Pony Switcheroo

Awkward canter shot.. but look how nicely he's holding himself up! 
Yesterday afternoon Windows' mom and I actually got to ride together! It's a rare thing that our schedules match up, so we planned to flat our horses together and then swap at the end of the ride.

I was, to be honest, equal parts nervous and excited. The best spot to ride in a group (and that has access to a mounting block for swapping steeds) is the jump field. We all know how Dino feels about the jump field! I didn't want to have to spend my entire ride arguing with him, and I didn't want his typically cranky attitude to give my friend a poor first impression of the WonerPony.

Knowing that I was likely to encounter some resistance, instead of dialing my aids up to 11 right away, I made a conscious effort to start quiet and simple. I was rewarded with a soft pony that responded to my forward aids. I did opt to head down to the dressage ring to do our warm-up canter work, which I think ended up being a good choice since it gave Dino and I the chance to get past any stickiness without worrying about the distraction of another horse or his distaste for the jump field. But after a nice hand-gallop back up to the top of the field, Dino was ready to rock & roll! Even in the jump field, with another horse, he gave me some SUPER work at all three gaits, including some very obedient trot lengthenings. We had one GLORIOUS uphill left lead canter depart, and I was feeling pretty good about the schooling session at that point! Dino even agreed to go BACK to work after several loose-rein walk breaks, which I thought was phenomenal.

Just dressaging along... maybe I should stop staring at his head...
After thoroughly schooling our own beasts, we switched horses. I got to ride Windows in his dressage saddle, which I'm pretty sure broke my hip flexors. My hips have not been that open in a very long time!

Things went MUCH more smoothly for me this time around after having poked around and found most of Windows' buttons the day before. My friend was also able to give me a bit of a mini-lesson on him, which was fantastic! Just like Dino, Windows really needs help in the hind-end-straightness department, and keeping his haunches in line made such a HUGE difference in the connection. It was cool to feel that on another horse, and Windows is so wonderfully honest to ride! Whenever I screwed something up, he never got upset, he just said, "Nope, not the right way! Try again, please!" What a good horse.

My big bad habit that really showed when riding Windows is my love of hanging on the inside rein and throwing away the outside rein. I carry my hands SO unevenly, and Dino has incredibly learned to work with me that way. I can ride my own pony round & connected... just on the wrong rein! Windows, who's been taught properly to connect into the OUTSIDE rein, was confused by my Crazy Hands until my friend pointed it out to me, and helped me take a strong feel on the outside and really push Windows into that outside rein with my inside leg.

What a huge difference it made in being able to ride Windows through and connected! I think I have a new goal for the off-season: get the Crazy Hands under control!

Yay trotting!
Dino was, blessedly, SO GOOD for my friend! He gave her only a little bit of pony'tude (just 2 bucks!) but settled right down to work once she corrected him and he realized that she would be firm and fair. She didn't notice any huge training holes that I didn't already know about, to my great relief! Her overall impression was that Dino still really doesn't 100% understand how to hold himself up and connect to the outside rein, which is pretty much where I thought we were at in our training at this point. She worked with him a lot on self-carriage in the canter, as well as prompt upward transitions and a bit of lateral work to get him off the inside leg. It was so cool to see him going so well for her, and reassuring to know that all of the 'ingredients' for a good dressage pony are in there, I just have to step up as a rider and be correct in what I ask of him, and how I ask.

I left the barn feeling so incredibly fortunate to have met such a great and knowledgable riding buddy, and to have the opportunity to learn from her and Windows!


  1. yay for Dino being a good boy with a new rider! Windows sounds super fun to ride too

  2. What a fun ride! I love having knowledgeable horse friends. :-)

  3. nothing wrong with a little bit of pony'tude!

  4. Windows sounds like a blast to ride! It's hard to ride a new horse after riding mainly your own for so long.


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