Monday, December 5, 2016

Three lessons on Jr: Tracey

Last Thursday Jr attended my weekly Tracey lesson. He’s one of those horses that the more I get to know him, the more fond of him I am. He’s pretty stoic on the surface, but he’s got a good sense of humor and a kind way about him, even if his work ethic isn’t all that hot. 

Jr particularly likes to pop behind the right rein, so we’ve spent a few weeks really getting him to the point where I can ride him up into that right rein off my right leg. We continued to work on that in my lesson, mostly by reminding me to keep my hands steady and that when I felt him disappear (even if it was to come more round!) I had to ride him up into the rein.

Regarding my rogue right hand, tracking to the left I’m supposed to carry it low - nearly on the front of the saddle pad, but to the right she wanted me to carry that hand just ever so slightly higher than my left. I don’t know why and I’m writing this down so I remember to ask her in my next lesson. 

We also worked quite a bit on our basic transitions, halt/walk, walk/halt, walk/trot, trot/walk. And man -- you think it’s so easy, right? I mean could you even estimate how many times in your life you’ve ridden a horse off into the walk from the halt? Or moved up to a trot? I probably can’t. And so to realize that I’ve been fudging it all this time, and ALSO to realize that there’s probably another level of finesse that I’m not clear on yet. It’s, uhm, depressing. And invigorating?

Basically the connection shouldn’t really change in a transition. If the horse is on the bit in the walk, IT TURNS OUT they’re not supposed to lean on the bridle, take faster steps, throw their nose up, etc. They’re supposed to carry the bit into the trot, not relying on your hands to balance.

We also worked on my sitting trot, where I realized that if I consider myself to sit DOWN to sit the trot, I sort of squash the horse’s back down out from underneath me. However, if in the process of posting, I just sort of post down and then stay there, I’m set up in a much better place to be able to sit the trot. Tracey did not tell me this, but I almost received a compliment when I sat down more quietly, so I must be on the right track for me personally. 

Jr has spent a few years as a lesson horse, so he has some lesson-horse tendencies (note that his inability to connect to the right rein will occasionally manifest in a horse that was once tracking left on a circle and all the sudden a kid is trotting off the rail down to the right.) especially when it comes to convincing him that it’s time to make an upwards transition. He’s pretty convinced he should walk (slowly [so slooowwwwly]) around on a long rein forever and ever, amen. Unsurprisingly, that’s not the only skill a dressage horse needs to have.

Tracey wants pretty much every transition in and out of trot to be done sitting. So sit the trot to walk, sit the trot to canter, etc. And sometimes when I started sitting the trot, Jr would call my bluff by slowing down, threatening to walk, so Tracey informed me that I must learn to sit the trot into the canter and that’s my assignment for the next week. Yes ma’am.

I also really like to sit down and clamp my lower leg around him, so we worked on letting my calf hang longer and softer, so I could essentially “wake him up” to my legs by not nagging, then aiding for the canter when I was ready for the strike-off. I’m relatively confident that I didn’t totally get this right, because it mostly felt like I bump-bump-bumped with my inside leg and then held onto his face until Tracey said, “and canter,” and then I leg go a bit with my elbows and used my outside leg and off we went.

Oops. Work in progress.

There was one moment where a horse in a pasture just outside the arena went bucking and farting and snorting around and Jr PUFFED way up and sort of asked, “me too???” and when I put my inside leg on he sort of deflated and I could almost hear him whining, “but it would have been fuuunnnn.”

Also wait a second, WHO IS THAT?!?! (Details to come....)


  1. "If the horse is on the bit in the walk, IT TURNS OUT they’re not supposed to lean on the bridle, take faster steps, throw their nose up, etc. They’re supposed to carry the bit into the trot, not relying on your hands to balance. "- who knew?! I can sooo relate to this. I'm glad that you had such a good lesson. I love his face- he looks sweet.

    1. Ugh it's so straightforward to ride about but so much more squiggly to ride! He really is a sweetheart and I'm lucky to have him around.

  2. Poor sweet Junior!! His life is so so so hard.

  3. I love reading your different lesson recaps!

  4. Sounds like the lessons are continuing to go well. Did Jr get to move up to the barn instead of living with the cute minis?