Tuesday Lesson

Latest update. Our lesson On Tuesday went well. I rode in the outdoor arena, and Ava hates it out there. I’m guessing on this, but I think it’s because the horses in the pastures look like disembodied heads from inside the outdoor arena. Who knows? She hates it. So to add an element of challenge… one of the horses was flying around it’s paddock like a banshee on fire. This is exactly the point where I’m supposed to work on canter zigzags. Haha. I can’t say those were very successful. I felt like I was riding a thousand pounds of GO! Full steam ahead and all luggage better hold on for dear life!

Okay, it wasn’t THAT bad. But the brakes weren’t good, and the half halts had zero effect.

Here’s the gist of the lesson….


It’s really difficult to not brace when you constantly feel like you’re being bounced out of the saddle. I flop worse than a two legged toad.

It’s human nature to tighten up and grip, I realize that, but loosening my death grip loosened Ava right up.

What I’d like to know is how do I fall into these totally moronic ways of riding. Things I KNOW don’t work, cause problems, etc. yet I inevitably get stuck in one until Bern can come smack me upside the head (gotta jar me loose sometimes).

Oh well, for now, at least, we’re back on the right track. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Stay loose!

And try to stay cool.

First Level Test 3

Here is what a First Level Test 3 test should look like:

2011 USEF First Level Test 3 with Scores

Here is what my First Level Test 3 test looked like:

My First Level Test 3 with Scores

General Information:
Relaxing the Horse: http://youtu.be/Mf-OLvpdfd8
Exercises that progress toward first level balance and acceptance: http://youtu.be/mlYfnztt3Rs
Article on connection: http://www.usdf.org/EduDocs/Training/FirstLevelLesson_2006_Feb.pdf

Leg Yielding Information:
Leg yield video with scores and directives: http://youtu.be/b3ZYNzTcGiM
Leg yielding with Jan Brink: http://youtu.be/sXEh96FR9xM

Stretchy Trot Information:
Stretchy Trot video with scores and directives: http://youtu.be/FLBPFl4JAsY
Stretchy trot, aids and purpose: http://youtu.be/0_4ms6sDn8w
Using proper rhythm to improve the stretching of the frame: http://youtu.be/MkrSzsSor20

Canter Lengthening Information:
Canter Lengthening with Directives and Scores: http://youtu.be/R7dd_bY-haY

Trot Lengthening Information:
Trot Lengthening with Directives and Scores: http://youtu.be/HgHlxR5Sb4U

Barn Move & What to Do?

I’ve been considering moving Ava, again. I enjoy the fact that my current barn is so close and the other boarders are friendly, supportive people, but there are drawbacks to where I’m boarding at. My problem is that there aren’t that many barns close to me that will allow my trainer to come in to give lessons. Which, as a business person, I find…. odd. I get that trainers don’t want competition on their home turf, but that means some barns are completely inaccessible to me since I’m not willing to trailer my horse every week 45 minutes away.

The point is… I need to find a new barn. There is one about 20 minutes north of my house, but the indoor is TINY. A cute little postage stamp of an arena. Very nicely cared for, but it’d be five steps, turn, two steps turn, five steps turn…. We’re getting to the point in our training where we need a bit more space to be able to help Ava. I’ve learned some really good exercises that would be fantastic to use on Ava… like the one Roz was having us do in the clinic where you do a ten meter circle, shoulder-in, half-pass to the quarter line, then shoulder-in down the quarter line. I have to have a bit of space in the arena so *I* don’t freak and start snatching reins and getting tense. Okay, fine. So really the issue is me. :p haha

There’s a new barn going up in my little village, but they don’t currently have anything. Supposedly they’ll have an indoor built by August, and then hopefully by winter they’ll have stalls. (Doesn’t that seem a bit backwards to you?) I’m leery about it since no one I’ve talked to knows the owners, and there’s no history on them to help me know whether my horse would be well taken care of, or not. That and it’s advertised on Craig’s List. I’ve never had good luck with anything on Craigs List.

I’m debating taking Ava back to my trainers barn. The downside is that it’s a good 40 minute drive from my house. My work is even farther south (by 20 minutes). I’ll have to work out the mileage and drive time soon to figure out how feasible this will be. There are numerous times that I have to work late, and I only have so much will-power to force myself to go ride after a long, exhausting day. I’m not sure I could convince myself to go ride if I know it’s an hour drive just to get to the barn.

But on the plus side, my trainer is there! And that’s a HUGE bonus. That opens up a lot of possibilities for me that I won’t have by boarding anywhere else. And I know the owners. They take excellent care of the horses. The indoor is huge with good footing, and the outdoor is wonderful to ride in (also very huge).

