Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bringing a Horse to His "Happy Place"

 Monday's lesson brought a great learning experience. It started with me riding canter serpentines with a trot transition in between to change leads. This is actually very difficult, much more so than riding on the straight because you need to do a quick downward transition, turn, then canter again. I worked up to doing this by cantering one part, the two, then the entire serpentine.  It is difficult to focus on everything all once and still keep your geometry correct. I found myself not quite making it to the letters after the canter transitions.

 After a few ones with a controlled canter and good geometry, I went across the diagonal to change directions, riding the same exercise in the other direction. Like last time, it was difficult. Focusing on riding transitions and directions takes practice, but I got a few good ones.

 Next, I rode through the dressage test I recently started working on, Training Level Test 3. It not go well at. In short, it was tense, wild, fast, and not very controlled. Chester was in one of his energetic moods and was completely running off, causing me to keep a tighter hold on the reins, which irritated him more. I kept him on the pattern, but it was anything but the balanced and calm test the judges are looking for.

 The next time through, my focus was mostly on calming Chester and getting him back to his "happy place." Rather than nagging at him by constantly half-halting, I decided to relax, take a breath, and talk softly to him. The result was successful. I was able to get Chester relaxed and happy, and it wasn't just by holding him back, the latter of which may slow him down, but not truly get him back to his "happy place."

 This test turned out much more smoothly and controlled. Chester was reassured when I talked to him and gained confidence. Meghan says that being able to relax a horse that quickly takes a good rider, so I must have really improved over the summer. If something like that happened three months ago, I probably wouldn't  have stayed on and would likely have dismounted  and tried again another day.


  1. Training 3 is probably one of the more challenging lower level tests. I never showed it before moving up to first because it just never seemed to flow well. Good for you for sticking to it and getting it done!

    1. It does seem more challenging than the others I have tried. Thank you!

  2. Sometimes you have to consciously think about working WITH the horse, as you did here.

  3. that's great! you have personal affirmation that things are moving right along :)


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