Thursday, February 1, 2018

Derek Huget Clinic: Day 2

Monday morning - the winter storm was NOT
messing around.
Before I had left on Saturday, I quickly mentioned to Trainer K that pending the weather situation, I may not make it for my second lesson. She assured me that if I was unable to drive out, she would ride Annie in my place.

As Sunday morning rolled around, the weather was not... favorable. I checked several weather cams before asking the Boyfriend if he would mind driving (ever since getting into a car accident two Winter's ago, I am a big weenie). He agreed and we picked up N along the way, as she wanted to watch my lesson.

We left with an extra hour to spare and made it well within time for my lesson - the roads were in pretty decent shape, but some areas were a little sketchy.

Pictured: Not Sunday's driving conditions, but
still sketchy as fuck.
Due to the high winds and blowing snow, I brought Annie into a stall to tack up. She seemed nervous about the new change and bobbed her head disapprovingly as I ran back and forth to the trailer, grabbing tack. N kept an eye on her while I got my riding gear on, but mare eventually settled and started to nibble the hay I had dumped in the corner feeder.

Part of me is glad her coping mechanisms in a stall are becoming less pacey/anxious, and I think having her in for training with Trainer K for a month will do wonders with her associations with stalls.

She was excellent to tie and tack up, cocking a leg and only shuffling slightly when I strapped the dressage boots to her hinds. She rarely wears boots, so I think it was a bit of a weird feeling for her.

We moseyed to the indoor and I took my time to hand-walk and do some ground work (as well as checking and re-checking my girth) before heading to the mounting block and hopping on. She stood quiet and tried to move off as I collected my stirrups, so I reminded her to stand and she did.

Since we looked like the models on the top right the day prior.
I didn't warm up as much on this day than the previous day, as I could tell Annie was lacking a lot of pep in her step. She is more naturally behind the leg due to lack of fitness and her temperament, so having her tired for the lesson was going to be challenging. Not to mention I was also tired (and so very, very sore... wow).

I still opted to warm up walk, trot, and canter - using the methods Derek gave me. She felt decent, but behind the leg. Derek greeted us warmly and we went off trotting, attempting to re-establish that "go" button and connection to the outside rein.

We had a lot of success with connection, although the primary focus of the lesson was the canter, so once that got under way we didn't worry too much about her connection to my hands and the bridle. We were worked mostly on the outside perimeter of the arena, using both the long and short sides for canter transitions using the same method he had us practice the day prior.

Does anyone else see photos/videos of themselves riding and are like
Several times Annie died out on me, so I grabbed a whip and we spent a few moments training the same ideology - whip tap means go. Annie isn't unfamiliar with this notion, but wasn't responding appropriately when I did tap her. So, we schooled her by clucking and tapping, encouraging her to go forwards and rewarding her when she did.

Moving into the canter, we stepped it up a notch by being more firm about where she would go into canter (vs her just falling into it on her own) and keeping her cantering. Most of my responsibility was to cluck and/or kiss to keep her going and to add leg pressure. There was no kicking or whipping - just voice and pressure.

It worked quite well and Annie never once attempted to pop back into canter or throw herself into the canter like she tends to when she anticipates and/or has a tantrum. The tail swishing subsided and she even managed to get her bad lead quite a few times. We didn't work too much on fixing the lead issue, though, as Derek explained to me that he believes I don't have a canter issue - I have a leg resistance issue. He went on to explain that from what he has seen in Annie thus far, the right lead is difficult for her, but she also spends a lot of time arguing with me about it (sounds familiar to my Anthony Lothian lesson) and bulging herself to the outside that she picks up the wrong lead. Ironic in a way, because sometimes counter-bending a horse can produce the correct lead - this has not proven to be the case with Annie.

^Not cantering.

With the idea of bulging, we worked on 'tickling' the inside rein while cantering right - asking her to bend and unlock her neck/shoulder area. I am certainly not doing his explanation justice, but it was to basically unstick the natural crookedness in her body. Interesting note, Anthony Lothian (who we clinicianed with in October) had told me I ride her crooked - which is something Derek doesn't necessarily agree with, but it's interesting to note both instructors have found this crookedness.

As we cantered left, we applied the same notion, except tickled the outside rein, as she was tipped to the inside more. Derek encouraged me to ride the canter "normally" (vs clucking and using my legs sparingly) and the canter I rode for 30 seconds at a time was AMAZING.

We fell in and out of this Amazing Canter (especially during the corners) but was quick to have it return. I couldn't help but smile and Derek called out, "THAT is your Dressage canter!" When we came down to trot, and eventually walk, I told Derek that we had never gotten that canter before - I hadn't ever felt that kind of connection or rhythm in her canter.

Still need to lower that poll a bit, but looking better.
The lesson ended there, with many pats and praise for a Very Good Pony. Of course, my videographer/photographer abandoned her duties early on in the lesson, so there isn't much media. Which is fine, the lesson was pretty boring in the grand scheme of things, haha!

All in all, I was very proud of Annie. The quality of work I eeked out in the two lessons was huge - we made a great strides and have made some steps in repatching our canter issues, which I feel quite optimistic about. I am glad I just went with it and applied some of T's advice - it would've been so easy to say we weren't ready (because we really weren't), but the knowledge we obtained and the lessons we learned were worth it.


  1. You found the elusive magic canter! Isn't it the best feeling?!
    Sounds like a really productive couple of lessons for you, and Annie seems to really be taking to the work. So exciting!

  2. Good lessons and nice canter! It all takes time and patience and you're both getting there!

    1. Thank you!! All the hard work is paying off.

  3. hey we do the tickle too for Remus trot (and Canter if I EVER GET HIM BACK INTO IT LOL) it is really cool how that helps. And what a great lesson so glad you got boyfriend to drive you that would been a shame to miss. YAY!

    1. Yah!! It's crazy what just a little tickle on the reins will do :)

  4. Sounds like you got a lot of glimpses of what Annie will be as she becomes more and more schooled! I love finding those moments with green horses!

  5. Amazing canters are THE BEST feeling! Hurrah for unlocking that awesomeness.

    1. I'm sure replicating it will be hard but we'll get there :)