to work on my seat, and I'll hope to knock out second level at an early spring show. Clair can do it, no question. I mostly need to work on me.

This is the amazing disappearing dressage test. The humidity was 90% and the lens fogged over within seconds :)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Schooling show with Clair and Wylie

Last Sunday was the schooling show at the barn around the corner. I showed Clair second-one and second-two, and Wylie training-one and training-two. I didn't ask enough of Clair, and our scores were just mediocre. We got a 60% on second-one and a 63% on second-two. I'd never shown second-two before, so I actually wasn't too disappointed with a 63%. But if I'd had my head in the game better, I think we'd have scored five percent higher on each test. I cringe a little to see how far I'm leaning back!

I shared the videos with clinician Suzanne, and she responded immediately with a boatload of wonderful, specific advice. I thought y'all might be interested in watch the videos above and then reading the two messages and one texted exercise Suzanne sent me:

Message one:

O.K. I'm going to start with generalities. Clair seemed a little deep and needs to be more forward - more metronome-like, more air time. This all indicates a lack of balance. Half-halts are not making it thru to the hind fetlock. This leads to you leaning back too far in an effort to push her. It results, occasionally, in an "S" shape in your back. You have to sit up straight and bear down (tighten your core) and follow the movement but not try to push her. She just gets more behind the leg.

This got a little better as the test went on. Lateral work (shoulder-in and travers) looked pretty darn good, too. Also, counter-canter. She was very crooked in the rein back, though, stepped out in right turn on haunches and got a little "mouthy" by the end.

Half-halts really, really need to come thru. Everyone says it, everyone's heard it. I don't care if she throws her head up at first as long as she sits. Sometimes many steps of rein back help. Until she carries herself, she doesn't get much of a medium trot. I know she has it in her. We just have to get it consistently so it becomes the norm.

Wish I was there talking in your ear every stride! Hugs, Sue

Texted exercise:

OK! It's done in one end of the arena. Could think of it as a big circle or square. Trot, do a few steps of shoulder-in along the rail, use the bend to do a nice corner softening the inside rein and straightening with the outside rein. Another corner or part of circle onto the center line. Then lengthen or medium for a half dozen strides on centerline into a half-halt before turn and turn the opposite way. Repeat on that side. Can be done toward the short side or, later, away from the short side. Make sense? I used it with 2 riders with very different horses. One was heavy and strung out, but the other was forward and lighter. Worked for both. I thought about Clair and her tendency to curl and if this would help or hurt. Wish I was there to watch you do this and tweak if necessary.

Message two:

Exactly! Always ask a little more than she offers! One thing I want to mention because I have been clarifying it with E. Half-halts! Legs on for half-halts. Both hands ask. Keep the neck as straight as possible. We want to stabilize the neck between the shoulders. Remember when Wolf used to say to bend "in spite of" the outside rein? That's what he meant. To pull on the stiff rein over and over, for instance, without the soft rein acting as resistance, does nothing in the softening process or in getting the horse to take more hold on the soft rein. Give rather quickly, even if you don't think she softened much or at all. When you give, stop squeezing with your legs, too. Sit in instead (bear down, use your seat) with soft hands and legs. If it works, you will experience at least a few steps of self-carriage. If it doesn't, repeat!

I think I have been unclear when I say "outside rein along the neck and open inside rein". I just wanted to get across the idea of bend, but the bend is in the body. Anytime there is bend in the neck, the half-halt escapes to the outside of the neck instead of making it all the way through the body of the horse.

I can understand not wanting to do too much rein back. When you do it, make sure your upper body stays back and you block or push with whatever leg you need to keep her straight (she tends to overreact to the stiff rein sending her haunches the opposite direction).

When you do halt, drive her into it by closing both legs and pumping the brakes with the hands. As soon as she halts, drop the reins and soften the legs immediately. Just become a "sack of potatoes". Of course this is at home. At the show it will be the same idea but not as drastic. The halt really isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It's not frantic or gnashing or anything. It'll come around.

Hope this clarifies and helps! Hugs, Sue

P.S. The purpose of the exercise is to be able to change promptly and smoothly. Don't do anything too long or lull her into doing something from repetition or boredom.

