Joy the Wonder Pony

Rode Joy last night. I had low expectations.  Mainly because I currently don’t have any goals for her…  other than I’d like to canter around in some semblance of balance and with the the correct bend.  

We’re headed into winter where riding will probably cease from December to March.  Next spring I’ll freak about how we’re no where near ready for even Training Level… STILL

I found if I shorten my reins to the point where I feel like there’s 2 inches left, then Joy feels more connected in the bridle. As if too much slack leaves too much room to squiggle and question. 

We’ll see how this works long term.  Doesn’t appear to be hurting anything, yet. I still can’t get a true connection from hind legs to bit yet.  I feel like i’m getting really close at times,  and other times we’re no where near it.  I think I’ll need professional help to achieve it.  Hopefully I won’t have ruined her too badly by then. 

I’ve been working on developing left hind strength.  A big Thank You to Alli Farkas for the suggestion.  It seems to be working!! I have some research on exercise that I’ll post later. 

Another thing I found that helped was if I do trot work on the box and kick her hind end over when going to the left that she is better able to pick up the canter relatively straight.  I have to do shoulders going to the right.  The haunches continually shift way left when going left.  The shoulders pop left when going right. If I don’t kick her butt over going left,  then she gets in her own way and bucks. 

Every issue I have right now is straightness related. Some rides I never get even slightly straight.  Some rides I do.  When she’s straight and pushing from behind I get a wonderfully soft,  balanced canter in either direction.  It feels awesome. It feels like a big horse canter.  It feels very uphill and adjustable. When she’s not straight … It’s an utter wreck.

We’re usually not straight.  😂 

I have no idea how the canter actually looks when she’s balanced.  I can’t seem to pull it off when I video myself. I’m just going to keep pretending we look like Charlotte and Valegro cantering around being magnificant. 😉 

This little pony is a try-er though.  She might get frustrated,  but she doesn’t quit on you.  She keeps trying.  She doesn’t blow up,  she doesn’t refuse, she just expresses her confusion and if you break it back down then she’ll try again.

I love that about her!

Free Videos on Straightness and Collection from USEF Network

USEF Network has free videos with Dr. Deb Bennett from Equine Studies Institute.

PDF on Lessons From Woody: On Teaching Your Hose To Carry Himself Straight by Deb Bennett, Ph.D


Lessons from Woody, Part I Physical Straightening by Deb Bennett, Ph.D

Lessons from Woody, Part II Deep Straightening by Deb Bennett, Ph.D

True Collection: Loin Coiling and Raising the Base of the Neck by Deb Bennett, Ph.D

Riding — Without Style

I am in that awkward stage where I know a big Aha moment will hit eventually (hopefully soon), but right now I really suck. Here is how my rides have gone lately:

Me: Alright Ava, maybe you could stop making it feel like I’m falling into a hole on the ride side of your body?

Ava: Uhmmm, No.

Me: Fine, lets try leg yielding left to get you on your left shoulder more. (do some leg yields)

Ava: Bring it lady, I can do this all day long.

Me: This is not helping… Ok, lets try haunches-in left.

Ava: Ugh, really. Here’s the slowest haunches-in I can do.

Me: No, go forward while in haunches-in.

Ava: HA. Screw you lady.

Me: thinking “I can fix this. I can fix this”.

Ava: OMG, there is light coming from under the door crack. Spook. 

Me: I’m still here horse.

Ava: Crap…


I’m so frustrated with how my rides have gone that I’m starting to think that any other horse discipline might be a better fit for us. Nothing I try helps for more than a second. Half of me is convinced I’m doing it wrong, the other half thinks my horse is pulling my chain (which she has done before). When all of the clinicians you’ve gone to tell you your horse is capable of going Fourth/PSG and your horse is sitting there telling you that First level sounds like a fine level to stay at…. It creates some discordant rides. Add in the fact that I’ve never gone beyond where I am currently at. In fact, right now I have surpassed all previous training I’ve ever had.  I don’t know what I’m doing, where I’m going, or how to get there.

I hate that feeling!

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I have a lesson this coming Friday (it’s been 5 weeks since my last lesson). My only hope at this point is that when we get to the lesson the trainer doesn’t think I’ve completely ruined the horse. I’m just hoping it’s all fixable still. I’ve given up the hope that we’ve made progress and have lowered my hopes to “Please don’t let me ruin my horse”.


My mare is a saint to put up with me as well as she does.  I really lucked out finding such a gem.