Road to Bronze 2017 June 20-July 10, 2017

Sometimes life gets in the way of our goals.  When that happens, we regroup.  By getting hurt, I was able to focus on auditing 2 amazing trainers: Kasey Nillson from Northern Germany and Debbie Reihl Rodriguez, USDF S judge from Colorado.  A week of auditing gave me the chance to reflect on my training and riding.  I realize that I am on the correct,c classical track with my training, and that the position changes I made from the Beth Baumert clinic are definitely a critical component to rider effectiveness.  I also learned that one cannot push the body when it is healing.  A week after breaking the toe, I was stung multiple times in my right hand by a wasp, resulting in a bad reaction.   One needs to get plenty of rest and keep one’s spirits up despite disappointment.  I will not be healed and ready to show over Labor Day at the recognized show in Grand Junction.  At this point I think I will take the year off from showing and concentrate on improving the quality of all second level movements.  I have begun training half pass and renvers for 3rd level.  Until the counter canter is really confirmed, I don’t want Monarch practicing the flying change.


7/10/17: suppleness horse & rider- walk/trot
comments about today’s training: Monarch was not sore from the trim and pulling of shoes.  I was able to put weight into stirrup after toe break- will start lessons with Susan on Thursday. Plan to lunge this evening to help him build his stamina.
7/6:  1st day back in saddle- test ability to  balance and bear weight.  Was able to walk and trot.  Today Monarch gets his shoes pulled with barefoot/mustang trim to help promote growth in prolapsed frogs (front feet)  He will get the weekend off as we are leaving town for a wedding.
6/27-6/29:  audited clinic with Kasey Nillson at Susan Schneider’s
6/30-7/1: audited clinic with Debbie Reihl Rodriguez- so hard not to be riding at this time
6/26: broke knuckle on left pinkie toe.  unable to wear a shoe or boot; painful to walk.  No riding for awhile.
6/25:  review 2nd level test one- practice quality of canter section Movements #9-20
Lots of resistance today.  Tomorrow: check canter on longe line, esp Right lead.  Practice canter circles & transitions- walk/canter/walk/canter  On long lines- practice collected canter sequence, especially counter canter
6/24: practice at Mary Duke’s- preparation for Debbie Reihl Rodriguez clinic next week.  test quality of gaits and movements.  Improve quality by focusing on relaxation and engagement, specifically prepare for turns and transitions with flexion and 1/2 halts.  He was amazing today!

6/21: received bodywork yesterday; focus on rider position, based on bodywork

6/20: same as 6/19 journal entry;  lesson with Susan was cancelled


Road to Bronze 2017 May 7-13, 2017

This week we focused on laterals to improve engagement, straightness, and submission for the second level movements.  I was not feeling well this week and only got 3 training sessions accomplished.  Monarch is working well and learning a lot.  As you can see from this photo, he has settled down quite a bit.

black birds.jpg


Date: 5/12/17

Minutes of Training: 50

Horse: Monarch

Goal: practice exercises from yesterday’s lesson in walk. Keep poll raised, keep outside rein connection, keep horse active behind, keep correct bend in travers/half pass, build strength behind, improve connection, engagement, straightness, develop flow

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. warm up along rail & in supple circle with long neck, good rhythm, no diving
2. leg yield
3. shoulder-in to travers alternating position at each letter
4. leg yield/half pass zigzag

Reflection: Monarch was very good today. He learned a lot in the lesson yesterday.

Next Steps: repeat in trot

Date: 5/11/17

Horse: Monarch

Minutes of Training: 90

Goal: lesson with Susan, continue with:
1. raise poll (get chest & neck out of the way so hind legs can step through)
2. obedience to inside leg/spur- hind leg must step under and through and horse must not push ribcage against rider’s inside leg to escape the bend
3. continue exercises to develop strength in hind end

Will you continue this goal or make a new goal for next training?: yes

comments about today’s training: Next steps:
practice all laterals in walk, looking for horse to step through, bend, take outside rein contact
raise reins to guide horse to raise poll if he dives
use inside leg to get horse off inside rein
travers is hard- on long side go shoulder-in, change position, go travers, change at each letter
establish travers, then practice leg yield/1/2 pass zigzag

Date: 5/10/17

Minutes of Training: 50

Horse: Monarch

Goal: refine rider aids

Methods- be specific, give details: Use Beth Baumert’s exercises When Two Spines Align; Ch7 “Clear Aids” p79-83: prepare (1/2 halt, shape); listen (either give correction or give aid for action) action (movement or transition); listen (did aid go through? either give correction or praise)
learn exercises in walk, like learning a test, so they become automatic for schooling in all 3 gaits

Reflection: rider listening gives horse the necessary time to process and respond to the rider aids. This creates a dialog, instead of constant demands by rider. This also allows horse to become more independent- Uta Graf

Next Steps: practice in all 3 gaits

Road to Bronze 2017 Apr 18-23, 2017


Monarch very animated earlier this week.  It took me an hour to catch him, because I did not want to trick him with treats; I wanted him to choose to come to me.  Eventually he did allow me to snap on his lead and we practiced 2-year old stuff- leading, halting, and backing.

Date: 4/23/17

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: – practice timing and position of whip whispers all 3 gaits.
– test effectiveness through horse’s response, (does he improve? how?)

Methods- be specific, give details: Through my lessons with Susan, I have developed 2 strategies for my warm up with Monarch. Problem 1- horse is very spooky at C end of arena, particularly R-M-C, but some days in both directions S-H-C-M-R. Today, I began immediately with neck supples on the long side as soon as he began to shy. I noticed that right away, he gave his neck and began to chew. From there, he allowed me to connect, so rhythm, suppleness, and connection improved right away. Problem 2- In the warmup, Monarch has no rhythm when we go to trot after the loose walk. He is quite behind the leg, and uses a funky evasion of jumping in the front to canter while dragging his feet and slow trotting behind. Some days it takes quite a long time to get him engaged. To develop an energetic, rhythmic trot from the beginning , I used the rhythmic whip whispering on inside hip/croup in the moment of the sit in posting trot. When the horse lost rhythm or impulsion, I posted quietly, ignoring any resistance, and quietly kept the correct beat with rhythmic taps in my post. (I did not post harder, use my spur or whip to get more impulsion.) I also counted out loud 1-2-1-2, giving the aid on the 1 (sit) beat. Like the neck supples, the whip whispers corrected the problem quite quickly. We were able to begin the schooling part of our training much sooner, as he quickly warmed up with this new routine.
Here is the exercise:
F-R marching walk, long neck, suppling poll with flexion;counter flexion. R-M neck supples- opening inside rein, release/test, supple again, until horse relaxes and releases. Through corners M-C-H, 1/4 circle supple: (inside spur in rhythm of walk asking horse to step up and over, outside leg guarding bend, opening inside rein asking horse to unlock neck, light check outside rein only if horse falls or shies). H-E-V, trot with whip whisper on sit (1) beat. V-A-F 1/4 circle supple in trot.

Reflection: test effectiveness through horse’s response: does he improve? yes!
how? horse became more engaged, increased impulsion & lightness

We accomplished our goal quickly with this routine, so we took a nice hack outside the arena.

Next Steps: with this much engagement, I’d like to practice walk-canter-canter transitions. I will do the exercise in Uta Graf, part 1/section 2: 10 strides of each. Goal- make it effortless/drink coffee

4/21/17: practice whip whisper in all 3 gaits: timing and position for rider; response & engagement from horse
comments about today’s training: excellent response from horse; horse is now obedient & not reactive. Both the training and the familiarity with the sheep, (they are lambing next door & increasing their numbers each day), have helped him to resettle. Rider- timing is better on left side in trot after practicing on the right side first.