I've had three rides after receiving this help, and wowza. Clair is moving big, and I'm staying with her in sitting trot. The biggest clue that something is more correct is that I'm getting a true stretchy trot circle with a connection over her back to the bit -- for the first time since I've owned her. I just sent in my entry for a show in Tyler, Texas, in four weeks, and I'm hopeful that we'll get our first and second level scores for our bronze.

I also showed Wylie, and surprise! We got a 76% on training-one, which was high point for the show. We also got a 67% on training-two. What a wonderful boy Wylie is! I could not be more proud of him going so well for me after just three weeks of riding him.

In other news, we had a little rain on Wednesday. This was the parking lot:

And this was the pasture:

Thankfully, we are already well on our way to drying out.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Suzanne & Holly clinic video dump #3: Here's Wylie!

I rode Wylie in the clinic last weekend. I think I had ridden him all of five times before the first day of the clinic. He's a typical OTTB -- very sensitive and eager to please. He and I are still figuring each other out, but every ride has been pleasant and drama-free. I get to ride this sweet boy a few times a week through December.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Suzanne & Holly clinic video dump #1

I can't believe I haven't posted in seven weeks. Bad blogger. Much has happened, including prepping to ride Second One and Second Two at a schooling show next weekend, and me taking on another horse to ride while said horse's mom, M, is in Houston working on a college internship. The new guy's name is Wylie, and he's an eventer. I'll just be doing dressage with him. He's the sweetest OTTB that ever was. We had a clinic last weekend and I rode both Clair and Wylie. I'll include vids of Wylie in an upcoming post. For now, here's Clair, day one (the third video has trainer Holly Cook on board).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Clinic with Suzanne and Holly, part 2

Here's R's lesson on Dakota on day 2, almost in its entirety. They get started on shoulder in, do some work on turns on the haunches (which Dakota practically nails on their very first attempts), and continue work on clean and prompt canter departs. Everything is going to so well! R will be embarrassed, but I have to say again how lucky Dakota and I are to have found the perfect lease for him. R is such a talented and kind rider, so pleasant to be around, and so dedicated to riding and learning. How could we ask for more?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Clinic with Suzanne and Holly, part 1

Clair and I made huge progress in the canter during the clinic this past weekend. My canter-walk transitions were a bit hit and miss, and I knew it was due to the quality of the canter. Suzanne worked me through getting Clair straight and back on her haunches in canter, and wow. I think you can see the ghost of an upper-level canter from time to time in this video. And when the quality of the canter was good, the transition to walk was easy. This video shows day two. My homework is mainly to keep Clair up in front, and keep my hands low. I'm so excited about how things are going!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Successful schooling show!

I rode my three tests last night and scribed for 4+ hours today, so I'm too tired to write much about the show other than that both Clair and Dakota were rock stars! Clair can be spooky in indoor arenas, but she didn't blink an eye at this arena. We had a wonderfully relaxed warmup and got a 64 on First Two, a 67 on First Three, and a 68 on Second One. We've gotta work on halt, reinback, and canter-walk, but I was nothing but thrilled with how she went for me!

Dakota was utterly chill about being back in the arena he showed in back in February. He's such a sensible man. He got a 69% and Reserve High Point for Training Two!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Schooling show in less than two weeks!

R and I will be competing at a schooling show on June 5. I plan to show First 2 and 3 and Second 1, and R plans on all three Training level tests. This past weekend we both ran through our tests. It was my first time running Clair through Second 1, and R's first time running Dakota (and herself!) through Training level.

The trot work for Second 1 was pretty darn good for our first attempts. I need to work on our halts, our reinback, and a relaxed walk. I also need to make sure Clair isn't ducking. Other than that, I think we'll score ok on the trot.

The canter work is way iffier. We're getting quite good at canter to walk, but only when I get to choose the exact right time to ask. As I found out on Sunday, when I have to do it at a letter, I usually don't get it. On the plus side, walk to canter is good, and the counter canter was fine. We have two weeks to see if we can't get the canter-walk transitions more reliably. Clair was so sweet about doing her best in spite of me getting overly handsy in this ride.

