Ask And Ye Shall Receive

During my daily phone call with Rachel the other day, we were chatting about how it's sometimes so hard to know whether you aren't getting the most out of your horse because they physically aren't up to what you're asking, or if you're not asking enough of them.

Especially with Dino's assorted metabolic diseases, I often toe the line between pushing for his best and letting him off easy because he might be muscle sore, or not have enough muscle somewhere, or be stiff, or have a bug in his eye, or...

You get the picture

But sometimes he's just being his deviously-lazy self and attempting to stay in his comfort zone, even though he's totally capable of more.

Case in point, Wednesday night's ride. It was, I think, the day after my conversation with Rachel, and I got ready to ride with a goal in mind: not letting my pony slack off. There was another horse lunging in the ring when we went in, so I started off with a little bit of groundwork. Jogging in-hand, backing up, turn on the forehand, and flexing to each side. A few minutes of groundwork often does a lot to get Dino "primed" and focused for riding, and thinking forward.

When I got on, I asked him IMMEDIATELY for a forward walk. None of this ambling-along-like-a-slug business. He had walked and trotted in-hand already, so I knew that he was fully capable of walking like he had some sort of purpose in his life. I really tried to continue the "we are not being lazy today" attitude throughout the ride, and it got me some AWESOME effort from Dino. Forward, listening, responding, woohoo!

After we warmed up on the buckle and had hand-galloped around a bit, I got ready to do some "real" dressage work. I started out riding some biiiig loopy circles at the posting trot, letting Dino stretch alll the way down, keeping him bent consistently using my leg position, and asking him to lift up his back by making room for him with a light seat and a tight core. It was pretty beautiful. I shortened up the reins, reminding myself to keep my hands LIGHT, and my pony shortened his frame and came round.

We then had some absolutely awesome trot work! Lots of collection, some beautiful square turns, haunches-in, shoulder-in, and even a little baby trot halfpass going left. We did a little bit of canter work, too, and achieved some nice soft transitions, and I was able to ask for them mostly with my seat.

But the thing that made this ride great was that I asked for, and expected, Dino's best efforts. I went into it with the attitude that I wasn't going to settle for laziness, and I didn't.

And with that... here in PA we go into another weekend of crappy weather and no riding. Wonderful.


  1. I sympathize with the weather, although I figure it will be worse up where you are :-/


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