Training Update for April

If you subscribe to my YouTube video or Google+ then you’ve probably already seen this, but I’d like to put down in writing where we’re still having problems and my thoughts on it.

April 20, 2014 Training Update:

The music stops at 1:48, so either mute the volume or wait it out.

Our half-passes suck! Definitely not enough bend, not enough forward, not enough collection. The swing just isn’t there. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to identify the HP we were doing as a HP (so if you don’t see one, then it’s the crappy riding and not your eye).

Our lengthens at least show a bit of lengthening now. It’s not much, but compared to the absolutely NO lengthening we were getting at this time last year… it’s much improved.  I think it’s an okay lengthen for a First level horse, but it’s not a good medium trot for a Second Level horse. We still need a lot of work on that. More uphill balance, more suspension in the stride, more oomphf from behind with more lift in her shoulders. We’re going to really get dinged for this in the tests if I don’t figure out how to fix it.

Our walk pirouettes (55 seconds into the video) were kind of sloppy, but I really liked how active she was behind. I think she had good bend in the pirouette, and the rhythm stayed pretty close to her regular walk rhythm (didn’t die out or lose energy). Every time I finish a walk pirouette I pat Ava and let the reins out, then I’m like, “Hey, let’s do another one right now… wait, not right here… here… nope, nope…. maybe more toward the center.” I seriously need to get more definite about what I’m doing and where.

My shoulder-in’s sucked. I fixed them on the next ride. I didn’t have her shoulders over enough, she wasn’t really on the outside rein, and the connection was bad. Which completely explains why the half-passes were so terrible, but for some reason during the ride I couldn’t figure it out. Isn’t that how it always goes?

I still, for the life of me, cannot ride a 10m circle. The horse is completely capable of it. If I’m yelled at for it then I can do a semi-nice one. For some reason I always misjudge how much I need to turn. I really have to wheel her around the inside leg as soon as I start the turn off the rail, but I don’t start thinking of it until I get to the quarter line and then it’s too late.

And the ‘down the center line’ at 3:21. We were all over the place. She keeps sneaking out the right side.  And she got crooked (butt was right). I need to practice those more. I never quite know how to fix it though. I want to practice them perfectly, but it’s always the same issue (she slides out the right). Even though I know she’s going to do it and I’m on guard for it, she still gets enough wiggle in to mess up the straight line. If I get too aggressive about keeping her from sliding right, then we go careening left. Straight lines are HARD!

Canter wasn’t that great. She was behind the leg. She broke at 4:07. I watched a video on how to keep the horse in front of the leg (called Keeping the Power), and the lady was saying to do a lengthen/medium canter every other letter then back to collected canter in order to teach the horse to stay hot off the leg. Also, she was saying that if you focused on keeping that same energy in the collected canter that you had in the medium then you’ll get a bigger jump up (more power).  I’m going to try that the next ride and see if I can get it to work on Ava. You’d have to have the horse really listening to the seat and straight, so it’s not really going to be as simple as the lady made it seem.

The canter/walk transition on the right lead is really getting rather nice. She’s still too much on the forehand. We did get one really nice one to the right. The left lead canter to walk is a hot mess.

We still have a lot of work to do before I feel comfortable calling her a Second Level horse. At this point, she should be able to do nice canter/walk transitions on both leads. We aren’t there yet, so she’s still basically a First Level horse with moments of Second level collection.

Sometimes this horse really frustrates me. She goes over and above on finding ways to avoid using her bum. I have to keep jumping between tricking her into using it or threatening her to use it. This has got to be the most uncoordinated, unbalanced, least naturally engaged horse I’ve ever ridden in my life. To be honest, every little bit of engagement we’ve got at this point has been an extremely hard fought battle to get.  I rode a friends horse a couple weeks ago and even when it was on the forehand it had more natural engagement then my horse has. Sometimes I worry that I’m asking too much of Ava… but she keeps trying, and honestly she seems to enjoy the challenge of dressage. She never quits trying… so I’ll stick with it until she says she’s had enough I guess.


I made a playlist for 2014 training videos called “Training Updates 2014”. It only has 3 videos in it, but I’m hoping to get one every month so I can see a progression over the year. It’s never as easy at it sounds though.


4 thoughts on “Training Update for April

  1. So, I just found your blog and love it. It’s always nice to see another dressage rider writing about the ups and downs of training. 🙂 You and Ava look fabulous, and I’m looking forward to following your updates!


  2. I saw the half passes and they weren’t as bad as you described! 🙂 What I really liked was how loose and swinging Ava looks through her back. I would kill to get that kind of relaxation from either of my boys. She’s so bouncy and lively. You might be working hard to get that, but it sure doesn’t look like it! :0)


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