R is new to dressage and works without a trainer almost exclusively. I offer some tips from time to time, but for the most part she's figuring this dressage stuff out on her own. She's really progressing quickly! Below are her first ever attempts at riding training level tests. She has work to do, of course, but there are so many moments where they look fabulous. She's working on getting the feel for creating bend with her seat and legs. I like that she's very tactful with her hands. Dakota is picking up the canter very reliably in both directions and much more promptly. R is doing such a good job with him!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Second level progress

I have the Texas Rose Dressage Fall Classic squarely in my sights. It's in September, and my (perhaps overly-optimistic) hope is to knock out my first and second level scores at one show. I don't really have the time or money to compete all the time, and in any case the competitions are quite far away from Lubbock.

I'm happy with our work last night. I feel like I'm starting to really get in sync in the sitting trot. Shoulder-in is solid in both directions, and travers is coming right along. We're really starting to develop an extension, too. I've been working Clair over ground poles quite a bit, and I am quite sure her trot has improved. She has a floatiness now that I didn't have last year.

Counter canter is getting better and better. We are nailing canter-walk at least 50% of the time. Walk-canter is mostly there, although you'll see she picks up the wrong lead below and it takes me four strides to notice. Oops.

Watch close and you'll see an extremely athletic spook at the far end of the arena. She sat down so far behind her butt almost hit the dirt.

If you've ever wondered what ground poles can do for your horse, take a look at this still image. So much articulation behind! Now I have to learn how to sit that.

Next Suzanne May/Holly Cook clinic coming up in late June. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Obvious improvements in Clair (and myself) since clinic!

I wrote down everything I could remember learning at the February clinic and have been applying it religiously. I'm starting each ride with ten minutes of walk on a long rein, using alternating seat bones to develop an energetic walk, and asking for bend with my seat only. Suzanne called this "establishing the conversation," and it has made a huge difference in Clair's forwardness. I can come off the walk work into an energetic, in-front-of-my-leg working trot. No more kicking and nagging to get Clair to shift gears. I've also been riding my canters big, big, big, and straight, before asking for any collection. She's feeling much less sticky in canter now. Finally, she's starting to go reliably with her poll up. She still ducks from time to time, but I'd say we've reached 85% poll up. I can see the difference in her trot -- she has freedom in her shoulder and bouncier suspension. She's actually got an uphill look to her at times now!

I love how far she's stepping underneath in canter, especially to the right. Her inside hind comes all the way under the girth! Watch video #3 to see some textbook simple changes through trot. They're pretty fab, if I do say so myself.

High poll, uphill trot!

Look at the inside hind leg reach!

The next clinic is planned for June 25-26. I hope we make as much progress as we did in February!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Schooling the golden boy in the golden hour

R is out of town on spring break, so I've been working Dakota for her. She has done an amazing job with him. The last time I got on him was in early January, and he feels so much more bendable now. Lately he's been tensing, throwing his head, and running -- all in anticipation of canter. So tonight I aimed for an utterly chill mustang with a loose neck. I spent lots of time bending him back and forth. Yes, he's low and behind the bit, but he's very easy to bring up in front, and he was so relaxed and happy with the work. With Kota, he'd rather be up than down, so I ride him down. With Clair, she'd rather be down than up, so I (try to) ride her up. You pretty much always do the opposite of what they'd like to do.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday schooling

I'm back in the saddle post-surgery! Today we worked on some shoulder-in to haunches-in, counter canter, and a little bit of walk-canter at the end. We got a really good walk-canter to the left! Canter-walk is still a work in progress.

I heard a rumor that there will be another schooling show at the nearby barn sometime in March. This time Clair and I will be there!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Two blues and a red for R and Dakota!

Dakota was wonderfully well-behaved and cooperative at his very first dressage show (R's first dressage show, too)!

