Monday, October 18, 2010


You know those days when your horse totally steps up to the plate and exceeds your expectations?   I love those days.  I was absolutely enamored with my horse (all over again) by the end of the day on Sunday.

Since I'm trying to be financially responsible these days, I have scrapped my plan to try to take a bunch of clinics this fall/winter (though I am very tempted to take the clinic with Chris Kappler coming up next month).  Instead, I've decided to schedule some lessons with a few other local trainers whom I've heard good things about, just here and there to get another perspective on my horse and my riding (with Alicia's blessing, of course).  So on Sunday I took a lesson with Sarah Segal, who trains along side of Chris Kappler.  Tucker was amazing, I learned a lot, and it was a very fun way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

We started off getting a nice forward trot rhythm to the left, using about 1/3 of their huge ring, and getting him in a little more elevated, and in fact less round, frame so that he was lighter up front and using his hind end more.  Once Tucker got the hang of what I was asking, he happily complied.  Right off the bat we did lots of walk-trot-walk transitions.  I tend to give Tucker as many steps as it takes for him to walk without bracing or losing his hind end during downward transitions, but Sarah pointed out that this is actually making it too easy for him and allowing him to avoid the moment of actually sitting down and using his hind end.  So we worked on making the transitions happen quicker, even if they weren't perfect the first few times, and they did improve as we kept doing them.  (Such a smart horse!)  Then we let him extend his trot to give him a break from all the hard work.

Then we went to a smaller circle, tracking left, and worked on counterbending, then back to an inside bend, and went back and forth between these for a few circles.  Once that became smooth, we increased the aids for the counterbend and did a shoulder-out on the circle, then back to a normal bend, then a shoulder-in on the circle.  He did all of this really well.  I haven't done much shoulder-in while on a circle (I always do them down the long side of the arena), but it really seemed to help him since it became more like just amplifying my aids for a normal inside bend. 

We went back to the full 1/3 of the ring and then changed directions, and did some more transitions, trot-walk-trot.  Once these improved, we went back to the small circle to the right, and did the same exercise in this direction.  I had explained that I struggle with his shoulder-in tracking right because he pops his left shoulder out and overbends instead of using his hind end.  The circle exercise really helped with this and then she had me hold the shoulder-in coming out of the circle, tracking straight across the ring.  He stayed really soft and used his right hind so nicely.  I'll defintely be using this exercise going forward.  It feels more like a logical progression: establish a good trot on the circle, then counterbend, then shoulder-out, inside bend, then shoulder-in.

We let him walk and catch his breath and then went to the right lead canter.  Again, lots of canter-walk-canter transitions.  We'd canter about ten strides, walk, then canter right away again.  And repeat.  Then we did some countercanter, another thing I haven't done much of with him, but I was relieved that for the most part, he executed it beautifully.  So we'd canter right, walk, canter left, walk, canter right, walk, canter left, and progressively asked him to hold the counterlead a little longer and around the corners.  Then I did a simple change of direction through the walk, and we did the same exercise to the left.  Lots of transitions, and then we started alternating leads between the left lead and the right lead countercanter.  It was easier for him to hold the right lead countercanter (not surprising, since his right lead is always easier).  I was so impressed with how well he held the counter lead though, since I almost never ask him for it.  I think I'm going to start making it a part of our regular flatwork. 

The jumping portion of the lesson was great as well, and I have lots more to tell you but it's time for bed.... There's a kitty curled up on my lap right now and she's making sleep look very appealing. 

On a different note, I hope everyone will say a little prayer or send good vibes or think positive thoughts for Gennyral.  My thoughts will defintely be with OTB and her beautiful boy while we wait to see what's going on with him.


  1. Financial responsibility sucks. I'm doing the same thing (though on a smaller scale), and it's not fun. I mean, I feel good about it afterwards, but it's hard to say no to all that fun stuff.

    What a great lesson! I'm going to try to steal some of that to do with Izzy.

  2. Awww, thanks Wolfie! That made my night.


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