Date: 4/20/27

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: lesson with Dr. Susan Schneider

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. warm up
a. walk: poll supples on 2nd track, then use small supple circle to engage inside hind
b. trot- develop swinging trot with poll as highest point and chest open so shoulders can step through; when horse goes above the bit- hold rein with set hand on wither just in front of the saddle while sending horse forward with inside leg/never pull back with rein; release immediately when horse gives. (This is like a long half halt, 3-5 seconds until horse regains balance and releases.) Post with swinging hips and loose legs- don’t drive horse with strong post and tight legs. When horse gets too quick, also use set hand with inside leg. Horse will rebalance and find a better rhythm; can also achieve by holding core and posting more slowly.
2. Teach horse to engage core by stepping through. Begin exercise in walk, then go to trot, then canter.
a. in the walk, working on a 20 m circle, supple as leg yield with inside leg/soft spur asking horse to step under and sideways. Keep the contact. Next, teach horse to step through with hind end to the bit. Shorten reins and lengthen arms. Whip will encourage horse to push from behind/engage motor. Whip: inside hand with pinky closed, thumb on top, rein lengthened and open for whip to touch croup. Whispering taps with whip in rhythm with walk. When horse stops, he is stuck; he needs to sort out how to step through to the bit. This is a new feel, and he is not sure how to move into the contact. Don’t drive horse when he is stuck; instead just keep riding quietly in rhythm, and he will figure out how to step “through”; stay on the 20 M circle.
b. trot- begin as in walk, (leg yield on circle to supple and activate inside hind.) Next a whip whispering to his croup in trot rhythm. Post and touch horse when rider sits. When circle is good, go large.
c. canter- when trot, supple and move into canter from 20 M circle. Continue to supple keeping neck soft, poll highest point, rhythm relaxed. Then engage inside hind in rhythm of canter- stride 1- very softly on croup. When circle is good, go large. Keep the rhythm regular and relaxed.

Reflection: This lesson mirrors part 2 of section 1 of Uta Graf, “Effortless Riding.” Very timely to have this lesson today; very helpful to practice my timing and softness of aids today.

After such a reactive beginning to the week, this lesson was a reminder of what a treasure my horse is. He works hard and wants to please. He enjoys the training as much as I do. I believe the emphasis on rhythm in this lesson, (along with suppling), helped to steady and reconnect Monarch to my leadership, after his electric and wild affect earlier this week. (I wore my full seat leather breeches today because I was not sure how much bucking I would have to ride. It turned out that he was solidly on my seat the whole lesson and did not offer even one buck!)

Next Steps: Take Monarch away from the sheep next door, so we can focus on these concepts can confirm the feeling of stepping through to the bit, (horse), and timing and lightness of aids, (rider).

4/18/17: Practice flexions for lesson on Thursday; light aids
comments about today’s training: another wild day. Monarch regressed back to 2 years old. Sheep came in to the ranch behind us, strong spring winds, birds building nest in barn, blackbirds in the chico brush. Monarch was very worked up when I went to tack him up, so I turned him loose in the A end of my arena, with a rope from V to P to contain him. Then I let him blow off steam because he was not going to be caught. It took an hour of sending him out before he let me approach him; I used the join up method, looking for licking as a sign that he would let me approach. I finally began to “free longe” him, asking him for transitions- walk-trot-canter- halt. All this was fine, as long as I didn’t try to approach him. After an hour, he finally let me touch him with a cookie. After talking to him, petting him, and many cookies, I attempted to snap on his lead. By then he was 80% calm. We spent the next 30 minutes practicing leading, as we did 15 years ago when he was a colt.


spring shenanigans!


Road to Bronze 2017


4/15/17: practice neck supples, poll flexions, long neck/long arms/ short reins in all 3 gaits.

Date: 4/13/17

Minutes of Training: 2 hour lesson

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Continue to improve movement through freeing the blocks

Methods- be specific, give details:

1. supple circle is now very good. Blocks in neck are released- build on this by refining the suppling through poll flexion & counter flexion.
2. Free the shoulder, open the chest, and raise the poll to allow the horse to step through to the bit. When the horse dives,curls, or jigs- give a 1/2 halt with the upper body- (raise my ribs & chest; vibrate outside rein.) When the horse raises his poll, lightly touch him with both spurs to encourage him to step under and through from behind to the bit.
3. To encourage a long neck- lengthen arms to shorten reins. Hold the reins with the thumb on top of the index finger & open all the fingers. Play lightly with the reins to give aid.

Reflection: When the work is correct, the horse is happier and in better balance. Because it is easier for him to move, he tends to work harder. This is a paradox. When the work is correct, the horse works harder because it is easier!

Next Steps: Practice the 3 skills/strategies from this lesson. Get very comfortable with poll flexion to supple, moving the horse into the bit, and lengthening the neck. Continue to refine aids- get lighter by improving coordination. This will come from practice to develop muscle memory. Also Monarch is very good at giving feedback; he tells me when my aids are good, when they are too strong, and when they are too weak.

4/12/17: Test rider position, especially in canter; test horse response to aids.
comments about today’s training: We had perfect connection today.   Monarch was on my seat & light to the aids, so I must have been light & in time in giving the aids.  Travers was weak yesterday, (he evaded through avoiding the bend; more a leg yield).  To support the bend, we practiced travers in walk on the circle, then in trot on the circle. He was bent and very willing, but he lost impulsion. Maybe try practicing earlier in the schooling; also do other exercises to strengthen hind legs to accept the weight.

Date: 4/11/17

Horse: Monarch

Minutes of Training: 60

Goal: Improve rider position, particularly the left leg, for increased effectiveness of rider effectiveness. Also focus on giving the release immediately after the horse releases in 1/2 half, (outside rein), & the suppling rein. (inside rein.)

comments about today’s training: Monarch was super today . I was able to keep my left leg forward in the left lead canter and only use the spur every 2nd or 3rd stride to renew the jump. My timing is improving. His focus and understanding was very prompt & accurate. I am able to use the inside leg to the outside rein correctly in suppling and connecting my horse. I am able to put the spur on and off gently in the correct rhythm to create a lighter ride. I can use the spur and 1/2 halt, then release to create a very forward medium sitting trot. I am able to sit the big trot with softer elbows and following back.

next steps:  Practice canter-walk transitions on serpentine, then on center line with simple changes of lead.  Horse should remain relaxed and supple through transition.

Date: 4/10/17

Horse: Monarch

Minutes of Training: 60

Goal: Practice ideas/skills from lesson last Thursday: Use suppling circle to create balance and engagement in all three gaits. Focus on riding “perfect” circles.

Will you continue this goal or make a new goal for next training?: yes

comments about today’s training: Horse was very tense and resistant in the beginning of ride in the H-C-M part of the arena. Through patience and insistence that Monarch release his tight blocks in his neck, I rode many supple circles at walk until he was loose and relaxed in all parts of the arena. By the end of the session, Monarch was very loose and attentive to the aids.  We achieved our goals in all three gaits.
next steps:  work on rider position, test left leg independence in left lead canter

Road to Bronze 2017


Lots of work, travel, and bad weather:

I managed 2 days of training this past week.  My lessons with Susan are so amazing.  The canter is much improved, based on suppleness and balance which produced “throughness.”