The show was held at the barn just around the corner -- about a seven-minute-walk across a field away. R walked Dakota over in hand, and I loaded up the tack and drove it over. Dakota actually boarded at this barn for a few days when he first arrived in Texas. I didn't really expect him to be silly since he knew the barn and arena, but the weather went from 85 yesterday to low 60s and very windy today, and you just never know. He walked over like a gentleman. R arrived with him right when they had a break, so she was able to walk him in the arena for ten minutes. He called to every vaguely bay-looking horse to see if it was Clair, but he was by no means frantic about it. He just missed his Clair. Then we had a bit of a wait until R's first ride. Dakota was very patient--he is just so sensible.

Intro A went very well. Dakota was a little fussy with his head, which is a thing he has been doing a bit more as R has been asking for more prompt canter departs. Dakota has started anticipating canter--a completely normal stage. He wants to show off this new thing he knows! It was still a very respectable test; he was quiet and obedient. We were all thrilled with his debut: 65% and blue ribbon!

Intro B was beautiful. R rode Dakota a little more forward, and it was just so fluid and pretty. 68.75% and blue ribbon!

Intro C has canter, and Dakota is not super confirmed just yet. Right lead went fine, but left lead didn't happen. The trot work was once again superb! 62% and red ribbon! By the next show, the canter will be there, and I'm sure R and Dakota will start training level. I'm so proud of them!

I had my gallbladder out on Wednesday and was told no riding for two weeks. I'll probably give it ten days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Suzanne May clinic, day 2: R on Dakota

Dakota's canter has gone from wild and woolly and pretty strung out, to much more put together! R gets all the credit for putting the canter in. I'm not sure if Dakota had ever cantered under saddle before I got him. I made a few attempts to canter but never got more than a messy stride or two. R has brought him along so far that she's going to show Intro 3 this weekend, which has a little canter. She practiced last night and it went great! Doesn't Dakota look adorable in this clinic clip?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Suzanne May clinic, day two: me and Holly on Clair

Clair was much more elevated on day two without the need for constant reminding. My position was better too! I mastered getting her past her spooky spots, and then Holly took her for a spin. Highlights include walk pirouettes and some really nice left half pass. I need to work on right bend, right bend, right bend. The mare has been faking me out to the right.

I'm having my gall bladder out Wednesday, and even though I probably could ride in the schooling show on Sunday, I've decided not to. R is going to show Dakota; she hasn't competed in dressage before, so I'll go and be her groom/test reader. If Dakota goes the way he has been going at home, they'll do well!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Clair and I make lots of progress, too!

Day one of the Suzanne May clinic, my main focus was getting Clair to carry herself higher in front, and breaking a bad habit I've developed of jamming my feet too far home into the stirrups, so my heels can't flex down. I also added a new tool to my toolkit -- how to ride by something "spooky" without letting the horse look at the object and swing her haunches way out. Once I got the hang of it, I really had Clair's number and she gave up the ghost (pun intended).

More video to come of Clair on day two, with both me and trainer Holly on board. Holly got lovely half passes to the left!

There's a schooling show at the barn right around the corner on February 21. R is pretty sure she's going to show Dakota, and I would love to show Clair. The only wrinkle: I'm having my gallbladder out on February 17. I think I can probably do it, but I'll just have to wait and see. I was on a horse two days after having my appendix out, so I'm optimistic!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dakota and R strut their stuff during day one of the Suzanne May clinic

Just look at the progress made by these two! Suzanne exclaimed over and over again what a great student R is. She really listens and has enough control over her body to fix things without having her overall balance change. Dakota looked so happy, and boy is he cute when he comes onto the aids. I'll post more video of them from Day 2 in a couple days, when R really gets him put together in canter. They are progressing at lightning speed!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

We're ready too!

I feel good about where Clair and I are, too. The main issue we're having is simply her wanting to go behind the vertical. These videos show that. I really have to get it into my routine to be more vigilant about how she's carrying herself. For example, she falls out of canter a couple times in one of the videos below, and it's at least partly because her low head is pulling her onto her forehand. We'll get good help on that during the clinic!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

More Dakota highlights

R is the perfect human for Dakota. She's so patient with him and has wonderful equitation. He works hard for her. Today I suggested a couple trot-canter exercises and they both nailed them on the first try! We're having a clinic with Suzanne May next weekend and they are more than ready.