Monday, May 28, 2018

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 2: Forward For Acceptance

Apologies for the long delay between the two clinic recaps - catching up on several posts left me a little burnt out and typing up another long post just seemed a bit unbearable, haha. Never fear tho, my writing muse is back and I have more to write about!

Monday morning being a holiday, I was able to relax a bit at home before heading out to grab the horse trailer, hitch up, and load the mare. Annie was nibbling at the hay and looked a bit annoyed I was there, haha. I can't say I blame her, because I felt pretty sore from the previous day's ride.

Trot poles!
She loaded up just fine, traveled and unloaded quietly. She's starting to finally understand that trailering isn't a hugely stressful situation and slowly but surely is also beginning to nibble hay while loaded up. She stood quietly at the trailer while I wandered over to check out the lesson that was going on and to see if Anthony was running behind. Thankfully, he was on time so after watching the lesson for a few minutes, I wandered back to the trailer to get Annie tacked up.

I warmed up in the patch of grass by the Dressage arena and Annie felt very resistant in the bridle - her steps were kind of jerky and stompy vs being a bit floatier. I worked her at the walk and trot, alternating between pushing her shoulder in and out like I had done in the previous lesson. It worked well and I was able to get her to relax down a bit more. She likes to start out tense like that, especially when we aren't in an arena.

I did attempt to sit on her a bit and she floundered against me, making her back rigid and hollow. After a few strides, she settled a bit but alternated between relaxing slightly and hollowing herself. I did realize that perhaps it was a bit too early to sit the trot, so I went back to rising once I got some OK sitting work from her.

More trot poles!
Anthony called me in and we started off trotting around the entire perimeter of the ring. Anthony explained that we were going to work on forward work vs collecting like we had the day before. His reasoning was that the work the day prior had most likely made Annie sore (which it did) so he wanted to work on extending her body vs contracting it.

The idea behind the lesson wasn't about asking her to be on the bit - it was about pushing her into steady contact and asking her to move in front of the leg and staying in that pace until I gave another cue.

She's adorable. <3
We found that she was less willing to move out to the right and if I posted on the wrong diagonal, she was able to move out a bit more. It was confusing to her tho, because pushing her for a bigger trot often caused her to bound into a rolling canter. Anthony directed me just to bring her back and start over - don't make any big changes and don't over-correct her for trying to figure out what I was asking.

It made me shockingly aware as to how little I practice "lengthening" or moving out. Typically, I am working hard to slow Annie down, which in a way, has consumed a lot of my schooling time. Annie snaked her head up as I closed my legs around her and attempted to protest a handful of times before complying and moving out readily.

Practicing our forward response.
I would start asking at the start of the poles and would need a
response by the end of the poles.
It was a very messy lesson, as whenever I closed my leg and asked her to move out, our steering would suffer with the speed. The one thing we have continuously found with the lessons was as I push her forwards, she would strike off and drift to the left. This is exactly where a lot of our canter lead issues come from - pushing her forward into the canter causes a left drift which in turn causes a wrong lead (right lead issues hellloooo).

The trot to the left was more stiff than to the right, especially during the "extension". For the first few laps when we were establishing forward, Anthony kept asking for more. It was interesting because it felt like we were flying at the trot, and Anthony called out that Annie was probably only trotting about 75% of her athletic ability. Which, is kind of cool? She didn't really know how to use herself tho, which is understandable. A lot of the under-powered trot came from lack of education - mare found it easier to canter than extend her legs out. Which, me too, horse... me too.

A nice balanced canter. You will note she is stretching her
hind end quite hard - those little pivots are working :) 
We finished the lesson with some trot poles and jumping - it felt much better than the previous month's lesson. The forward work really helped, as it made Annie more honest to my leg and made her carry herself vs me squeezing the life out of her every stride.

Some of the main points of the lesson:

  • When working on collection/slow, it's important to work on extension/fast work to stretch the horse out a bit.
  • Don't avoid things that are difficult (ie. going fast ruins our steering). Work on the pieces and start to put them together - but don't avoid them.
  • Straight lines to the jumps, practice obedience and ensure you turn in enough time. You don't want to have to over-correct when you are coming up to a jump, especially when the jumps get higher.
  • Practice all kinds of different figures - loops, circles, etc.
  • Pick a spot in the arena to ask her to move forward (in this case we chose jump standards and poles), and once you pass it, the horse should have already responded.
  • Don't change things - when you head to the trot poles, just steer. Don't push, don't pull, don't do anything but steer. That's all you need to do!
Good little bean.
Overall, a really good lesson that was difficult but it brought up some really good points. Lots of things I need to work on and lots of things I need to start incorporating into my rides. The jumping felt so much better, just having Annie be more forward and feel committed to the jump vs me continuously asking her to be committed. 


  1. Sounds like a great clinic! Lots of good takeaways. I totally avoid things that are difficult so that bulletpoint made me laugh a bit haha

  2. You mean there are people out there who intentionally work on the hard things to get better? 🙈 Haha. Sounds like some good work and useful takeaways, I'm glad you had a successful clinic!

  3. i really like this clinician - he always seems to have a lot of good insights combined with realistic and actionable ways to improve the ride. annie looks great!

  4. What great takeaways. I found myself scribbling down a few of them to remind myself to work on!

  5. very cool and how great that you guys are doing so well. I can still remember the layers of snow you had :) And i am so guilty of not pushing the horse forward into contact. UGH always need a reminder on that!

  6. Isn't that interesting, to go slower and more collected, work on the exact opposite. Of course! LOL You guys look more amazing all the time.