4/6/17: lesson with Susan Sneider.  In my lessons, we haven’t been doing any figures or movements- we just work on beautiful circles: walk, trot, canter.  You would think this would be boring, but it is infinitely interesting, because she is helping me to unblock my horse and shape him.  The fine tuning is forcing me to be a much more sensitive rider, also much quicker, with lighter aids.  Even if we spend a whole year on the circles, I know that this will lead to setting him up for success in any movement.  Today the canter was just amazing, and it all came out of her system of suppling, aiding when he starts to lose balance/suppleness, and making those aids as small as possible, (but as much as needed.)  I am working the next 2 days at galleries out of town, so I can’t practice until  Sunday.  Judging from my experiences with Susan, I know I’m getting there….  Our horses don’t need training- we do!  My goal for Sunday: use what I am learning  from Susan “to increase the length of our perfect moments, which are coming together more consistently”………………quote from Chris Crowhurt

4/5/17:  practice for tomorrow’s lesson.  Rider- improve seat- sit on pockets; improve feel- look for the release  Horse- improve sensitivity/prompt response to aids

Road to Bronze 2016 Journal Entries

The USLF Journal Collaborative is made up of 3 parts:

  • log entries, (see last post)  These briefly describe day-to-day training
  • journal entries, (this post)  These are in-depth entries that detail methods, results, and next steps in the horse/rider training.
  • interactive, collaborative conversations with other members  (To join, visit United States Lipizzan Federation)

2016 Journal Entries  

(from most recent appearing first)

Journal #11: 10/9/16

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Final 2016 Deb Hindi Clinic

Methods- be specific, give details: Part 1- Monarch came out lazy, dominant, and resistant. After checking for pain and saddle fit, we suppled. After determining there was no physical reason for resistance, he still would not go forward . Training strategy: get control over all 4 feet. We did lots of lateral work in very fast succession at the walk: turn on 4hand; turn on haunch; rein back; change direction: turn on 4hand; turn on haunch; rein back; change direction, etc.  After these exercises, ask for forward trot; he still was not listening to seat (I was rising higher & quicker), he was ignoring leg, and he would buck against my taps with the whip.  We repeated the quick 4 foot walk work until finally, he would go forward in the trot and lengthen across diagonal through my seat aids, (rising higher & longer).

Part 2- Shoulder In & Travers on 20 M circle in trot- he wants to brace against the outside rein- solution take outside rein about 1″ from neck. When I removed the rein from the neck, he dropped the outside rein contact. Modified exercise from step 1- instead of doing full or 1/2 turns, stay on 20M circle in the trot and ask for 2 strides turn on forehand in one direction, then 2 strides turn on forehand in the other direction, (it is like a leg yield for 2 strides, then 2 strides back.) This seemed to reestablish leadership/me and submission/him.
Part 3- turn on haunch from medium walk, shorten and quicken steps. When he became resistant, we briefly went back to Step 1. These became lovely and soft.
Part 4- collected canter: begin with trot 1/2 steps; at first steps were too big and slow. I had to think “Trot in place” with a quick rhythm. These became good, and we were able to move to transition to collected canter. We finished with 3 strides of canter half pass- the first I have ever ridden.

Reflection: When a horse comes out resistant, first check saddle fit and pain issues. Then supple the horse. If horse is still resistant, (not wanting to go forward), one must get control of all 4 feet. In doing this, the trainer can systematically unlock all the horse’s evasions and regain effectiveness with all the aids. Be patient- this can take some time.   When an aid stops to work- go back to the steps described.  If a movement can’t be fixed with a quick supple or 1/2 halt in 1-2 strides, never try to fix a movement that has lost balance.  You have to ride to ride the horse you have that day, so the next day you have a willing & supple partner. Deborah told me the instruction I had today was not a riding lesson. Rather, she gave me the keys to unlock my horse in a way that professional trainers use- lots of quick transitions that require subtlety and feel; (advanced work, not for the majority of her students.) This boosted my self-confidence and my sense of accomplishment in what we have striven toward this past year.

Next Steps: Build on what we established yesterday- submission and quality of gaits

Journal #10: 9/24-25/16

Minutes of Training: 4 hours

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Deb Hindi Clinic

Methods- be specific, give details: Day One
Warm up walk- establish rhythm, long swinging strides, then trot rising with long neck & long loose strides to develop suppleness & warm muscles
“Low & Slow” to develop neck muscle in trot & canter. Connect horse with short reins, developing long neck. Lower crest & poll below withers, looking for neck muscle to connect to shoulder. Tempo must be slow so horse doesn’t lose balance & fall on forehand. Horse must be engaged to build muscle. Be careful- Don’t overwork & Don’t make sore. If horse is heavy on 1 side of bridle, tap with whip on shoulder to get him off heavy side & even in bridle.
Trot Work-
20 m circle rising trot low & slow
Trot across diagonal- start diagonal too slow & build for length.
Shoulder in on long side from low & slow, exaggerate angle to increase work. Use flexion & counter flexion to keep neck low and connected. Ride each stride; constantly make small subtle corrections to adjust for low, slow, straightness, angle in laterals. Ride to the release- (when things are good, give a release. As horse gets stronger, he will hold his position increasingly longer during release.)
Canter- 20 m circle low & slow. Inside rein to overbend/release. Outside rein and inside leg- counterflexion/release. Inside leg & inside rein- true flexion. Don’t work too long; sit on outside seat bone to transition to trot.
Walk on long lines, long rein, rest horse & cool out.
Day Two
Developing suppleness:
Warm up in walk:
long swinging straight lines
Bending lines riding small loops quarter-line to rail full length of long side
leg yield rail to quarter-line, then back to rail, keep horse straight: weight on outside seat bone, inside leg at girth moves horse laterally, tap in rhythm, (get stronger to increase effort in crossing hind leg.) Maintain straightness by alternating counter flexion/true flexion
Supple work in Trot rising: (use long rein)
Straight lines- down long side, across long diagonal, build power across diagonal, keep horse straight and engaged.
20m circles- inside rein for overbend/release, counter flex-inside leg keeps the bend, outside rein asks for flexion, use inside rein judiciously to prevent counterbend. True flexion- inside leg at girth, outside rein keeps neck straight, inside rein asks for flexion. Give with outside rein while keeping neck straight.
20 meter canter- same work as trot.

Reflection: “Too low/too slow” is NOT rolkur- the horse is never taken behind the vertical. The goal is to connect the neck muscle to the shoulder, or in Monarch’s case- build the neck muscle to connect to the shoulder. The bottom third is there, but not well-developed.

Always use leg with an elongated frame and deep heel. If the rider’s heel comes up, she’s lost her seat bone.

During suppling work: Monarch drops inside shoulder going to left. Use outside opening rein to help him find outside rein contact. Tap inside shoulder w/whip to move it out of the way. Same in canter; also on left lead, open outside rein to improve connection, tap inside shoulder to move it out of way, then ask for flexion. Improve bend by tapping with inside calf to move horse’s barrel to outside. Continue circle of aids & subtle prompt corrections: (outside open rein, vibrate inside rein for flexion, move & lift shoulder, move barrel to improve bend, repeat.) When suppling- only do trot-canter transitions- walk-canter is for building engagement

Next Steps: Use these steps in warm up- 10 mins suppling & 10 mins strengthening each day.

Journal #9: 9/13/16

Minutes of Training: 60

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Canter-Walk transitions & simple changes: better balance canter to walk & better accuracy/attention during the simple change, so horse picks up correct lead every time. Though the transition is very uphill with much animation, Monarch can get excited and ignore my aids as he jumps back into canter.

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. warm up/suppling/de-spook at walk: turn off track into small circle and leg yield back to track: bending (allowing my inside leg into his ribcage), leg yield into soft outside hand, and relaxed horse poll to tail
2. build engagement with 1/2 halt in 20 M circle and shoulder-in on long side at trot- horse is honestly in front of my leg and into outside rein
3. collected canter full arena- focus on engagement and straightness
4. canter-walk transitions in 20 M circle: change after full circle; change at 1/2 circle; change at 1/4 circle in both directions.
5. simple changes on centerline I-X-L
6. simple changes on serpentine

Reflection: Monarch has greatly improved his down transition from canter to walk. He was great in all the exercises until we practiced the serpentine. Then he got really jazzed, did not want to change the bend, and wanted to jump right back into the same canter lead. I had to change our work to calm him back, so we could reconnect. We practiced tranvers at walk, then turn on the haunch.

