Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 1; Come What May

This was from Friday, but Spud wants to let everyone know how cute he is.
Sidenote; can anyone photoshop him in some tinfoil with some butter,
bacon and chives on him? Like a lil baked potato? Someone? Anyone?!
Part of me was excited for the clinic, especially since I so thoroughly enjoy my lessons with Anthony (when I do have the opportunity to attend), but part of me was seriously questioning my sanity. I had a moment of "we're not ready" followed by reminding myself of T's blog-post earlier this year. Plus, my mantra this year was to take as many lessons as I could and to do the thing.

So... when in Rome, right?

I left work early to get the trailer hitched and horses ready. Initially, I had planned on hauling home and hauling back out the next day, but a friend's birthday dinner in the same town made me re-evaluate and decide to stall the horses at the grounds overnight instead. My friend graciously offered to let me stay at her place, so I took her up on the offer. I brought Spud along as well, since the farrier was going to meet me at the grounds Sunday afternoon to trim/shoe before I headed home.

The horses loaded up well and hauled great to the grounds. I dropped them off and had another friend hold them while I jetted down to Barn C to pick up Show Buddy's gelding (their truck is broken at the moment) and bring him to the grounds.

Post-lunge and pre-ride.
Upon returning, I tied my two to one side of the trailer with hay and started to get everything ready. Unfortunately, Annie was fit to be tied (literally and figuratively) and danced around snorting and sucking her belly up. I wandered back over and tied Spud farther away from her, as she kept body-checking him. She didn't let up tho and kept dancing around and even kicked out several times - in Spud's direction - so I decided it was time to intervene and went over to lunge her.

As I sent her out around me on the lunge circle, she kicked out at me and nailed me right in the upper thigh. It was deliberate, and she knew exactly what she had done. It didn't hurt, it more or less shocked me - I have never been kicked before - and also took a moment to thank my lucky stars she was not wearing hind shoes.

Suffice to say, I lunged the crud out of her. She frolicked and porpoised and snorted her way around me, galloping and tearing up the soil beneath her. Finally, we got to a good place approximately 10 minutes later and I did some ground-work before re-tying her to the trailer. She was much better and more placid about standing and eating her hay vs staring at ALL THE THINGS, but I could tell she was still anxious.

Post-ride cool out.
I went back a few moments later to tack up and get my gear on, which went well. I mounted up and she didn't move a muscle and walked off calmly when I asked - good girl. I did do a brief warm-up in the grass near the dressage arena which felt tight, but manageable. She didn't want to bend, or move out in front of my leg at all, so I rode with what I had before Show Buddy and I were called into the ring to start our lesson.

I was nervous, especially considering Annie's erm... expressive Karen lesson and her naughty behavior earlier that morning.

Anthony had us start out walking before moving into a trot near the top section of the jump ring - we used 1/2 of the ring and mostly stayed on a large circle for the duration of the lesson. A lot of the exercises he had us do were similar to my previous lesson - having a slow/go button and riding with purpose/direction/discipline.

We did find a pretty big hole in Annie's training that ended up causing our ride to go 30min longer, which I both appreciated and felt bad for making other lessons late. Essentially, when cantering right, Annie drifts left HARD. In the saddle it feels like she is pushing into my inside leg and when I apply it to get her off of it, we end up going left even harder. We had some moments of me literally dragging her around a 30m circle cantering because she would almost wander off left and try to go down the long-side of the arena. Embarrassingly enough, Anthony ended up putting poles out to guide me on a circle so I had a visual representation of where Annie's body should be at any given time during the circle - once I focused on steering instead of micromanaging her, we magically were able to canter a circle (and on the right lead!).

Expressive to the left; note the cross-firing.
My aids are "too nagging" which makes Annie unhappy pony.
Anthony is very big on having a horse comply with leg aids and leaving them alone - he has said multiple times that as a jumper you don't want to push a horse every single stride. You ask for a bigger trot (or canter) and the horse should comply and hold it themselves. It's interesting to me, because a lot of Dressage trainers will encourage you to push your horse every stride or second stride. Not that they are wrong - just different disciplines and such.

