Escalating Issues & Popped Shoulders

I’ve had some time to think about the ride I had on Monday, and how poorly it went. These issues have been escalating the past few rides. Monday was the worst, and I felt rather defeated and unsettled by the ride.

Joy is hollow on the right, stiff on the left.  Up until lately I could bend her to the right without her popping her shoulder out too much. I felt I had control of her outside. However, the past few rides, that shoulder pop’s left bad. No matter how hard I kick with the left leg she ignores it, half-halting the outside doesn’t help, and dragging her right doesn’t help (heh).

Here’s the video from the 2nd (Monday):

You can see the overly bent neck and popped shoulder in the video (above) at 43 and 53 seconds (etc).

Here’s the video from the 5th (Thursday). This is with a whip to back up the left leg aid:

I’ve also been working on my position more, although it’s not going so well. My arms have developed a life of their own. I’m riding around pleasantly when all of a sudden I realize my hands are in my face. How did they get there?!  It’s embarrassing!

Feel free to chime in with what you see (I’m a little hesitant to say that because I know it looks horrible, but give it to me straight!).


In other news:

Joy saw her first deer this week under saddle. I know she’s seen them in the pasture numerous times (the deer like to cut through my pasture), but I’ve noticed that for some reason if a horse is under saddle then wild animals are FEARSOME CREATURES that are intent on killing all horses. Joy did pretty well with it. The first one we saw was standing about 15 feet from us, Joy and I were alone, and I was praying it wouldn’t move as we passed it. It didn’t. The second and third time they were much further away and we were with another horse, so it wasn’t as scary. The third time (alone again) we only heard the deer crashing through the woods, and although Joy got a bit snorty and prancy at first, she stayed level headed about it and settled down quickly (Win!).

We also had our first car pass us (not close). Joy shot forward like the hounds of hades were on her tail. I ran her up the butt of the gelding that was with us.  Who doesn’t love a stoic, wise gelding? Best horse to have with us that day.  Joy regained her composure a bit after realizing the steady eddy wasn’t scared, but she still jumped and shook horribly when the second car passed us. I was very happy that she improved with the second car. I don’t think it’ll take her much time to realize the cars aren’t scary.

The other thing I was proud of Joy for… I was riding up to the neighbors barn, her horses were in the pasture which borders the path I take to her barn. Her horses come up to the fence and start to follow us. Then they get a mad hair up their butts and they just take off! Madly galloping around, bucking, farting, the works. Joy immediately wants to bolt off too. After an initial “Eeeeekkkk! I’m going to die!” I got Joy back and we did bendy lines at a walk all the way to the neighbors barn. She actually came back really quickly. I mean, she was still a wound up ball of tension, but she listened! And once we got to their barn she just stood there calmly while I chatted with the neighbor. Yay!!

Thursday, Joy and took our first solo ride around the back field. It has some pretty scary things going on back there. There’s a house and a pole barn being built in two different areas, and lots of weird things to hear and see (hammering, saws, flappy things, tractors, and weird soil to walk over). Joy was tense, but she kept her composure. That was the furthest we’ve gone without having another horse with us, and overall I thought it was a big success. It wasn’t calm, but she was well behaved and listening.

We’re going to be curtailed in our trail riding soon (hunting season), so I’m trying to get in as much as I can before the 15th.

Under Saddle Training Update

I’ve now had Joy for two months. Since I am dang near a pro level dressage trainer, I’d like to share a video of Joy’s upper level work. We’ll be debuting at Grand Prix in July.

Ok. More like a video showing me bumble around while I struggle to steer and the ‘Go’ buttons are a bit sticky.

Cue video!

It’s down there some where. Keep scrolling.

Joy’s progressing fairly well. She’s starting to figure out leg, rein, seat aids (in a general, they exist kind of way). We’ve been working on leg yielding the past week so that I can start to build on ideas like bend, outside aids, and stepping under the body. She’s darn good (for a greenie) moving to the left, and it’s like pulling teeth to the right. She likes to toss her haunches left naturally, so crossing and stepping underneath herself to the right with the left hind leg is probably moving her in ways she’s not used to moving.

I’ve also started turn on the forehand. I was going to wait a little longer to introduce this, but I was listening to a podcast that talked about the benefits of the movement for young horses. And because Joy swings her hips left all the time, I thought it might be helpful to try to teach her how to move them around as early as possible. Plus, the crossing of the legs helps her loosen up her hips. We just finally were able to get a few steps in both directions this past week.

