Saturday, July 8, 2017

Karen Clinic - Day 1

Annie had had two days off prior to the clinic due to her sore feet and I hoped she would be recovered enough to ride in the sand/hog-fuel mixed riding arena at Barn C. Thankfully, I needn't worry because she was just fine in the ring.

We ended up leaving later than anticipated and I arrived at Barn C with literally 15 minutes before I was supposed to be mounted and in the ring. Oops. Good thing Annie doesn't require lunging and didn't seem to mind the quick tack up and haul over to the indoor arena.

Horse Show Buddy snapped this shot <3
The basis of the lesson was kind of pre-cursory to Day 2. K hadn't seen us in a while and we did a multitude of different exercises to see where Annie's fitness was, where we could push and where we couldn't. I felt like Day 1 was kind of a "getting to know us" phase where K was able to give us helpful pointers and guidance, but also formulated a plan for the next two lessons based off of what she saw.

Because I feel like I'd end up writing an entire novel, here are some of the points from the lesson that stood out the most to me (they are not necessarily in chronological order):

  • Her trot is much too fast - think half halting her put pushing her into each half-halt. Once she gets a steadier trot, I will begin to feel some "springyness" (and boy did I ever!) in her gait.
  • With the leg yielding, straighten her out as you go along and then start asking again. Her hind-quarters tend to trail after her shoulder, so straighten her out and ask again.
  • K figures she was western broke, as she has a very abrupt stop.
  • She has a lot more connection with the bridle now - take a feel of your reins and CLOSE YOUR GODDAMN HANDS CATHRYN.
  • Hands don't need to be super wide - show her where to go and give supple squeezes to support her shoulder through the turn. Block the bulginess of her outside shoulder with the outside rein.
  • Some of this was attributed to the saddle blocks, but it is also poor strength on my part - I need to stretch my legs down and keep them at the girth. I have a tendency, esp on this day, to let them swing back when the blocks interfere with the forward motion.
I really like this gif, particularly because it
shows a moment of resistance (bracing, rushing)
and you can see how it changes within a second.
Very happy with Annie's response and attitude!
  • With leg yields - straighten her out before getting to the corner so you have time to prepare for the corner.
  • Use your whip to back up your leg, esp if she is ignoring it (leg yielding again).
  • She lacks a lot of fitness and physical strength in her hind end.
  • The right lead issue appears to be a fitness thing. When she gets it, have her canter on it and LET HER GO. Don't try to oversteer or anything, just let her do the thing. Bring her down to walk immediately and praise the living daylights out of her.
  • "Wow she is really athletic" when she decided for the 46th time she was going to pick up the wrong lead while I counterbent her around her left shoulder fo reals.
  • When it feels like you can't sit the canter, sit back, pull your bellybutton up, and drive her forward.
  • "You are tempting fate!" -Me. When we finally got the canter lead and K asked for us to do it again (later on in the lesson, of course).
  • With the canter, when she feels you stop riding she breaks to trot. Think of each canter stride as a jump - allow her to move forwards and push each stride to support her.
  • Keep her straight - practice moving away from the track of the arena and utilize the open space to "test" your straightness.

  • You can support her, but don't over-support. She needs to learn how to carry herself and use herself properly. Show her what she needs to do and then go back to riding.
  • If you are doing an exercise that frustrates Annie (because she doesn't understand) or it makes her stressed, have her give you a little bit of what you want and move on and then come back to it. No point in stressing both of us out!
This lesson was supposed to be 45 minutes, but due to Annie's resistance to get her right lead, we ended up joining the next rider's lesson for about 15 minutes so we could get that lead and try to address WHY it is so difficult for her.

Pictured: our good way, and my love affair
with my inside rein.
When none of the "tricks" worked, we had a random moment where Annie literally picked up the lead without needing to be counter-bent, leg yielded, etc. I literally just went back to riding her like I would a normal horse and she got the lead. So we were kind of left scratching our heads as to what the "trick" to getting the lead was because it seemed to differ each time. K basically said it's a strength issue and it'll get better as it develops more over time. The important thing is to incorporate a lot of suppling exercises and counter bending exercises to get her to be more "noodle-like" through her body. She wants to bulge that inside shoulder SO badly, and it's my job to not only block that, but to help her to become less stiff.

Despite the lengthy time it took to achieve the whole lead thing, it felt kind of like a break-thru. K had told me that although we had issues with the lead during the lesson, to be very happy with Annie as we got some really bang on trot work and even tho it took a long time to get that lead, we did get it. I asked K her general thoughts on how I've brought Annie along so far and if she sees Annie becoming a good well-rounded partner. K basically echoed everyone else's thoughts in saying that Annie has come a long way (K mentioned she has come a LONG way since our lesson in February). It was nice to hear, especially that I am not ruining the horse.

This was not even 5 minutes into being tied up.
Overall, I was really pleased with this lesson. We were able to mish-mash a lot of information into the session and although Annie really fizzled out on me during the end (lets be honest, both of us were super tired), a lot of forward progression was made, which is really what it is all about. The trot work we had was beautiful, and at some points I literally felt some springiness in her entire gait. 


  1. That sounds like a great lesson.

  2. Hooray for a good lesson and confirmation that you're moving in the right direction and making progress 😁

  3. I'm glad that this was such a great lesson for you guys!

  4. Hahaha! LET GO OF THE INSIDE REIN!! Ugh. It's hard.

  5. That illusive right lead yo. I feel the struggle