One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Moonwalking, Spinning In Circles...

Our thoughts concerning the current strugglebus situation...
The changes I've been seeing in Dino's dressage work this summer have been so interesting; especially the way his evasions are changing, as well as what his perception of "the right answer" is.

After nearly five years of partnership, we've finally, really, TRULY solidified the concept of "leg means go", and successfully added contact into that equation. So when things get a little more difficult, and Dino is asked to balance back on his haunches, sit a little more, and really work that butt, he's started using the Go Button as an evasion, which I find hilarious.

Me: Hey, dude. Can you sit on your butt a little more in this working trot here?

Dino: You are using your legs, so, that means MORE FASTER, YES?

Pony proceeds to race off into the sunset on the forehand

Me: I mean, yes, leg means go, but can we go in a better balance? And not so MUCH go?

Dino: We have spent five years discussing leg = go. You use leg. I go. You're happy with that, right?

Me: Yes? I mean no? I mean I'm happy you're GOING but that's not what we're working on here! Collection! Self-Carriage! Let's get with it, bro!

Dino: Ugh. That's hard. What about more faster? If I just go more faster will you stop bothering me?

Me: No.

We had that conversation the other day while working on leg yields, and after some SERIOUS half-halts (oh my abs) Dino slowed down, SAT down, and gave me some very lovely lateral work! I'm really excited to bring that balance to jumping, as we started practicing in our lesson last week.

Snazzy new XC boots! 
But that jumping thing.

Whoo boy.

After what was PROBABLY an over-emotional reaction to the way my ride went last night, having slept on it I can write about it now with more clarity and less desire to quit riding forever, start drinking heavily, and take up knitting.

The home jump field continues to bring out the worst in my pony. I got on with the intention of jumping a couple single fences as well as the grid my trainer had set up for my friends' lesson last week, and with the commitment to riding forward and not putting up with any shenanigans from Dino.

The trot portion of our warm-up was actually not horrible. He was behind my leg and was sneakily trying to slow down and stop without me noticing, but a few whacks with the Encouragement Stick solved that problem. I really committed to riding FORWARD downhill, and there was a lot less trippy-slipping than normal. Funny how that works.

I asked for the canter and Dino responded with an emphatic "NO".


So we had a bit of a fight about that, and never really got a quality canter going, but I pressed on in the hopes that jumping would perk him up a bit. I pointed him at a small vertical, and that little brat RAN OUT.

At that point I was starting to get really irritated at his nonsense, so I made it very clear upon re-approach that we were going OVER, and that was that. Dino was still just slugging along behind my leg and landing in a godawful heap, but he was at least jumping upon request.

So, that grid. It was a trot-in two stride --> one stride --> one stride set going up our (fairly steep) hill. I had watched my friends jump it many times last week, and was feeling confident that it was something we could easily accomplish.


"Just making sure to keep your ego in check." 
The first few tries resulted in Dino jamming an extra stride in between every fence, which was not surprising given his extreme level of Lazy that day. Once I built some of the fences up to oxers, he landed further in and started getting the striding down a bit better, but I was riding like soup sandwich and the whole thing was just awkward.

I didn't give up, and kept trying, coming into the grid with more gusto and trying to keep my leg on. The result was that Dino was now getting the correct strides, but I was still riding like I was waiting for the add and got seriously left behind, popping my poor pony in the mouth a bunch of times. I ended on a "good" round in which Dino went forward and got all the correct distances, but I was still flopping around up there almost falling off because I just couldn't figure out how to stay with him. It was seriously demoralizing.

In retrospect, I think a big part of the problem was that I was riding the uphill line like it was on flat ground, trying to use my seat in between fences instead of staying UP, and the increased effort of jumping AND cantering uphill caught me by surprise every time. I should have definitely, absolutely, just grabbed mane and stayed in half-seat instead of trying to ride like I ride grids on level ground.

Live and learn, I guess. It's just so frustrating to feel like every time I make forward progress in one area, something else suffers a setback!


  1. I just had to say two things: (1) First photo is EPIC awesome, LOL! (2) OMG, so much Solo, that little riding conversation sounds so familiar, haha. There's something masochistically irresistible about the ones who really make you earn it!

  2. lol i love that first pic too. and yea this is something we've been struggling with too.... somehow the simplest of grids can still manage to keep us humble... blah

  3. I feel you. So hard. My horse is all oh half halt? Walk right? Yeah you must mean walk. Why is there a jump in front of me? I'm walking!
    Riding is such a humbling sport, isn't it?! Love your struggle bus selfie!

  4. I don't have much to add to help, but I really like the term 'soup sandwich'.


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