Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dressaging Pony

When I was in highschool (ie taking regular riding lessons), I got up to 1st level dressage stuff before taking a long break. As I think most of you are aware, I haven't had any semblance of "regular" lessons since then. I just get a smattering, here and there.

So. At this point, I'd say I've pretty much taught Izzy everything I know about dressage. She goes willingly forward into contact at the walk, trot and canter. She can do small transitions within gaits, and is reliable at leg yielding (both directions) and shoulder in (confirmed left, very close right). We do nice trot/halt/trot transitions, she has a decent reinback, and she's just plain fun to ride.

All that said, Izzy is starting to get bored. Now that she's mastered what I'm asking of her, she can do it and let her attention completely wander. She's like me--we need challenges.

The only problem is that I have nothing to challenge her with. I started a new exercise last night--we'd ride deep into the corner before the longside, then leg yield out to quarter line, straight for a stride, and leg yield back before the next corner. It was fun and challenging for both of us. My thinking is that it will force me to be more correct and ride straighter, which will hopefully prep her for lateral movements that move in the direction of the bend, instead of away from it.

I'm also adding in canter leg yields. I'm hesitant to do too much with the canter without further instruction because I tend to ride her too slow and short and I've never really had any instruction in it.

Thanks to the gorgeous pictures that Ellie took, I have been able to correct some rather glaring position flaws (not visible in this picture), so I'm riding it better, but I still don't know what to do.

And I guess I'm saying all this today because I have been able to coordinate absolutely zero lessons for Izzy and I this month. Nothing. Nada. The dressage trainer who owes me two lessons and lives 10 minutes away is "too busy" and the trainer we're going to be moving in with soon is of course, way busy moving down here anyways. Oh, and October is the month from hell for me anyways.

So... Izzy is enjoying some pretty easy weeks while I try to stay afloat. She's muddy, fat, and happy, and I keep reminding myself not to stress.

After all, boot camp for both of us starts in just less than three weeks.


  1. Simple solution: print out the first and second level dressage tests online. Even if you can't get the most current version, old ones work just as well. Work through the tests. Voila: new challenge.

  2. Seems like a good problem to have ;) I'm always impressed with you two.

  3. Lessons are great, but there is not a thing wrong with experimenting on your own. Too many riders get caught up in only doing things they have learned under a trainer, afraid to try new things.

    Be bold. Half pass will come from good leg yields. Walk pirouettes are good too, and lots of transitions from shoulder in to haunches in will help Izzy be more flexible. You can start thinking about some good counter canter work to improve her canter balance and start considering the canter/walk/canter transitions in 2nd level.

    Don't be afraid to experiment. It will keep both of you interested and engaged.

  4. Ditto on do a dressage test. Do a reining pattern - don't work too hard on the stops.
    What bootcamp??

  5. I agree with Eventer79. Work towards the stuff you will be working towards anyways. The reining patterns as Barbara mentioned- good for a change up as well.

    I'm at the same point with my pony and working in harness. The preliminary work and dressage movements are boring to him. He gets sluggish and lazy. But if I throw out cones and poles and stuff, tear around a bit... boy does he snap out of it.

  6. Jean--I honestly have no idea how to do a haunches in. I'm not even sure what it looks like. Bend around the leg closer to the rail with nose closer to the fence and hips in? I have no idea.

  7. Haunches is is exactly opposite to shoulder in. Think of going straight down the rail, but then shove the horse's hips in towards the center a bit and bent around your inside leg, to be very simplistic. Practical Horseman has done some great articles about it and its cousin, renvers, I'd try doing a search there. (Haunches in is travers)

  8. Haunches in is just like a shoulder-in, except with the hind end in off the track.

    Easy exercise to learn it:

    Start a shoulder-in along the long side.
    At about halfway, begin a ten meter circle.
    Circle all the way back to the rail, but don't finish the circle.
    Izzy's hind end will still be slightly off the rail at that point.
    Keep her hind end there and continue down the long side with her haunches inside the track.
    The bend is very slightly to the inside.
    That exercise used to be in the 3rd level test. I haven't looked at the new tests to see if it's still there, but it is a great suppling exercise.

    There's a good book called: "101 Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider" that has tons of neat exercises to do with super directions and diagrams. It could keep you both busy for quite a while.

  9. Take a short break, I say. Give we a short mental break as it sounds like you both are heading for some hard work soon!!

  10. I also agree with eventer 79. That's what I used to do with my horses.

  11. Jean and E79: Thank you!! We will try it next time I ride... Monday...

    Thanks for ideas, all.

  12. You have a really gorgeous horse. Seriously. And you two look like a great pair. I think you have gotten some excellent advice already. As someone who rarely gets a lesson, I try stuff that is outside our comfort zone and our "level" all the time. I personally love haunches-in and half-pass and have found them to be very beneficial movements.

    Thanks for following my blog!

    P.S. I was once scolded for riding with the sprinkler on in the ring. Just wondering about your name.

  13. Ok, you are seriously one of my role models for training your horse without any help. If your horse is happy and you are progressing you are doing it right:) Your pictures as of late have blown me away! Don't worry too much about challenging yourself in these next few weeks-you'll get plenty of that soon! You have a track right? Maybe get out there to work on her endurance and get more comfortable with a forward canter/hand gallop? You know her best:)

  14. I can see a real difference in your equitation. You look great in that canter shot. I'm jealous. Also to have achieved what you have, on your own, is very impressive. I can't seem to add polish on my own, but you have it covered.
    I was going to suggest the tests too, but others beat me to it. There are some great exercises when you break them down.
    I'm looking forward to reading about your boot camp. Tell us more!

  15. You guys look FABULOUS. Take it from the girl who's spent the last four months not reading any blogs - there's been some serious progress here!

    On a different note: is it too late to kick in for the gift you guys are putting together for Andrea? I just got caught up on all that's happened, and I'd like to contribute.


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