Next Steps: Tomorrow I will practice the canter serpentine with a walk loop between two canter loops to keep him more focused. When he can do the middle loop in a focused walk with correct bend, we will practice changing the lead in the middle loop.

#8 JOURNAL: 9/2/16

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: improve quality of shoulder-in, especially to the right

Methods- be specific, give details: 1. Since we’ve had most of August off, we started with a grooming session to reestablish connection and trust.
2. Warm-up- establish rhythm and looseness.
a- long rein, straight and diagonal lines focusing on a loose rhythmic walk, rising trot, working canter.
b- supple using bending aids in corners at walk and on 20m circle in rising trot: (weight on inside seat bone, inside leg at girth/outside leg supports bend behind the girth, inside vibrating rein creates flexion, supporting outside rein steady; point belly button in direction of turn)
a- In walk, leg yield from A-E. If he needs to be looser in the bend, use bending aids & circle at E- 8 meters. Continue to circle until bend is supple. If he feels loose, use bending aids at E, to prepare for shoulder-in; then 1/2 halt and slide hands to inside (without crossing withers) to bring shoulders off track. When position & angle are established, 1/2 halt again, point belly button down long side, use inside seat bone to establish rhythm and keep lateral movement; ride toward the give (of the inside rein.) Straighten at H. Repeat leg yield C-B; shoulder in B-F. Turn at A: change flexion, leg yield A-B. Test bend this side at B. When horse is ready, shoulder in B-M; straighten at M; turn down centerline at C, leg yield C-E; shoulder in E-V.
b- sitting trot: repeat exercise. When shoulder in becomes fluid, go down the long side in shoulder in, collected trot
a- Praise lavishly
b- canter down long side in collected trot as reward.
c- walk on loose rein
d- more grooming, cookies, praise

Reflection: Since the clinic last weekend, I have been stretching daily, as well as resuming some core exercises focusing on my asymmetries and stiff areas. In shoulder in, I put all my attention into my position, as well as “riding toward the give .” As soon as I could feel my inside seat bone weighted and moving with my horse, everything came together.

Next Steps: Continue to practice quality in the shoulder-in. Ride the exercise F-B: shoulder in; 10 meter circle; travers B-M, straighten at M, bend in corners and repeat up the next long side. Ride exercise in both directions.

#7 JOURNAL: 8/27-28/16

Minutes of Training: 90

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Clinic with Deb Hindi; improve angle and engagement of shoulder-in

Methods- be specific, give details: WARM-UP: (he came out quite fresh after being off for 2.5 weeks with a lovely forward rhythm in all 3 gates); supple: leg yield in walk; stretchy chewy 20 M in trot, 20 M canter circle on long rein with 1 rein/ then 2 rein ubersteichen
SCHOOLING: “Ride to the Release” half-halt, then release the inside rein. If the half-halt went through, the horse will maintain balance & position. If not, repeat halt halt and release. Focus on rider position- weight on inside seat bone with outside leg supporting just behind the girth. Use circle aids to establish bend, hold position with core. Give halt-halt, hold with outside rein and release the inside rein. Stay active: supple with inside rein if he counterflexes. Ride deep into the corner to create bend and position, then ride inside leg to outside rein to build power and engagement.
COOL DOWN: stretchy chewy trot in both directions, then walk on a loose rein.

Reflection: Need to focus on rider position: For shoulder in right- find & keep right seat bone, right leg is long and deep into stirrup with a hugging leg, looking down long side with core. (Left is much easier for both of us. Resume rider stretches and core work daily.)

Next Steps: Improvement after 2 days focusing on quality of bend, angle, and engagement. Continue to practice- become very aware of rider position.

Journal #7:  June 14/15

Minutes of Training: 80

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Ride in Doyleville with Deb before bringing Monarch home. Learn how to train like Deb when I am at home without her guidance. Improve my timing and effectiveness of aids.


Trot- 20 M circle at A.

  • Use bending aids to overbend- suppling from poll to tail. Don’t hold- supple a few steps, then release.
  • Counterflex a few steps to continue suppling poll. (In the counterflex, remember to ride with bending aids- my core points in direction of turn, inside leg to outside rein, outside hand “massages” for outside flexion.)
  • Shoulder fore- establish outside rein connection through inside leg. (Ride true bend and bring shoulder off circle to inside. With the position established, ride belly button to outside with inside leg to outside rein. Active hind end with whip to get quicker steps.) When connection is honest, return to circle with bending aids. Change direction/repeat on other rein.Walk- across diagonal; at X change direction. Sashay to encourage swinging back and overstep.Trot at C, sitting down the long side, sashay. Across diagonal medium trot rising. Sitting trot on next long side, sashay. Across opposite diagonal medium trot rising.Walk at A, 20 M circle. Use half steps to activate hind end; (feel for quick steps.) Back to walk, counterflex a few steps, return to true bend, 1/2 halt inside leg/outside rein, canter transition.Collected canter 20 M, use strong 1/2 halt if he is heavy, (make sure the rein is short enough to keep hands in “home” position.) Create the canter every stride.SCHOOLING: Walk-canter-walk-canter transitions on the circle. Balance the transition with 1/2 halt. Change direction through 1/2 turn on the haunches. (Think travers to ride turn on haunch- outside leg back to guard, inside leg taps in rhythm. 1/2 halt each stride.) In new direction, school walk-canter-walk-canter transitions.Reflection: FOCUS ON QUALITY- NOT THE MOVEMENT. If the transition or movement doesn’t happen, STOP & PREPARE again. Create the quality with preparation.Next Steps: As I get stronger from my back injury and my stamina increases, add more figures in collected canter. (I drew some figures in a notebook.  Review the notebook before going out to train.) Focus on a light horse who is raised in the front. When Monarch drops his shoulder, use strong 1/2 halt.

#6 JOURNAL: June 8 & 9, 2016

Minutes of Training: 3 hours

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Work with my trainer, Deb Hindi, developing the engagement and strength for a 2nd level horse

Methods- be specific, give details: Warm up: trot- establish an outside rein. 20 m circle. Use inside leg & a variety of positions including shoulder in, shoulder fore, true bending circle, and haunches in. When outside rein established- change rein through medium trot rising across diagonal. Repeat on new rein. Develop outside rein in canter- repeat same exercises in 20 meter walk circle. Feel for acceptance and contact with outside rein. From walk with engagement and outside rein, cue canter. Keep canter & outside rein in 20 meter circle. Repeat same exercises in circle. Change direction- work other rein.
Schooling: figure 8- 10M canter circle to 20M counter canter, repeat. When both canters are balanced, ride across diagonal in true canter with simple change at X. Repeat exercise on other rein. Trot work – collected in sh-in/travers. Medium across diagonal. Keep neck up in all diagonals.

Reflection: With Monarch staying with Deb for 2.5 weeks, he is receiving concentrated training and making profound progress! It’s exciting and very motivating to train such a talented horse and willing partner. I am grateful to Deb for giving us such effective training. Monarch is with Deb for one more week.

Next Steps: Ride with Deb twice next week. Learn as much as I can while I’m with her-focusing on my timing and rider position. I will then bring him home and practice daily keeping in mind our 2nd level show at the end of July.

#5 JOURNAL  5/2/16

Minutes of Training: 60 mins

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Though Monarch has been difficult to motivate in the canter, I will focus on my position and influence him through a good seat and well timed aids. “Sit like a Princess, and Monarch will carry me.” This is the advice my trainer gives me when my horse is acting dominant and not listening to my seat and aids. Jane Savoie often reminds her readers to never force or push your horse. “Grinding will distort your position.”

