Slow It Down

my family of midgets
One of the few good things about winter is that it forces those of us without indoor arenas to go back to the most basic of basics. To slow down, to dissect, to think.

Last night the footing was a sorry frozen mess (thank you humid weather followed immediately by sub-freezing temps!) so the only work possible for us was some walk and slow trot. I really wanted to use the hard ground as an excuse to get out for a hack, but I just couldn't get it together before sunset.

I focused on feeling out our collective straightness - which, let me tell you, is not as straight as it could be! Each time I asked for bend, or a turn, or a shoulder-in, or leg yield, I tried to take inventory of HOW I was asking with my body. Inside hip forward? Inside shoulder back? Even, breathing contact in the reins with my outside hand allowing Dino to come around, and my inside hand softening his neck and jaw? Legs asking without nagging? Seat light and allowing the pony's back to come up?

When all the pieces of my body were put together, Dino usually responded pretty well, and I was able to get after him with my whip when he got a little resistant because I knew I was asking him clearly for what I wanted.

After about half an hour or so of intense walk work, I had figured out some of the little details I want to try and improve this winter:

-Responsiveness off of my right leg. Tracking left, Dino moves very nicely off of my leg and seat. To the right, sometimes he acts like he does not know what inside leg means. I found that sometimes this is because of my upper body position (I'm counter-bent!), but sometimes he's just ignoring me and needs a little reminder with the whip or spur to MOVE OVER! Perhaps we will use some groundwork to fine-tune this cue.
-Get MYSELF consistent in the contact and straight in my upper body. I can't expect my pony to be straight and consistent if I am not!

Hopefully I'll be able to ride a bit more this winter than I did last year, and this will be the start of some more great improvements for us.


  1. It's so great for me to read through your reasoning especially since right now I'm not taking regular lessons. This gives me a great idea of what to work on over the next month or so.

    1. So glad you are getting something out of my ramblings! Blogging in general really helps me to stay on track with what we're working on in between lessons... so keep reading and keep writing! :)

  2. kudos for drilling into a super productive ride at the walk!! i'm so quick to throw in the towel when the circumstances are iffy and just not bother.... but as you say, there's SO MUCH that can be done at the walk. the straightness thing in my own position is definitely hindering some of our work right now - so reading this was helpful too. in any case, hopefully it warms up a bit!!


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