I did end up having to borrow a whip mid-way through the lesson, which helped quite a bit. Anthony reminded me the importance of having the horse be disciplined enough to acquiesce with the request of "go". Hilariously enough, she didn't throw a hissy fit about cantering save for once which lasted approximately 3 strides. She did cross-fire a bit, but as I fiddled less, the more amicable she became.

Trotting around the jumps at the start of our lesson.

Some things worth noting that I found super helpful:

  • She is very tentative - make her stride bolder and ride her bolder. She'll become bolder.
  • Plan your route. Don't cut in on your circle and play a game of leg yielding the horse in and out  to avoid hitting jump standards - be disciplined in the route you choose and don't micromanage the horse because of your poorly planned route.
  • Leave her alone. When she complies, stop nagging and stop pushing her. Sit quiet and enjoy the ride for a few strides.
  • The lead problem is a steering problem. Don't worry about the lead, worry about steering.
  • Why are you going left? (This was heard a lot that day).
  • Do you have a go button? You shouldn't have to squeeze your horse every single stride to get a bigger trot. Ask for it and GET the results. You don't want to canter up to an oxer and not know whether or not your horse is going to have enough power to get over it.
  • When jumping, all you should need to do is steer.
  • I don't mind her head coming up at the trot - this isn't Dressage.
  • You need to learn how to sit quiet - take your leg off.
  • She is allowed to make mistakes. She's a young horse, she is GOING to make mistakes. You have to let her make them. This isn't a show, so let it happen.
  • "Don't apologize to me for your poor planning." (I apologized for cutting into my circle again). Anthony is a very... gruff sounding individual but he makes his riders be disciplined and thoughtful in their endeavors. Part of his charm is the sarcasm that oozes, and I've found a lot of riders actually like his brutal honesty and non-sugar coating ways. It does take some getting used to tho.
  • Can you feel her outside front bending around the circle? Can you control where it lands?

Wishing my hands were lower but look at the pretty pony.
It was a pretty good lesson, despite the steering errors. I didn't get to jump, or even go over trot poles, but I am OK with it. We couldn't steer anyways, haha. I did notice tho, that Annie was not very amicable in the bridle, but Anthony didn't mind, especially considering he is a jumper. She felt kind of resistant and stiff - part of me thought she may have been sore from the Karen lesson or was being resistant just to be resistant. It wasn't particularly bad, but just something I noticed.

Once we had a few good laps of canter on the right lead around our pole circle, Anthony instructed me to halt and hop off after giving the mare a few good pats. I led her around for a solid 20 minutes to cool out as Show Buddy jumped around and did some more advanced things (bc steering is hard).

Annie untacked well and Show Buddy and I set the horses up for the night in stalls - Spud on Annie's left side and Riley on Annie's right side. She went straight to her hay and drank deeply, which I was happy to see. Part of me was nervous, especially with how anxious she got at the BVX last year. Deep down, I knew it would be good for her tho.

Our scribbles from Saturday.
We cantered... a lot.
Also note - approx 40 min of this was warm up/waiting
for our lesson and the cool out.
We left and I went off to dinner - which was delicious - and I returned to the grounds around 8pm to give Annie her evening mash and check up on them (#helicopterparent). It's a good thing I did... because Annie decided to remodel her stall by kicking down two boards. Sigh. It appeared as though the boards were tapped into a rotten pillar tho, because all the nails were intact and nothing was broken. The boards were tapped into the pillar on the inside of Spud's stall, so by kicking them, they literally just popped out. 

I would by lying if I said I didn't sit at the grounds in my truck and cry, because I did.

I just felt so... defeated. Annoyed. Frustrated.

This horse KNOWS not to kick people. Yet, she kicked me. This horse KNOWS how to be in a stall. Yet, she damaged one.

We did A LOT of cantering.
I was embarrassed and sad when I returned back to the party - all of the ladies were really understanding and tried to help me feel better, which I appreciated. I still feel terrible about the weekend and frustrated with Annie's behavior, especially since I haven't had those issues with her before and it's not like I don't work with her - we do ground-work 3x a week at the very least. 

A friend offered that she just needs more miles, more experience, and more variety. "She's young" they said, "and she didn't have any life experience when you bought her". Yah, it's true, but it still sucks.

