Sunday, July 9, 2017

Karen Clinic - Day 3

The third day was undoubtedly our best ride, and also the ride that has no media evidence (isn't that always the way?). We had a lot of things come together from the previous two days and I was able to apply the critiques I received as a rider into something more tangible.

I was supposed to ride a fourth day, but opted to finish on day 3 because all of the hauling was starting to wear both me and the horse out and I found out that someone had hit my horse trailer* while it was parked on the street, so I didn't want to haul until I made sure the structural integrity of it was OK.

Thankfully the damage was minimized to the fender, but still
frustrating to have it damaged after BF put so much
work into it.  :( 
For the lessons, on any given day it took no less than 4 hours to get everything organized, get the mare hauled, tack up, warm up, ride, and then pack up to head home. Next time I may opt to just board Annie at the facility, but with my terrible anxiety, I decided not to because I had convinced myself she would maim herself somehow if I left her there (srsly, the horse is fine).

*I had left my trailer hooked up to my truck on the street (it typically gets parked at the BF's moms) and had unhitched my truck earlier in the day to run some errands. I guess some time before my lesson that night, someone backed into it and left a note in the mailbox. I didn't notice the damage when I hooked up (I actually tack up and everything on the other side of the trailer) so I didn't find out about it until the BF texted me saying we had a note in the mailbox. Thankfully, the horse trailer is fine. We are going through insurance for the damages and only the fiberglass fender is damaged.

Doing some "lengthening" across the diagonal. 
When I first mounted up, K called over to me that my farrier had called the barn and when he found out I was having a lesson that evening, he offered to come by and shoe Annie afterwards. I was kind of surprised when I showed up to learn that my horse would be shod afterwards, especially because I was looking forward to heading home and relaxing, but at the same time was happy she would be getting done sooner rather than later. Farrier had also mentioned on the phone that it would probably be better to shoe her after the lesson vs before because a tired horse is easier to deal with, esp when it is their first time being shod.

Back to the lesson, a lot of what we had worked on the previous two sessions was applied, and all the suppling exercises we had done the day before really played a huge role in Annie's bendability (it's a word, I swear) and ability to perform better, especially with her bad lead. In fact, we didn't get a wrong lead at all! Yahoo!

My hands are much too high (some weird habit I apparently
have now...) but I love the engagement in Annie!
 Some key points (although a lot of them were a mix of the previous two days):

  • Don't tip forward in the canter transition - sit back and up. Tipping forward will throw Annie off balance.
  • Push each stride of the canter, especially on her weaker side. Don't micromanage it too much, just let her canter and figure it out.
  • Outside leg and outside rein are your friends for the 20m canter circles.
  • Outside rein in general is your new BFF, it's time to break up with the inside rein.
  • When you transition from canter to trot, push her forward to maintain the flow of energy.
  • Lower your hands a bit more (as evidenced by the photo above). I've never had that problem before so idk why I do now!
  • The indoor arena is small (for Dressage tests), so you need to prepare well in advance, especially for turning down centerline.
  • When she becomes distracted, give some suppling squeezes with the reins and push her forwards.

Achieving some bend thru the circle.
Towards the end of the lesson, we ran through a Training Level test. Although it was messy (namely the canter circles), it felt extremely do-able. I have wanted to run through a TL test, but was not sure it was do-able or would be productive. And although I did have to re-circle a few times to really get that outside rein activated to prevent her outside shoulder from bulging and carrying us away from the middle of our circle, it went really well.

All in all, the last lesson was my favorite and I was pretty proud of my mare and her performance. That feeling of pride continued to the farrier appointment, wherein Annie was a perfect patient! Initially, we weren't sure if we would be able to shoe all 4 hooves, as most of that would depend on Annie's thoughts about the whole process. But she was good, aside from when she got a bit more nervous about Farrier hammering the nails in on her one hind.

I am really not photogenic... but at least the mare is cute.

The lessons were a lot of fun, as well as educational for both me and my mare. As T had said to me, "having outside forces pushing my boundaries just a little since I can't be relied on to consistently push myself, way too easy to leave the unknowns worrying me for another day!". And maybe those boundaries are set unknowingly - we normally stop at a certain point, or we *think* we won't be able to get XYZ so we avoid it or work on something else. It may not be fear that prevents us from pushing further, it may just be that we aren't sure where to go from here.

As I had stated previously, the lessons were taken for a few reasons:

1. Establish that Annie and I were on the right path
2. Push the boundaries and see "where do we go from here"
3. Confidence boost for the both of us

Well earned couple days off  grazing
in the front with her BFF.
I think we rightly achieved all three points with great success. The pictures and videos may not be the best, but I am very happy with the progress we made and the new tools we have in our toolbox. 


  1. Sounds like a really wonderful clinic experience for you both!! Awesome that you had the opportunity to participate and that Karen had so much excellent insight! Annie looks great in so many of these pics from this post and the last!

    1. It was really a good set of lessons :) Can't wait for the next ones.
      And thank you

  2. I think you have a ton to be proud of with these three lessons! And it's definitely awesome that Annie was cooperative with the farrier for her new kicks :)

    1. Thank you so much - that is actually really encouraging to hear from someone like yourself :)

  3. Such a wonderful experience for both of you!

    1. It really was! I can't wait for my next lessons :)

  4. The high hands are very french classical :) I'm so glad you had a good clinic!

    1. LMAOO. That's one way to take it. :P

      I am, too!

  5. Ah yay! I am so glad you were able to participate in this clinic and takeaway so much!

    1. It was a learning lesson and fun at the same time :) Can't beat that.