Wake up, Sully! You have work to do! 
One thing that I consistently have issues with on both Dino and Sully is going to the left. Getting the left bend on Dino (as well as leg yield right) and the left lead canter on Sully are hard, hard, hard!

I know this is all at least in part due to my own bodily misalignment, but Sully's mom has been having issues with the left lead canter too, plus there's Dino's weird muscle unevenness in his back, so I know it's not ALL me.



Last night I had both pony boys to ride, and I hopped on Sir Sullivan first. The two main items I've been working with him on are that pesky left lead canter and his propensity to totally quit in the downward transitions. After picking Austen's brain for ideas, I decided to start with getting a good bend going in both directions at the walk. To the left, Sully tends to lock the top of his neck and set his jaw against my hand, blocking the bend through the rest of his body. I focused on getting him to flex left at the poll and tip his nose almost too much to the inside, opening the whole left side of my body to encourage a more exaggerated left bend than I really wanted. Thinking "Open" with my left side instead of "Push" did awesome things for me, and let me allow the bend vs. creating more resistance.

Austen had also suggested to think about collecting as much as possible before allowing the downward transition - the hind legs must be active for the horse to keep going once the transition happens. For Sully at this point in his training, it's not so much "collect" as it is "Hey, maybe think about putting a little more weight on your hind end and maybe don't drag yourself around on your face so much." I was playing around with my aids a little bit to try and find what helped the concept click with Sully, and at some point found myself riding with a much more open thigh than normal, sort of squeezing his back up into my seat with my lower legs while keeping a firm hold on the reins. This seemed to do it, and created a lot more "push" in Sully than he normally has. Combined with really focusing on riding him up and forward into the downward transitions, we had a few really nice ones from trot to walk. The canter was more difficult, as it's definitely his weakest gait right now, but I was at least getting the left lead consistently after all the work we did on bending in the beginning of the ride. I'm also finding myself more and more comfortable in his dressage saddle. Initially, I felt the placement of the blocks wasn't working for me at all, but after a few weeks of riding in it my leg is starting to get a bit longer and my hips are opening more, letting me sit much more comfortably.

After getting some good work from poor Sullivan Who Thinks Dressage Is Very Hard, I hopped on the Wonder Pony. Riding him second was definitely a mistake.

Note to Self: Always ride your own pony first. If you don't, you'll feel like you're riding a tiny, narrow little toy horse and will have so many balance problems.

Dino felt ridiculously small and narrow to me after riding Sully immediately before. I had also put on a regular pad instead of his shim pad, since the saddle is starting to look a bit higher on the left with the shims, but I think we may just need fewer shims rather than no shims at all. I felt unbalanced in so, so many ways, and it occurred to me now why my best friend exclaimed, "HOW DO YOU EVEN RIDE THIS THING!?" the first time she got on Dino after hopping off of her own wide-shouldered thoroughbred.

I had set some jumps up in the field with the idea of having an easy, low-key jump school, including a BN-ish sized oxer. I figured, if I got to the oxer, great. If the canter didn't come together well enough for me to be confident about it, I would skip it and no one would die.

It was a good thing I didn't put any pressure on us for this ride, because I had a hell of a time just trying to figure out how to walk, trot, and canter my pony around in some sort of balance, and all of the tiny jumps looked MASSIVE now that I had gone from a 16hh, x-wide hippo to my dainty little EuroPony. I spent most of my time floundering around on my own pony, trying to get comfortable and attempting to find some sort of center of balance, which was made more difficult by the uneven terrain in our 'arena'. Dino also felt a bit tired overall, and I never quite got him in front of my leg or into any kind of good canter with impulsion.

Trot fences it was, then!

Still pretty darn cute even if he is bad.
I started off trotting a little 18" skinny, and Dino was on the job. He perked up and found a nice spot to the jump, popping over and cantering happily away. I added in a "big" crossrail with the ends nearly to the top of the standards, as well as a couple 2'3" ish verticals. Dino only questioned my directions a couple times when we made a bit of a funny turn to one of the verticals, but I closed my leg and he hopped right over without hesitation, and as long as he was landing balanced and mostly in front of my leg, I came at the other vertical from a canter a few times and totally nailed it. I never had a canter I felt was appropriate to take to the oxer without setting us up for failure, so I let it be for the day.  It was nice to have Dino jumping without question, especially on a day when I felt I wasn't riding my best. It further convinces me that his issues at shows are more pony'tude than anything!

Hopefully today will find me feeling more at home on my mighty, mini steed.



  1. I agree, sometimes you have to ride them in the right order. If I go from the big fancy warmblood to my little Saddlebred it almost feels like she's lame, just in how different her movement is.

  2. The right lead is the bane of my existence right now so I feel your pain.

  3. Nice work! I also like using a spiral in and leg yield out on a 20 metre circle to get the bend and then, as you hit the 20 m circle line you ask for a canter transition and it's right there.

  4. Yes going narrow is a much harder transition!

  5. I've just about toppled right off Isabel after switching from something with less delicate power steering - definitely get it!!


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