Dressage Tidbits, Strategy, and Getting Ready For A HT

Hi mom you are in the food room can I have some food?
Our HT on the 9th seems like it's coming up REALLY fast! And with a bunch of craziness going on in my job, I feel like I haven't had a chance to really focus and make a plan for this show. Hopefully we'll be ready and on track to put forth a good performance next weekend!

Last week my barnmates and I had a group flat ride planned. While I love riding with them, I was a little apprehensive about trying to get a productive ride in while also trying to manage Dino's arena baggage/attitude/snarkiness/general grumpy old man-ness.

So I tried something different.

The other girls were riding up top in the jump field, so I took my pony down to the bottom of the hill to the dressage court. My hope was that being away from the other horses would help Dino focus on me and allow me to install the Go Button and have a productive flatwork ride. After our craptastic dressage show, I really wanted to get back on track.

And it worked!

I was able to get Dino forward and bending, doing actual flatwork, without having to beat him into a western jog.

SURE my friends were about 1,000 yards away from me... but my pony was working well.

I love you guys, I swear, but Dino's got baggage. Sorry for having to be antisocial.

After doing some transitions and circles at all three gaits, I was pretty confident that Dino was focused and solidly in Work Mode, so I hand galloped the dude back up the hill to join everyone else in the jump field. To my surprise, he retained his focus and work ethic and we had a great ride with our friends! We practiced canter departs and started working on trot lengthenings, but I was the most excited about being able to ride with my friends without having to fight with my pony.

Confo shot! I'll never get rid of that hay belly... sigh. 
Sunday was a glorious day involving me sleeping in until 8am, (magical!) drinking coffee on the deck with my hubby, and riding my pony on a beautiful morning. I had all the time in the world to putz around the barn before and after riding, and it was pretty wonderful.

Dino and I had a pretty hardcore dressage school in our favorite field. I was actually not very optimistic in the beginning of the ride. EuroPony was stiff and heavy in my hand, and nothing I did seemed to get him to soften and start working over his back. So I tried to be patient and just kept doing the things that I knew worked for him: lots of circles, alternating between a stretchy and working frame, and dropping the contact and kicking him forward when he got heavy and braced.

It took a while, and definitely took longer to get him soft, bending, and round to the right, but eventually my patience paid off and Dino transformed into a little dressage superstar. Dino was suddenly very rideable and easy to keep together, and I was getting some super prompt canter departs off my seat. Instead of riding with my hands away from his neck to encourage bend and contact, I was able to just leave them in front of me, right next to each other, like I was riding a broke dressage horse or something. I used my seat to steer, and do transitions, and it was very exciting!

This pony is so good when he's good, it definitely helps me get through his bad moments.

I was able to work him in Super Dressage Pony Mode for a little while, and then he fell apart a bit going to the right, so I spent some time getting him back together before we ended the ride. Afterwards, I dropped the reins and let Dino take us on a little walk through the woods and the tree farm before heading back to the barn. I've been trying to let him decide what we do once we're done working hard, and I think it's definitely helped his attitude!

Homeboy had the day off while I was at the DOC clinic, and then I hauled my exhausted butt out of bed early on Wednesday morning for a gallop with my barn buddy. Dino was SUPER - I did all the trot work on a loose rein with one hand. He didn't pull at the canter, and only really kicked into Aggressive Race Pony Mode when my friend passed us on her horse at a gallop. He was a BIT confused when we asked him to lead the charge, and came down to a walk and asked me what the heck was going on, but overall it was a good, if quick, morning of trot & canter sets.

In the remaining days before Sunday's HT, we'll do a jump school, a dressage school, and a chill trail ride. Then we'll head out for our second attempt at BN!

So majestikal.


  1. Dino IS so majestikal. I adore those lazy mornings at the barn when you've got nothing but time :)

  2. YAY! So excited for you guys. It sounds like you're really figuring out what works best for you dude with baggage:)

  3. Can't wait to hear about the BN! Sounds like you are very prepared :)

  4. I want to ride on a tree farm.

    Btw pat yourself on the back for those rides--it is so hard to figure out what your horse needs every day and roll with it, but you seem to be getting him dialed in.

    1. It's very fun, you should try it!

      And thank you - I'd be lying if I said I didn't still get very frustrated from time to time, but I think the pieces are coming together.

  5. super excited for your upcoming ht!!! seems like you've really been adding to your bag of tricks lately for tactics to keep him working well and happily when maybe he wouldn't otherwise be inclined. very cool!!

  6. Whatever works! I bet y'all will kill it this weekend :)

  7. Such majesty. Much wow. Sometimes it takes Pig 20-30 minutes to work out all the kinks and act like a trained horse. Then we usually only have 10 min to get any good work in before he gets tired and falls apart. Your pain. I share it. Hi there pain buddy.


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