Methods- be specific, give details: WARM-UP
1. Establish a good marching rhythm. Ask horse to supple neck and flex poll. When horse is supple and marching forward, engage the horse’s mind through many transitions and changes of movements. Change up schooling movements in walk, (leg yield, circle, bending line, shoulder in, travers), with forward trot work in between. Do short laterals in walk, then immediately transition to a forward trot on a straight line, then transition quickly back to walk.
1. For the canter transition, (in walk or trot), first PREPARE: (sit up, outside 1/2 halt, inside flexion). Second FEEL when outside hind leg is about to touch the ground, (as my hip is lowering)- at this moment, give canter aids: (outside leg slightly back; inside leg scoop forward and in; hips mirror leg position.
2. As horse understands that he will not be pushed into canter, sit up, sit still, and merely think- “canter.” Experiment with how light your aids can be.
3. “Sit like a princess.” Heather Moffett, “Enlightened Equitation,” p 37: Encourage the horse to lift and round his back with each stride making a little jump. In the 3 beats of the canter, allow pelvis to rotate forward, (engage core and flatten back); then return to an UPRIGHT seat- (no driving seat.) Allow quiet legs on the horse’s sides to maintain impulsion, use very light touch with calves as the back reaches the highest point. A slight squeeze with your leg will lighten your seat. Give a squeeze every 4th stride to maintain impulsion.
4. Janet Foy suggests using the whip in the outside hand. Use whip quietly to refresh canter.
5. If horse breaks, never push horse back into canter. Return to trot or walk, establish an impeccable position, and make a new transition with preparation and feel in the correct moment. Reward horse when he holds canter for at least a 20 M circle.
6. Intersperse trot work, (shoulder in & tranvers) between walk breaks and canter work.

Reflection: “Sit like a Princess” feels really good- the feeling gives me a mental image of what I must look like. It feels very balanced and light.

“Sit like a Princess” reminds me that I am the brains and my horse is the brawn. It’s my job to direct, and my horse’s job to carry. When I sit like a princess, I don’t distort my position by “grinding,” as Jane Savoie says.

“Sit like a Princess” requires both trust and courage. Trust that my horse will respond, and courage to use the whip when he ignores me. He did give me one big buck, and then the issue was over. At that point, he decided it was less work to cooperate, than to resist.

Next Steps: Hillwork tomorrow- to build on what we are doing. Cantering and trotting up hills builds strength and stamina. Getting out of the arena creates a forward horse.

#4  JOURNAL  4-6-16

Minutes of Training: 60

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Rider- test position, maintain balanced alignment

Horse- positive response to go

Methods: Warm up- liberty groundwork to test connection; I have not been able to ride for over a week. During this work, Monarch became quite aggressive and dominant, not letting me be the leader. At the point when he lunged at my arm, begging (demanding) a treat, I changed direction for this day’s training session.

New Goal: establish mutual, collaborative connection

New Method: use long lines developing relaxed walk-trot-canter, then work the transitions in a fluid, forward manner. Use inside rein to work relaxation and suppleness. Use outside rein to develop half halt and balance.

Reflection: When I asked him to track up in the walk, he became tense. I could see he was tight in his back and did not want to track up. In the trot, he became explosive. I am so glad I changed my plan and did not ride him. He could have hurt me. Using long lines, I was able to work through the tension and reestablish a sense of connection and obedience. It was somewhat intimidating to have ahold of such power when he was exploding, (like the proverbial “tiger by the tail,”) but it was also spectacular. Bringing him down from the bucking canter and unbalanced gallop, he did an extended trot. Responding to my 1/2 halt for balance, he moved into a gorgeous passage. I was in awe of the beauty he exhibited. Eventually the trot-canter transitions become relaxed and lovely. At this point he could also overtrack in the walk. We ended on a positive note.

Next Steps: I need to continue with this groundwork, (long lines and liberty), for a few more sessions until I am sure he has returned to his usually angelic self. I need to remind myself to be patient, as I am anxious to get back to riding and training. “The slow way is always the fastest way…”

FEEDBACK FROM BRONWEN CLEARY:  “I really enjoyed your training journal from today.  Definitely much safer working from the ground when they have pent up angst for whatever reason, especially if it is expressed as belligerence. The beauty of groundwork is that you can stay safe and channel the energy into an acceptable expression instead, and as you experienced today, end up with something beautiful which I’m sure you both enjoyed.”

#3  JOURNAL   3/19/16

Minutes of Training: 6 hours

Horse: Monarch

Goal: attend Winter Wake-Up clinic

Methods: Winter-Wake Up clinic goals: reconnect with your horse, then use biomechanics (principles and techniques) to get your horse supple for returning to work. The day started with groundwork on a lead line. The connection was so strong with Monarch, that I was able to do all the exercises- (forward, turn to inside, turn to outside, halt, backup, walk through cavaletti leading from both side) at liberty. This was the first time I have been so successful with the liberty work. I’d like to try this at trot soon. Next we moved on to bodywork. We did some of the Hilary Clayton core activation work, and then I learned some new stretches that bodyworkers use. I was able to release many tightnesses that Monarch had developed over the winter layoff.

After lunch, some of us did longe work and others did work on the long lines. Monarch and I worked on long lining. Again, he was very connected. I was able to get the 1/2 halt through, so we could work on transitions within the gait at trot and canter. Then we did cavaletti on the long lines.

The last part of the clinic was mounted work. I immediately noticed as huge difference, (improvement) in Monarch’s way of moving. He was very loose and forward- something we had struggled with for the past week, as I was bringing him back into work. Since he is coming back from a winter layoff, this part of the clinic was rather modified, with many walk breaks. He did some turn on haunches/forehand; walk-trot transitions, a bit of trot through cavaletti on straight and bending lines, and a bit of canter.

Reflection: I want to incorporate liberty in my daily warm up, as well as the body stretches, as Monarch struggles with engagement with a deep step under his body.

Loved the long line work, because in the long lines, the trainer is able to see what the horse is doing. Unlike longeing, the trainer has both an inside and outside rein, so training is much like mounted work, and the 1/2 halt is possible.

The clinic made a huge and noticeable improvement in my horse’s way of going. This was a great learning experience- added some new tools to helping my horse, and I learned that the spring resistances are in the body- not the brain.

#2 JOURNAL     Date: 3/17/16

Minutes of Training: 70

Horse: Monarch

Goal: Monarch- after a week off, reestablish obedience and forward desire.
Me- using my new posture from P/T, ride with left leg forward (at girth) and heel out

Methods: OBEDIENCE: ground work- I will work on both his inside and outside in both directions at walk and halt- Monarch will keep his own space, (not fall into my space). Laterals- Monarch will leg yield and hold shoulder in position down the long side with light aids from me.

FORWARD: use Jane Savoy’s FORWARD strategies, (if he slows down, I give light aid, if he doesn’t surge forward, give strong aid to get his attention, then back to walk and ask again lightly. If he gives a surge, reward. If he ignores- strong aid again until I get reaction. After every strong aid, bring him back to walk and ask again lightly until he learns to go forward without strong aid. Never leave a question with a correction.)

MY POSITION: check in frequently at walk and trot

Reflection: Obedience on ground was very good.

Forward was very difficult, with bucking and many corrections. We will need to continue to work on this. To be fair, he is most likely out-of-shape, though I think he was also being lazy.

My position is improving and keeping a correct leg is much easier.

Next Steps: Tomorrow, do the same warm up on the ground with walk-halt and laterals before work on lunge. Add the request to back up from a light aid, after he is warmed up to get him thinking about working his hind end and to go more forward. Walk- halt- backup- forward….repeat

Before mounting, lunge to work on forward trot with light aid.  Watch to see him lengthen his stride and move with more energy from light aid.  When he is reliable light and forward, reward, then mount.  Same exercise from the saddle.

