Trucking Along

Guys, real life is seriously cramping my blogging style!

Between work getting busy, side jobs getting busy, social commitments, and actually, you know, riding, I feel like I haven't had the chance to sit down and collect my thoughts about what Dino and I have been doing lately.

As a result, this might be a little rambly and disjointed. Bear with me, friends!

While I haven't had any big "ah-ha!" moments or major breakthroughs in my riding, I've been trucking along and working at the holes in our training that I'm aware of. My trainer has since traipsed off to Florida until spring, so I'm on my own for a while unless I can figure out a suitable stand-in trainer.

We had a fun and challenging ride the other week when Windows' mom put us through a serious grid consisting of 3 bounce fences, one stride to an oxer. Once you landed from the oxer, you had to ride around to jump through a one-stride line set across the grid in a "t" shape.

The grid itself was no problem, but making a square, balanced turn towards it? So tricky! Especially coming from the left lead, the way the grid was set didn't give one a whole lot of time or space to make the turn to the first element, and balance, impulsion, and the all-important outside aids were vital in making it to the grid successfully. Eventually I figured out that I needed a shorter, more put-together canter in order to be able to ask Dino to really sit on his haunches and make a square turn, and we had several successful runs after that! The grid also pointed out my tendency to forget about being accurate in my track when I made the turn to jump across the second one-stride element, and I had to really focus on bringing Dino around the turn and then making him straight to the combination. It was intensely challenging, but when I got it right, it was a great feeling!

"We require all your snuggles. Immediately."
On the flat, I've really been focusing on learning to rely more on my inside leg and body position for bend, stabilize and strengthen my outside rein connection, and wean myself off the inside rein. It's been touch-and-go as I fumble around trying to work out of my well-ingrained old habits, but Dino has been very patient with me! He's been GREAT to ride in the jump field, and slowly the left lead canter is coming along in terms of balance and self-carriage. As I try to make sense of getting my rein aids right, we've been working through some heaviness since Dino's most favorite thing is to find any and all loopholes in my riding and make me hold him up. We're getting there, slowly but surely. That's what the off-season is for!

Over the past week, I've ridden him once in western tack and it was actually super productive in terms of dressage. I don't ride him with spurs or a whip in my western saddle (no western spurs, and have you ever held split reins!?) so getting him tuned in to my forward aids is the main priority, and working on the slower western gaits really helps work his 'collection' muscles. We worked a ton on walk-lope transitions, which were VERY prompt, and jog-lope transitions, which Dino found quite difficult to do on a loose rein. Once I gave him some more support with the bit, he was able to step up into the lope without speeding off into a fast trot. It was really interesting for me to see how he needed my hands to catch and direct his energy into the lope!

"We'll wait."
We also did a short jump school the other night, which Dino really enjoyed! I worked on staying in my balanced, light, not-driving 3-point seat on the way to the fences, and Dino very happily hopped around everything I asked. He started to pull me to the jumps after a while, and it was very cool to feel him moving up to a good distance time and again without any input from me. Note to self: trust the pony! He knows what he's doing!

For the past two days, I've been picking away at our dressage in the back field, which has been a little difficult because of the recent rain making the footing pretty soggy, soft, and gross. Dino is such a good pony, though, and has been trying hard despite the less-than-optimal conditions. I'm starting to be able to just leave him alone more and more in the walk and trot, because he's carrying himself and on my outside rein! The canter is still a little heavy, and the trot-canter transition leaves a lot to be desired most of the time, but slowly, slowly, we're working on it.

In the meantime, my hallway just got a whole lot better-looking:

THIS is why you buy pro photos!


  1. Love the photos!! Sounds like your off-season is "off" to a good start :)

  2. So many great things going on, you guys will be even more rockstar like next season!

  3. so much fun riding going on - you make me miss it so badly!! glad dino is doing so well, and that you have fun people to ride with while your trainer is away (so sad)!! love the pics too :)

  4. Good progress all around. Hopefully your awesome pictures will inspire me to actually get frames!!

  5. Frustrating when life doesn't leave enough time for documenting life! Love the framed photos in your hall.

  6. Oh I love that frame where did you get it? Love what you are working on on the flat :) all your rides sound productive, it will all come together nicely and show off next season


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