After playing silly games and venting my frustrations, I was ready to rally for the next morning. Come what may.


  1. Really good takeaways, and spud looks so unreal in that top photo, like a stuffed animal or something!

    1. Doesn't he? He could have been a model, I think.

  2. You two look fantastic in the pictures! Try not to worry about the things that didn't go perfectly, babies make mistakes, especially when they're in a new environment. It sounds like you both did great!

  3. We seriously have the exact same lessons sometimes! #steeringistheworst

    My Red Pony broke about ten thousand halters when learning about tying ANYWHERE before he became a reliable citizen, and Bobby pawed his way to China non-fucking-stop for a good two years before he learned what going places was all about. Even knowing that experience and time really does do wonders for shipping out and manners, I have a feeling I'm going to be joining you in a cry fest this whole season with Opie. I'm bracing myself for the screaming and weaving that's going to make me want to kill him.

    1. Right?! We are #teambaby, haha.

      That makes me feel a bit better. And any time you need to vent, I am always here!

  4. Reading your clinic recap is giving me courage for for my upcoming clinic this weekend. Shiraz has been so tense since moving and even though I've been so happy about working through it in the arena, I'm terrified how bad she might be at the clinic. There may be tears this weekend for me too but I remember a few years back taking Savvy to her first clinic and all the tears involved. And look how great she turned out. So whatever happens I know in time Shiraz will get better and better as I put in the time and so will Annie. (Even though right now I just want to grab Shiraz by her fuzzy yak ears and give her head a shake because f%$#ing horse get a grip and stop being such a nervous turd!) Sigh.

    1. Aw, glad I could give you some courage :) It really does help, being in this blogging community and seeing other people "just do it"!

      Right?! She hasn't been downright dangerous, she has just been stupid. I just want to tell her, "Seriously?! You do realize prancing/snorting/spooking/pawing is going to do NOTHING FOR YOU SO JUST EAT YOUR HAY DAMNIT"

  5. Right lead canter is hard, right. I'm sorry she kicked you. I'm impressed you just lunged her. I would have murdered Levi. The pictures look great though so it can't have all been bad. I look forward to hearing about the next day.

    1. Right lead canter has been our nemesis for so long, haha.

      I am shocked I didn't do more tbh - I was mostly surprised it happened so I didn't really react the way I probably should have.

  6. holy cow that must have hurt and then you rode? Yikes. Do you have a bruise? I wanna see it :) HA HA HA sorry...

    She does look good in the photos. She is young but i know it is hard to hear that and then have a bruised thigh and a broken stall. LOL. Maybe the stall just fell apart :)

    Keep on trucking. And now I have Come What May in my head thanks a lot!!

    1. It hurt, but was moreso sore. Haha, it is actually a tiny little bruise. The boyfriend said, "It's barely a love tap!" ...Thanks jerk lol.

      She is young and stupid. I can't wait until she grows up.

  7. His little snoot! His white face! Those wee little legs curled up in the cutest way! Yeeeep, spent WAY too long staring at Spud before reading lol!

    Oohhh that little whore for kicking out purposely! I'd have given her a come-to-Jesus moment for sure. Ugh!

    And I know you've heard it lots re: she's young and needs miles, but I'm sure that's the bulk of it! And they have A Day just like we do (boy have I had a couple of my own lately!) I always make myself remember that when my horses are exceptionally awful despite knowing better. They're probably just having A Day and they're entitled to it even if I don't like it.

    It's really awesome that you're getting Annie out there and Doing The Thing though. Huge really. So many people don't get out much and put themselves or their horses into a situation to be judged and critiqued in order to improve. The fact that you're getting out there and doing that means you already have an up on so many! She'll get there. Ebb and flow, time and miles. <3

    1. Spud IS the cutest hehehe.

      Right?! I was moreso shocked it happened, so I didn't really react the way I probably should have.

      Aw, thanks Liz. Your post the other day really helped me put things into perspective. IT's about putting the time and miles in - and we're doing just that.

  8. Just catching up. I think that you should recognize how far you've come. I have found with Carmen that when we go back to work in the spring we have discussions about things that I thought were settled. However, it gets shorter and it will with Annie.