#1 JOURNAL    early March

GOAL: improve the effectiveness of my seat through physical therapy and conscious attention to rider position and balance.  I have traveled to Denver and worked with my physical therapist for 2 days in January.  She made some remarkable changes in correcting my rotated hip, my frozen left knee, and the flexibility of both my feet and ankles.  My PT exercises were quite difficult at first, though I am making progress through regular practice.  Exercise routine includes 3 different core strengthening repeated 3 times,  held for 2 mins each, twice/day; a hip stabilization exercise held for 30 section on both sides repeated 3 times, and a posture exercise.

METHOD: use awareness of my “new posture” at walk, trot, and canter; continue to focus on the muscles I am developing in my PT while I am riding and continue to check in on my overall position, listen to Monarch and adjust based on his feedback.  First day back in saddle, we worked at walk only.  Next session, we did walk and trot.  By the fourth day training, we could do walk, trot, and canter.

REFLECTION:  I am getting much stronger- able to hold the first two exercises for a minute and 50 seconds.  The last exercise, I can hold for a minute and 1/2, but I struggle to keep my back completely still and flat.  Also, I find it hard to fit 2 PT sessions in my day, especially now that I have increased my time with each exercise.  I will instead do my reps X4, X5, and finally build up to X6 in a single session.  I have improved the posture exercise so much, my 3 reps have progressed to 30 reps without pain!  The exercises and the muscle/joint remodeling from my physical therapist have made it possible to ride without my leg on the horse, except a bit in the canter.

When I first started asking Monarch for an active trot, he was resistant and did buck.  I had to be both assertive and consistent until he accepted my aids.  Also, since I took my leg off immediately after asking, I think the request was both clear and fair for him.  The issue resolved itself after the second day.

I had a lot of traveling this past week, so I am anxious to begin working with Monarch again.  I was able to do the PT while traveling, but Monarch did get a week off after only one week of training.  Our work together needs to be more consistent.  With the weather improving and daylight savings time now in effect, I am hopeful for more consistency with our training.

NEXT STEPS:  Continue with P/T and go to the therapist for two more sessions next week.  Begin riding Monarch every day again, with focus on position for me.  For Monarch focus is prompt & forward  obedience.

ROAD TO BRONZE 2016, a year in review

Last year I was very busy getting the Loving our Lipz Journal Collaborative up & running, an online, interactive program for the United States Lipizzan Federation.  I forgot to include my training here, as well.  I will update all of last year in the next two blog posts with my training log posted here and the in-depth journal entries posted next.  We learned immensely moving from first to second level, and even more showing at second level.  I was thrilled to earn one of my qualifying 2nd level scores.  My plan is to show on Labor Day weekend 2017 for my second qualifying score at 2nd level, then move to 3rd.  Training in 2017 is moving along well, and the work we did last year is paying dividends in a stronger, more connected horse.

2016 Log entries, (most recent appear first)


12/4: redevelop horse/rider connection; improve fitness

11-14-16: Horse- improve rhythm by going more energetically forward with connection
Rider- refine rider position, timing & lightness of aids
comments about today’s training: I use a gentle snaffle and a fairly light touch on the rein. I learned that the lightness and subtlety of my hand can be dialed way down and still be effective. Even a light touch was too much in the hand for Monarch, interfering with his forward rhythm. Today Monarch taught me to always listen and to make sure communication is a dialog, never a monologue.

11/13/16: Learn the George Williams rhythm exercises.
comments about today’s training:  Monarch continues to be resistant in the warm up- particularly in rising trot. He improves after lateral work, and particularly when I work him sitting, rather than rising. I’m not sure how soon to go to sitting trot. By the end of our session, he is nice and forward and listening. It takes about 60 minutes. I think this could be caused by one of 2 things. Either he is burned out by all the hard arena work we did this summer, or he isn’t being worked every day, so his condition isn’t up to the level he was at this summer, creating a resistance to hard work. Once we get going, he seems to click into the work and become forward. I can’t be as consistent about training this fall as I was in the summer, so I will explore the Hillary Clayton fitness exercises for keeping him in better shape. This takes the emphasis off school figures. It may keep his mind fresher.

11/12/16: borrowed a 30″ cinch today, which will work with my horse & saddle.  Trail ride on Spring Creek Mesa.  Monarch was quite forward in the trot.  I think the saddle fits him well, and he is quite comfortable wearing it.  This will be a good trail and mountain saddle.
11/11/16:  Test western tack comments about today’s training:  cinch did not fit, so I hopped on bareback & worked on basics. He was very sticky in the beginning and very forward by the end. 🙂

11/8/16: lesson day with Tilly and Jasper- lead quietly with Jasper; teach steering to Tilly with clip reins to halter, seat work on longe line-first day riding in saddle, work to keep seat soft & following in trot

11-7-16: busy day/not much time to ride- just want to keep up momentum I began with yesterday’s dressage training. Play day- riding without tack- many turns, halts, laterals
comments about today’s training: at first he did not understand what I was asking. After repetitions and showing him with ropes tied to halter, he did get the idea, so I could steer and stop without using the ropes. I found that I needed to 1/2 halt very strongly with my seat before I could turn him smoothly. I love how we teach each other.

11-6-16: travel to new arena- test riding connection and fitness after having a few weeks off from training. Test balance of saddle after reflocking.  comments about today’s training: saddle was beautifully balanced. Monarch was attentive and giving me his all. We are both not fully fit, so dressage training in future will need to reflect need for rest periods and light work interspersed with heavier demands.

11/2/16: ground work with Tilly. Retrain, so Monarch is not explosive in canter. I want him to go quietly from walk to canter.
comments about today’s training: He was fairly good about the walk canter depart- with only 1 balk and no buck. Tilly only rode him in walk-trot.

10/27/16: Took Monarch to saddle shop in Grand Junction for 2 saddle fittings. He had to stand quietly in the parking lot of a busy area of Grand Junction- shop is located along a 4 lane divided highway.  comments about today’s training: He was nervous at first, but did settle down.  As suspected, the left side of saddle needed reflocking- it was bridging and slipping.  I want to explore how this affects his resistance.  Also, I ended up purchasing a lightweight western saddle fitted; now take him on more trail rides.  Again to keep him fit and interested, as we slowly return to dressage train in a more relaxed, less intense training schedule.

10/26/16: give longe lesson to Tilly; continue this goal; comments about today’s training: He was very resistant in the canter. Tilly was a star, very brave, staying on through his resistance- some rearing and bucks. I will need to work with him on calmly going forward on longe in canter.  I think he is getting burned out, as referenced in 10/19/16 log, though groundwork 10/17 & 10/11 was very good.  I need to explore this behavior.

10/19/16: build strength & stamina; review lateral work from yesterday; finish with a hack focusing on engagement in collected and medium trot.
comments about today’s training: outside the arena, one can really get good engagement. I think Monarch is a bit burned out from all the dressage training we did this past summer. I need to develop a training system that allows him to stay strong & supple, continue to advance and provide interesting and/or relaxing activities to prevent him from getting sour.

10/18/16: enjoy the fall; hack out
comments about today’s training: It was windy, & Monarch was spooky. After riding down the road, I realized it was not safe to hack out. I returned to the arena to reestablish trust & connection with lateral work. Shoulder-in always seems to solve my problems. That’s why Shoulder-In is the classic exercise- it can address a variety of issues. Today we worked on controlling the shoulders- this exercise came from Jane Savoie: ride from shoulder-in to tranvers, keeping the bend and line of travel, just changing the position of the shoulders. I was amazed at how well this exercise worked. I feared that I would not be able to hold the line of travel and bend when I changed position of shoulders.

