High Summer

Looking Very Fancy
I guess we are officially in the thick of summer, as this past weekend was the Fourth of July already!

Lately, Dino and I have been doing a bit more dressage and jumping and a bit less trail riding than he would like, but I'm a little bit of a chicken when it comes to riding off property when no one's around at the farm to help or send a search party should things go sideways.

Our flatwork is really starting to come together at home! Dino is starting to be very consistently round, and the moments of self-carriage and throughness are increasing with every ride. Granted he does inevitably at some point throw his head up, invert himself, and say, "NO!! THIS IS HARD! I DON'T WANNA USE MY BUTT ANYMORE!!" but I'm learning to react in a better way when he does that. Instead of shutting him down with my hands, I've been trying to just put my leg on emphatically, put him on a circle, and calmly coax his head and neck out of the stratosphere. It's taking less and less time for Dino to give up on his tantrum and go back to Work Mode. I'm pretty pleased with how we're progressing at this point!

He was really on it the other evening during a flatwork session, and I was able to easily ride shoulder-in, haunches in, and some smaller canter circles. Everything is so much smoother when Dino is tuned in to me, in front of the leg, and really trying!

I've jumped him twice since the horse trial last weekend, and that's been going pretty well, too. I set up some raised trot poles as well as a handful of small (think 2'3" or lower) single verticals to work over. While Dino completely clobbered the poles the first time through, after that he really started lifting his feet and back over them and we had some very nice passes over the poles. I focused on riding FORWARD and concentrating on the canter rhythm over the single fences, and every one was essentially perfect, so that ride was pretty short and sweet!

On Sunday afternoon after giving the trailer a good scrubdown, Michael and I worked on mowing the jump field and setting a new grid. I recently got my hands on Jimmy Wofford's gymnastics book, and picked out a challenging setup. I think Niamh has blogged about this one before, but I was having trouble finding the post!

Can you tell which side we cleaned first?

Essentially, the grid consists of a one-stride vertical-to-oxer, and then branches out in three different directions. You can either ride straight to another oxer in four strides, bend left to a vertical in two strides, or bend right to a vertical in three strides. There are really ENDLESS options once you get each of the three paths down pat, so I think I'm going to keep this one up for a while!

Dino, unfortunately, was not in the game when it came to riding through the grid for the first time. I built it up piece-by-piece for him, but his mind was anywhere but on the task at hand. He was watching his donkeys, he was looking at Michael, he was spacing out and just not with it. It's pretty normal for Dino to start off a little sluggish when riding in the jump field, but not even the introduction of the grid could get him excited that night. Eventually he did start to focus and work with me, and we mastered the one-stride and two-stride left turn. It was a tough exercise, but I can definitely see that once we really get good at this grid, our skills will have improved tenfold.

This week will hopefully involve some nice hacks out, as well as a lesson. So far it's been a great summer of riding!


  1. It all sounds great! I set up a similar gymnastic not long ago- it was vastly helpful!

  2. I just love that pic of Dino!

  3. ooh i've done that grid before too - it's such an awesome exercise with so many options! Dino sounds like he's just doing so well :D

  4. That grid sounds fun, but so much work to set.

  5. You guys are so color coordinated, it's awesome! That grid sounds super fun :)


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