One of the big reasons I moved from my trainers barn was because I was scared to ride Ava without someone standing near the ring (so when I fell off they could call 911). So every time I wanted to ride, I either had to take my husband (who is the epitome of grump master), or coordinate with another boarder to ensure someone else would be in the ring with me. Which was downright obnoxious, so if you combined that with a 40 minute drive, it just sucked. But I’m not scared of Ava anymore, and I’m perfectly fine riding by myself now (without needing someone standing there holding my hand).

Plus, I’d get to ride with the Mary’s again! I love those women! ๐Ÿ™‚


I thought if I looked up the riders selected for the clinic, that I’d feel better about not being selected. Some of them are obviously much better riders (half are PSG Level or above). I knew half of the riders selected would be professional trainers. That’s been the mix for the previous clinics in this series. I knew the horse’s would be to die for, and the videos of the one’s I could find prove this. I knew my chances were slim to none to start with…. So why am I so heart broken by this?

I kind of just want to give up. I mean, if my best is still not good enough, then why am I exhausting myself every day? 14 hours of non-stop GO. I have a high stress, manic paced job anyway, but i have to be the over achiever and also be รผber dedicated to dressage. Oh, and let’s fit in exercise time too! Dumbass. Why am I exhausting myself for something that doesn’t return on investment?

I guess what irritates me is that I feel like I’ve come such a long way. That I’ve improved tremendously, and yet I have nothing to show for it. No titles, no scores on Centerlinescores.com, no certificates, nada. Eight years ago I broke my back and was homeless, two years ago I climbed on my first horse in 20 years. Today? I still can’t afford to go to rated shows, I’m passed over for clinics specifically promoted for the Adult Amateur, and I’m exhausted.

I’m feeling a little defeated by life today…

Last Update on Lilo Fore Clinic

Selected Riders:

Heather Soones-Booher – Bordeaux (Oldenburg)
Centerlinescores for Bordeaux: http://www.centerlinescores.com/Horse/Details/1089663#filterBy=tests
Heather has shown through Fourth Level.

Liz Ritz – Natasha B (Friesian)
Centerlinescores for Liz Ritz: http://www.centerlinescores.com/Rider/Details/24565
Liz has shown Prix St. Georges.

Deanna Hertrich – True Colors (PHR)
Third Level rider.
Deanna rode with Lilo Fore back in February 2012 at another clinic.

Emily Dutton Craig – Audi (KWPN)
Blog/video: http://emilyduttoncraig.blogspot.com/2012_06_01_archive.html
Emily is a trainer and has shown through Prix St. Georges.

Autumn Harvey – Hamilton (Trakehner)
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nJAttsyAOA
Second Level rider. Believe she’s an adult amateur.

Suzy Coleman – Brazen Beauty (Hanoverian)
Third Level rider.

Betsy Juliano – Big Tyme (BWP)
Video of Big Tyme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW5WuJs7o9I
Article about the pair: http://chronofhorse.com/article/betsy-juliano-will-ride-big-tyme

Chloe Fullar – Fruhlich (Danish)
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCTTRLh36gI

Counter Canter, Again

Today I spent some time on the counter canter again. Here’s a list of everything I’ve tried so far:

Walking Ava on the pattern and moving her hips away from the wall to turn her shoulders toward it. This took several tries before she understood what I was getting at. We then cantered it and completely bombed it. Hips were NoT going to move at all. I went back to the walk, repeated it several times. Back to canter with marginal improvement.

I then decided that X to the wall was too steep an angle, so we tried straight down the quarter line then to the wall. Again, no success. I decreased the angle again by getting closer to the wall. No success.

I then determined it was my weight placement that was screwing Ava up. So I took my stirrups off to force me to sit correctly. Things improved, but Ava still flipped leads in front.

I tried cantering down the quarter line, walking and then turning her toward the wall before cantering toward the wall. She flipped the front lead again.

Etc., etc…

So today, due to arena constraints, we were on a 20 meter circle and I figured screw it… We’re just going to pick up counter canter for a couple strides, walk, counter canter, etc until she will at least do two strides without throwing a hissy fit. And you know what? She did it! I patted her up really good, made a big deal out of her being good, and let her walk on a loose rein for a bit. After a short break I asked her to counter canter a couple of strides around the corner and she did it! I gave her a ton of praise and a walk break.

This issue is only when going to the right. I’m not having any problems to the left.

Second Show!

Our second show is June 9th. I am already a ball of nerves. We will be doing First level. I signed up for all three tests, but figured I’d play it by ear on how much energy Ava has.

My big fear is Test 3, where the counter canter is introduced. It’s a shallow serpentine figure from the wall, to X, and back to the wall. I’ve ridden counter canter before (in the long ago time). I’ve also made Bern explain the aids, dynamics, and concepts at LEAST 20 times now (that lady is a saint!). I STILL can’t get a counter canter (even briefly) when going to the right. I am beyond frustrated!

On a good note: Ava is now loading like a champ again. I also clipped all four legs and she acted like an old pro at it. This is in comparison to the crazed horse I tried to clip in April. And her trot/canter transitions are awesome.