10/17/16: groundwork to reestablish trust & connection

10/15/16: Trail Ride- Mesa Rim Trail, Grand Mesa  comments about today’s training; : Amazing ride, Monarch was super. Went with 2 other riders and their seasoned horses. When we got to the edge we could see literally more than a 100 miles!


0/11/60: build stamina through longe: w-t-c

10/10/16: Review lessons of clinic- moving the feet when Monarch becomes dominant and resistant

10/8/16: Trailer to a busy barn to train. Load last into a 3 horse slant. Deal with commotion of busy barn, many horses in tack area and arena
comments about today’s training: much better work ethic today. Spent a long time in the walk getting both of us loose

10/7/16: review 2nd level engagement & quality of movements before clinic
comments about today’s training: Monarch was resistant, and I didn’t have enough time to work out submission to get good quality. Never move ahead until the basics are established, no matter how long it takes.

9/16/16: improve travers for 2nd level tests
horse- position, bend, engagement
rider- position, weight
trail ride post schooling

9/14/16: bareback dressage- rider position & balance

9/12/16: Return to work on 2nd level- refining quality of gaits & improve shoulder-in through strengthening horse, attention to rider position, & use of uberstreichen to keep horse honestly on outside rein with good positioning.
comments about today’s training: yesterday’s bareback session paid off today with a super responsive horse & fabulous 1/2 halts- like downshifting a sportscar for increased power & engagement:)

9/11/16: renew horse/rider connection: create sensitivity in horse for prompt, honest acceptance of aids & in rider position for aids to “go through.”
comments about today’s training: I need to remember to train bareback weekly to keep me sensitive to my rider position and his response to the aids.

9/4: trail ride- walk, trot, canter

9/3/16: rider position, test shoulder in with ubersteichen; test horse impulsion- no spurs

Aug. 5-7, 2016: Dressage in the Rockies 3 Day Festival, USEF/USDF recognized show; showing 2nd level tests 1 & 2 each day, plus warm ups, grooming, walking on grounds, etc…
comments about today’s training:

We received our first qualifying score at 2nd level! I am now halfway toward earning my USDF Bronze Rider Medal. I ve learned so much and feel confident about earning the second score. I am out of time and money for this season. Will continue to pursue that second 2nd level score next year.  top row: trot work  bottom row: canter work

8/4/16: final schooling on the Colorado Horse Park grounds before 3 day recognized USEF/USDF horse show- 2nd level; setting into stall, walking around show grounds, bathing, braiding, etc…

8/3/16: last training with Deb, (my trainer), before leaving for Parker, CO to compete in Dressage in Rockies Festival- showing 2nd level

7/31/16: same as yesterday.  One more day to practice at home before we leave for Gunnison/Doyleville for final training.  We leave for the Colorado Horse Park on Thursday.

7/30/16: Practice 2nd level movements and improve quality by focusing on timing, balance, and precise aids.  comments about today’s training: Laterals need more consistency with impulsion and angle. Right lead counter canter is becoming more balanced. Half halt from medium to collected gaits is finally coming through. For Monarch, the key is to ask for flexion, then the half halt. This in turn allows Monarch to rebalance and come back to the collected gaits, making the half halt & transition easy and light. The simple change from canter to walk needs more balance. In the up transition, sometimes Monarch needs better focus. When I lightly shake the inside rein, it seems to both create inside flexion and get his attention. Then I can step down on my inside stirrup, slide my outside leg back, and ask for the canter with inside leg at the girth.

7/19-28: 7/19-21 practice 2nd-1 test with trainer before Autumn Hill show; 7/23-24 Autumn Hill 1 hour each day with warm up arena + test before a judge; 7/27-28 work with trainer to learn 2nd-2 test; ongoing goals until end of show season     comments about training: second level is a huge jump from first level- the degree of power and engagement makes the 1/2 halt a critical component in adjustability between & within the gaits. In my 2nd level debut, the first test lacked impulsion.  We were able to do all the movements, but lacked the quality required for 2nd level. In my second test, we had tons of impulsion, but my horse was not through enough to accept the 1/2 halts, so we had many mistakes- missed canter leads and transitions. Working at my trainer’s after the show, I was able to find the feel and create the longitudinal suppleness necessary to create the transitions within the gaits, particularly the transition from medium to collected canter. With this new-found adjustability, test riding is beginning to become fun, but still very physically & mentally demanding, particularly at my age and level of health with my back and knee issues.   It’s a steep learning curve for one who has never had the opportunity for advanced training or ridden a schoolmaster.  At age 64, it’s now or  NEVER!

7/17/16: horse- develop poll suppleness for engagement in shoulder in
rider- develop rider feel for small corrections and effectiveness

7/16/16: weekend clinic- work on 2nd level test 1 quality of movements, focus on canter

7/15/16: review work from Gunnison training: Horse- suppleness in poll/submission
Rider- timing, feel, effectiveness of aids

7/14:  suppleness thru poll, submission, willing & effective 1/2 halt, plus timing the small adjustments needed to ride the 2nd level movements

7/13:  suppleness thru poll, submission, willing & effective 1/2 halt

7/11/16: Practice 2nd-1; focus on preparation, 1/2 halts, directives: engagement, bend, transitions
comments about today’s training: He was sore on right hind- very noticeable in R canter, 1/2 steps, and rein back. Adjustment to goal- work on loosening through lateral work and rein back at walk & trot.  Will give him the day off tomorrow.  Then assess Wednesday night, when I go to my trainer’s to work.

7/10/16: Learn 2nd-#1 test patterns; practice movements & DIRECTIVES
comments about today’s training I am much better in creating the engagement in my horse that allows him to move with expression and power. This will improve with fine tuning my position and timing.

7/9/16: longe- connection & engagement

7/8/16 : improve collected canter thru more engagement, especially in counter canter
comments about today’s training: We had good success today on the left lead- usually his weaker side. I felt the half halt come through. As a result- his back came up and he was carrying me “like a princess.” What a fabulous feeling of both grace and effortlessness. On the right, he kept falling through the inside shoulder. It took a great deal of effort and focus to bring him up. I used a HUGE half halt, and then that lovely feeling of carrying power came back on the other side. I suspect I will be able to bring him up more quickly and with far less effort in the future. As Podhajski said, “my horses, my teachers.” I am learning so much!

7/6/16:  Develop engagement for collection in trot and canter by
~Rider position & effective aids
~Horse becoming sensitive & prompt responding to aids
comments about today’s training: Strength is coming. Monarch is better able to hold the counter counter and stay in collection; he is teaching me to be a more effective rider.

7/4/16: rider position & effectiveness of aids
horse- focus on aids; develop engagement & strength in canter work

7/3/16: engagement & trail ride
comments about today’s training: I’m teaching a young girl to ride. We took a trail ride after I schooled Monarch for about 30 mins. As she rode behind me, I found I could explain the concepts we have been working on- the swing in the walk, keeping even rhythm, timing, when to sashay & when to follow the horse’s movement, etc. by having her feel what my hips were doing, and by pointing out how the horse feels when I do certain things.

7/2/16: Monarch will give longe lesson to young student rider- he must be obedient, calm, safe, and move with engagement.

6/30/16: improve collected true & counter canters

6/28/16 improve collected movements- strength and stamina

6/26/16:  quality in 2nd level movements- collected canter, counter canter, sh-in, travers

6/22-23/16  Work with Deb in Gunnison- test quality of 2nd level movements & make improvements where needed
comments about today’s training: Monarch drops his shoulder through his chest which blocks engagement. Strategies: 1/2 steps; counter-flextion for no more than 3 strides, then true flexion; strong 1/2 halts to balance and free the front end; 1/2 halt with inside leg to outside rein to reestablish the outside rein contact. NEVER POWER THROUGH A MOVEMENT- if it doesn’t happen from the first aid, ALWAYS go back and prepare him, so he can move with balance and power. The horse powers/the rider prepares.

