Sunday lesson Part 1 (and pictures!)

This weeks lesson report is getting split into two parts… mainly because I have a lot of pictures and some video to share, and also because there was just A LOT of info coming at me and I don’t want this to turn into a crazy long post.

He’s thrilled 

It’s been two weeks since my last lesson, which was my first lesson with my new trainer. Unfortunately last weekend it rained so we missed our lesson day. In those two weeks I’ve been trying really hard to work on the main points from lesson one, particularly SITTING UP. Honestly, this has been the focus of my entire 22 year riding career – I am Quasimodo by nature. And if someone isn’t always telling me to sit up, hell if I ever remember. The struggle is real.

I hopped on for my lesson, walked around for a few minutes (sitting up!), then started trotting. I got very few comments during my trot work, which I have figured out is a good thing because nothing gets by this guy. I still have to constantly remind myself to sit up and look up and put my thumbs on top. Eq rider, I am not. Henry felt better though too… we’ve got a slower tempo but with a bigger step, and he was actually bending his body around my leg. We did lots of changes of direction, some sitting trot and a few leg yields.

Sitting trot. It’s happening.


Not the best timing, but I mainly just like that he’s actually REACHING through his shoulder

 After a quick walk break we moved on to the canter. If I didn’t get a lot of comments during the trot work, it’s because I got All The Comments during the canter work. I’ll summarize and say that they’re mainly about finding exactly the right rhythm, slowing the tempo but increasing the stride, and keeping him more connected. That’s a lot of work, especially to the right. He tends to carry his hind end too far to the inside in the right lead, which makes everything a little wonky and almost sideways sometimes. More leg, straight shoulders (I tend to be a little crooked too) and just very steady hands and still upper body. That’s really easy to say but not really easy to do. Honestly it’s exhausting. Still, we did manage to get some good canter work in there.

This is not the good canter work

Then we focused on the lead changes.

Henry does pretty easy changes, but he does want to speed up a little bit and get heavy in my hand for a couple strides afterward. Trainer wants seamless changes so that the corners are smoother and they don’t interrupt our rhythm or make tight turns difficult. Off we went on a figure eight exercise. The first couple times were kind of a fail… apparently I like to just lean my upper body all over the place like a drunken monkey (Trainer was too polite to use those exact words but that’s basically what he meant). Henry got all the changes but he also got a bit quicker and pulled. Sooo we talked about it.

Hey ManHuman, make my GirlHuman ride better

And then off I went to try a little harder at doing a lot less. This is a difficult concept for me and always has been a constant struggle in my riding. Sitting there and letting things happen does not come naturally to my personality. So I tried my figure eight exercise again, this time just sitting up perfectly square and being very still and doing absolutely nothing but changing the bend of his body with my legs and a softly supporting outside rein. Much better this time. 3 out of 4 perfect smooth easy changes with no change of tempo. Sometimes it’s so simple that it’s incredibly difficult.


I wanted a trainer with a whole lot of attention to detail and I certainly got one. It’s hard, it’s challenging, and I’m loving every minute of it. Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 – the jumping!

28 thoughts on “Sunday lesson Part 1 (and pictures!)

  1. You and I have the same leaning problem….bad habits die hard I guess! Glad to hear that you’re happy with your new trainer!

    PS….Henry’s faces are EVERYTHING 🙂


  2. Oh man I have a lot of the same problems. My trainer likes to say I had a very impressive display of hunching plus chair seat when I started with her and rarely does she see them go hand-in-hand. That lead change picture is adorable. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Same to everything. Sit up. Work hard at the canter to get Sprouts hind end over going to the left, and do less. I over-ride a lot and it makes me tired, but when I try to just sit there, I do nothing and get into other kinds of trouble. This riding thing is hard!


  4. Sounds like so far the move was very good for you and Henry. Can’t wait to see further updates!

    PS – I’m extremely jealous of your Kastel shirts. I am coveting them. All of them.


      1. I say yes, yes, yes, my poor pocket book says no, no, no way! I am very sad about this. Can you just see me in my CO helmet with monogram, a custom bonnet on my pony, and a Kastel shirt in my roping saddle? I’d be unique, that’s for sure.


        1. I bought a figure 8 because I think he’ll go better in it. I’ve had a girl trying to buy that bridle from me for like 2 years but I just can’t sell it, I love it and they don’t make them anymore, so I’m keeping it for Sadie. 😛


  5. This sounds like my lessons lately! I over-ride every goddamn thing, which is a really good way to piss off a chestnut horse, I’ve found. (Actually, he continues to be remarkably patient while I feel like a flopping useless idiot up there in scary dressage saddle land.) Yay for new instructors!


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