She seems to get locked into only my right leg. So after a turn on the forehand I put both legs on and she just keeps turning, and turning…

One thing I’ve noticed.. when you’re horse is this small, you really have to keep your balance right in the middle.  I kind of feel like Joy’s size is an advantage for dressage training since the idea of following my seat is kind of mandatory or she’ll fall over. Hahaha

I finally measured Joy last weekend. I had a disagreement with a friend about Joy’s height. I thought she was 14.2ish. Friend thought she was 13.3ish. I was invested in Joy being 14.2, because anything smaller could only mean I have midget legs.

Friend was right… She’s between 13.3 and 14 hands (I don’t have the most accurate measuring tool).

On the plus side, I think she’ll be more marketable in the long run because she’s eligible for the USDF pony classes at this height.

I was having a heck of a time with Joy the last ride. Going to the right was fine. She would bend and move her body. Going to the left she falls in drastically. I can’t flex her left, or turn her head left at all, or we immediately swerve left. She’ll move away from my right leg easily, but when I put my left leg on she ignores it. I can get her to bend her body around my left leg for really small moments at the walk, but then she’s immediately back to the leaning on the left shoulder and bulging left.

It’s frustrating!

I’m trying to figure out if my position was contributing to the issue, but I can’t tell when I watched the video. If you see something let me know.

I need a better fitting saddle for Joy. This one isn’t going to work. And of course, neither of the other two saddles I own fit her either. Ugh. I need a midget sized saddle. I don’t know how I’ll fit my tubby butt in a saddle small enough to fit Joy. I think I need to switch to celery sticks for dessert.

Finally, here’s the video of Joy’s training as of June 5th, 2015. If you watch this, don’t expect much. It’s pretty rough looking. But… *drum roll* there’s footage of me actually cantering.
I’ve only cantered her three three times and only a few steps. This time we turn while cantering!! 😉

An old video

I was looking at some old video’s I had, and thought I’d share this one (for those who haven’t seen it).

I have a headache that won’t go away. I have an impending milestone birthday tomorrow, and also have to work all day. My horse is lame so I can’t ride.  I’m about to throw one hell of a pity party, and you’re all invited!

In the meantime, watch the video and have fun.


Free Training Videos by Carl Hester

This post is a list of links to video’s, pdf’s, and blog posts that I thought were interesting. I found a site listing “What it takes to get to Grand Prix” by Carl Hester that I was really interested in watching, but unfortunately they only had the first two videos in the series. I’ve looked everywhere and can’t seem to find the rest.

Rider Fitness: PDF

Carl Hester – What it takes to get to Grand Prix (parts 3 through 10 aren’t working)
Part 1:
Part 2:

Carl Hester – Training Session 2007
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

Carl Hester – Training your Young Horse Part 1 through 10
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:
Part 6:
Part 7:
Part 8:
Part 9:
Part 10:

Paul Hayler – How to improve a horse’s outline, exercises and gymnastic work to build muscle and strength

Paul Hayler is an international dressage rider, a list two judge, and top dressage horse breeder. Paul advises Hayley on how to improve her horse’s outline and reveals exercises and gymnastic work that will help build muscle and strength – helping her get the best from her horse.

Four Part video series:

Aids Explained: A series of audio files explaining the aids for different movements

Dressage Training Videos

Carl Hester – Clinic recap of his system of developing a dressage horse from 4 years of age and up.

An Evening with Carl Hester:
Part 1:
Part 2:

Aspire Equestrian Monthly Virtual Training Challenge – Christmas Special

I saw a post on Aspire Equestrian’s blog for a training challenge! I love challenges, and I love free help. So of course I want in on this!!

Training Challenge


  • film 1-2 min of clear footage of one issue you would like a training plan for
  • embed it on your blog in a post titled “Aspire Equestrian Monthly Virtual Training Challenge – Christmas Special” and a short description of what you are trying to achieve and what you are doing on the problem right now.
  • send me a link to your blog post as a comment to this post

Avandarre’s Response to the Challenge:

What we are trying to achieve: Clear, energetic, and relaxed canter-to walk transitions is what I’m working on.

What we are doing currently to get there:  I stole an exercise from a video I watched a couple of weeks ago. The concept was to do a simple change at A, E, C, and B. At each letter, take the opposite lead. So A = true, E = Counter, C = true, B = Counter, etc.

Also working on haunches-in, counter canter, shoulder-in, and half-pass. With a focus on trying to keep my upper body centered and balanced (I have an issue with that).

Our embedded video. Voilà!