6/20/16   horse- stamina in collected & counter canter
rider- position & effectiveness of aids  comments about today’s training: worked the figure 8- 10m collected canter/20m counter canter; could not hold counter canter- will make this easier by working with shallow serpentine loops until he holds the counter canter in a 20m serpentine loop. Then will work the serpentine down to C and back up to A.
It turned very hot this week. I need to be able to get up earlier and ride by 8 AM. I am not very strong in the morning. I am getting up 15-30 mins earlier each day, and getting on 30 mins earlier each day.

6/19/16  horse- strength & obedience in collected canter
rider- confidence and clarity in collected canter; timing & position in walk/collected canter depart; position & timing turn on haunches  comments about today’s training: quick tap with whip in shortened walk just before canter depart creates uphill animation and energy in the collected canter

6/18/16  lunge- horse fitness; ride bareback- rider aids and position

6/17/16  practice and review work from Deb; get stronger & build on this work

5/25-26 Ride 2 lessons in Deb Hindi clinic- build on what we have been working on- 2nd level movements, rider seat & position, develop deeper engagement

5/21  Test rider balance and position- practice all movements from Deb sessions and reproduce the feel and quality at home on our own

5/20 practice all movements from Deb sessions and reproduce the feel and quality at home on our own

5-18/19-16  Travel to Gunnison to work with my trainer, Deborah Hindi.  She has had my horse all week.  After Thursday’s lesson, I will take him home.  comments about training:

This week has been amazing-
  1.  Deborah riding my horse for a week while I was on the Front Range.
  2. Having 2 working sessions with my physical therapist
  3. Training for 2 amazing days with Deb.

Here’re the highlights:

Deb reported that when she got on him, there were no holes!  (As she trains and competes in Wellington, Fla all winter, we don’t see her until the following May.)   She said I had done a really good job bringing him back to work after the winter.  She worked all the 2nd level movements.  He worked well, was forward, balanced, and on the aids.  Monarch  is very similar to her stallion; they both share the problem of dropping their shoulders in travers.  She had really good success with introducing her horse to the double, and we played with a modified draw/curb rein.  When I rode, we first refined my aids in shoulder-in/haunches in, then created a hypersensitivity to my seat in shoulder-in, travers, & simple bending circles, then on to creating clear transitions in collected to medium trot.  (No aids except my seat- it felt fabulous to have a horse so tuned into my seat and so responsive.) Building on that,  he gave me the most amazing 1/2 steps in the same exercise- 10 M circle shoulder-in, travers, & bending circle.   Later we worked the collected canter in the 10 & 20 M circle from the collected walk.  The depart was huge!!  I could feel what the pirouette will become.   It was really good work.   He is somewhat weak in right hind, so the 10 M left canter circle in shoulder fore in preparation for the pirouette was hard to hold.  Deb was so pleased with my PT work.  (Me too- it gave me such confidence.)  I now have a left leg, and I can place it in any position I need to create the movement I need.  This past week has been such a gift!!

5/10/16  RIDER: develop strong awareness of rider position through continuously checking in on seat, legs, ankles  HORSE: improve the quality of impulsion, 4th level of the training scale in all 3 gaits.  Use mantra ,”sit like a princess; move like a king” for the two of us.  If things fall apart, don’t push; rebalance and start again.

5/7 & 9/16   improve collection through 10 m circles and counter canter

5/3/16  Hillwork to continue building strength and stamina for my horse & to improve 2nd level canter work. Canter and trot uphill; engage hind end to walk downhill.  comments about today’s training: Getting out of the arena resulted in a really forward horse.  Now I can build on yesterday’s goal- use rider position to improve canter; I will focus my next work on 2nd level canter movements- serpentine with the simple change and counter canter in bending lines and along the track.  Instead of combining the canter movements, as in a 2nd level test, I will work on separate movements, and combine the canter work in future schooling.

4/30/16  Continue to build strength &
stamina,- horse; continue to improve rider position- work in canter  & counter canter today

4/28/16  suppleness & connection, comments about today’s training: original goal was to work the canter serpentine. He was quite spooky, so knowing you ride the horse you have that day, I made a quick adjustment. I used Janet Foy’s “spooky horse” techniques, especially bending and flexing away from the problem, while “keeping the line of travel scared.”

4/26  Horse is honestly forward from the leg; (continue, build on this goal- comments: He was so behind the leg and humpy, I almost gave up.  By the end of the lesson, I had a lovely, forward horse in all gaits.  I am glad I did not give up.)

4/25 increase stamina- cavalletti

4/24/16  increase stamina- horse & rider

4/22/16  obediently forward in connection; rider confidence

4/17/16 horse- connection, obedience; rider- position; both- stamina

4/13/16  horse- obedience & suppling;  rider- consistency  (Same plan as yesterday, except not riding bareback.  About 1 minute into the warm up yesterday, Monarch did a huge spook- leapt about 10’ sideways.  He felt all bunched up like he would buck or bolt, but he came right back to me.  I was amazed at how balanced I was sitting- stayed in the center of his back through the sideways leap.  I also stayed fairly calm, but today I put on a saddle and really worked on suppling at the walk with lots of laterals.  At the end, we ended with some nice 1/2 pass.  I will try walk-trot tomorrow.  It’s so weird that I was so nice & calm yesterday, but felt so cautious today.  Well we ended on a good note and needn’t remediate tomorrow.  Upward and onward…….)

4/12/16  BAREBACK ride- horse- obedience & suppling;  rider- consistency

4/11/16  Reestablish obedience and connection

4/6/16     Rider- test position, maintain balanced alignment;   Horse- positive response to “go” aids

3/19/16   attend Winter Wake-Up clinic

3/17/16   Monarch- after a week off, reestablish obedience and forward desire.
Me- using my new posture from P/T, ride with left leg forward (at girth) and heel out


Bron- I did your same plan yesterday, (quiet bareback ride to develop relaxation & suppleness.)  About 1 minute into the warm up, Monarch did this huge spook- leapt about 10’ sideways.  He felt all bunched up like he would buck or bolt, but he came right back to me.  I was amazed at how balanced I was sitting- stayed in the center of his back through the sideways leap.  I also stayed fairly calm, but today I put on a saddle and really worked on suppling at the walk with lots of laterals.  We ended with some nice 1/2 pass.  I will try walk & trot tomorrow.  It’s so weird that I was so nice & clam yesterday, but felt so cautious today.  Well ,we ended on a good note, and needn’t remediate tomorrow.  Upward and onward…….

Cheri- I think we have gone through some very similar situations, and that’s why we connect.  A lot of people really don’t understand, so it’s not always easy to talk to people about it either.  Unless you’ve gone through that whole fear cycle yourself, you don’t get it!
I’m glad you kept your seat so well (I’m sure an added advantage of the core strengthening you’ve been doing!) and also that Monarch came back to you so fast.  I have found myself that although I am extremely calm in an ‘event’, there is a price to pay afterwards, as I lose some confidence and sometimes have to take a few steps back over the next few days.  It has always seemed so illogical to me – especially if you have handled the ‘event’ well (as you did), then you would think you’d be even more pumped the next day, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.  Sigh.  I try to be patient with my cautious days, rather than forcing myself into a place where I’m not comfortable at that particular time.  Wishing you a lovely ride tomorrow! B
Thanks Bron- that’s where I’m at too- patience for the cautious days, because otherwise I get out of my comfort zone and way beyond my zone of proximity, (learning theory jargon for the zone where you are a bit uncomfortable & where you can push and learn.)  When I get into the anxiety zone, I just make up a bunch of “crap” reasons why I am too busy to go ride.  C
to Cheri: LOL, love the ‘anxiety zone’!!  Yes, been there and make the same crappy rationales about why it’s entirely impossible for me to ride that day!  :)B