Friday, July 20, 2018

Spud Does Canada Day and Other Things Too!

Poor Spud has been neglected on this blog!

Never fear tho, because the potato pony has been busy being ponied, giving my 5 year old nephew driving lessons, doing some endurance drives, and partaking in our town's Canada Day parade!

He was his usual professional self and didn't even mind my nephew hurtling handfuls of candy from the cart at people alongside the parade route. 

Endurance day with the nephew, who insisted we "go fast, Auntie!"

Heading to the Canada Day parade festivities!

Not only did the pony that was with us in the parade think Spud was
terrifying for pulling a cart, he also thought Spud was EXTRA
terrifying with all the decor hanging off of him, haha. 
My nephew loves this horse - I can't blame him!

Such a good pony, just chilling out while sirens blare and music blasts!

An awkward photo from the parade, haha.

Trying to halt at the last minute for the boyfriend's mom to take a photo.
Unfortunately, both of our timing was off!

Doing a fancy trot bc he's a badass.

The very best boy <3

Probably my favorite entire photo of him ever. Hahaha.

Mr. Professional doing his thing <3

Post-Canada Day endurance drive.
Parents in the subdivision have taken to putting up signs warning
drivers to slow down. It spooked the shit out of Annie. Spud could care less.

Just the happiest of clams!
What a good boy!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Feeling Forward

Thank you to everyone who chimed in on my last post! A lot of it is advice I have been trying to implement, and it's good to know those who have tried this advice and stuck with it have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, haha! I realize there is a large divide on the whole "whip or spurs" debate, and I will have to do some playing around to see what works best for us.

Annie says: "Ya thanks, thanks a lot guys"
To catch myself up in all the happenings around here, I gave Annie the Tuesday off and rode her both Wednesday and Thursday before the Ride a Test/Fix a Test and show weekend. 

On Wednesday, to keep things light and simple, I opted to go for a trail ride. I have mentioned previously that I haven't had the chance to take her on any difficult or technical trails this year simply because the technical trails are across a river. That may not seem like a huge deal, except the Spring run off from the mountains cause serious flooding which makes these trails inaccessible and unsafe until they level out and drop, which typically is mid-Summer.

Attentive ears. Not attentive to her feet tho, haha.
Typically, we stick to the wider 4x4 trails that have more firmer footing and have minimal "questions". Which, is fine. But the trails across the river are narrower, have areas where the river bank has been sloughed off due to flooding, overgrown due to lack of use, and have unfortunate ruts from off-road vehicles.

Annie is pretty sensible on the trail, but is often not very brave when going out alone. She tries to hurry herself along to get it over with and instead, ends up forgetting to pay attention to her feet and trips, slips, and then in turn attempts to flail faster. It has been pretty typical of her with trails - when we hit areas solo-style she is very unsure until we have visited a few times.

Some areas that have ruts - as the trail progresses,
the space between the tire marks is the only walkable
part and horses feel like they are walking a tight rope when they
try to scale it, haha.
What was meant to be a very quiet and calm solo ride out into the big, bad wilderness quickly turned into huge frustration when our black dog, Roxy, absolutely refused to cross a slightly flooded swimming hole. Ella, our other dog (the foster fail who needs a post made, lol) who hates water dove right in and followed, but Roxy just refused.

Attempting to ride a horse that is noping the entire situation and trying to coerce a bull-headed dog to follow is an easy way to get the rage meter building. And for what it is worth, Annie was pretty damn good when I asked her to wander back and forth across shore to entice Roxy to follow (no beuno), stand quietly as I screamed at Roxy (who turned her head away and pretended not to hear me), and crossed the water a few times back and forth trying to get the damn dog to follow us.

This isn't the swimming hole. This was DEEPER than the
swimming hole and the fucking dog had no problemo going through it.
Anyways. I ended up dismounting, throwing the dog in the saddle, remounting and wandering back across the water.

So, props to Annie for that.

We finally got to start our ride after twenty minutes fucking around with the dog.

Heading back. Her head started to lower and she started to relax more.
The ride itself was pretty good. Annie got a little fast in her walk, which part of me was like "YAY FORWARD" and part of me was like "Jesus take the wheel because if we slip in this mud again we are gonna fucking die". But overall it wasn't too bad.

She gets nervous about mud, especially in the lovely mud puddle at the bottom of an eroded hill we had to scale... I sat back, held onto some mane and let Annie figure her way through it. It kinda went like this:

Annie: *studies mud, pokes tentative hoof in, withdraws hoof, offended*
Me: "It's alright, you can do it."
Annie: *lifts brow* "It seems unsafe." *Tip toes closer*
Me: *Urges Annie forward* "You'll live."
Annie: *Dances at edge before hurtling herself forwards, not paying attention to where her feet go and thus, slips in mud. In response, hurls herself up the rest of the hill*
Me: *thinking "Ok wow... we almost died"*

Post trail - "K. You can dismount now, specimen."
As a side note, I'm not 100% sold on this bridle on her. I'm not
a fan of the huge red tones on her and the noseband cheek pieces
creep to her eye quite a bit.
For the most part it was a relaxing ride, but Annie is very forward about trail riding in the scary bush alone and sometimes her inattention to her feet makes me a bit nervous. We did make it out unscathed and I did have to laugh at her at one point. If you looked at the trail from above, it would look like a giant letter "P" there is a definitive in and out area, but you do a little circle around and then meet back up to the trail before following the tail end of the "P" out. (Do I even make sense?). Annie was pretty sure the trail was an "O" shape and insisted heading back to the towards the old trail was very wrong. She didn't balk, but did try to casually turn around to help me find my way home. I appreciated her efforts, but the way she was going was actually no longer horse accessible (because at one point, it WAS a complete circle.

Thankfully, when we went to head home and cross the swimming hole, Roxy followed quietly.

She IS pretty cute tho


Don't they look like happy donkeys?
The next day I headed out wanting to school in the ring and work on our forward button. I felt pretty happy given the fact Annie was willingly forward during our trail ride and was hoping it would transfer into the ring.

Part of me was not sure about riding her the day before a clinic and show, but I figured with heading on vacation the following week, it wouldn't hurt. I like to mix it up with my horses in terms of schooling and hacking, and I do like to be fair and give them days off. I know Annie might not technically 'need' days off, but it's something I just like to do. I'm not the kind of person to ride 7 days a week, especially on a young horse that could use time to absorb education and just relax. I like having relaxing days too, haha.

Plus, we've been pretty damn busy this year. Between professional training, lessons, clinics, horse shows, schooling, etc it's been hectic. The past two weekends in a row we've done clinics and they were pretty tough for both Annie and I. So adding another weekend of activity was just... a lot. I was getting burnt out myself, so I couldn't imagine Annie's #feelings.

The best of friends!
I did end up riding because I figured with leaving on vacation for 9 days, Annie would get her rest and reward soon enough. (FWIW, two days after the show Annie ended up giving herself some rope burn whilst dragging the lunge line grazing in the front yard (like we have done since I bought her) sooo she got an early vacation. She is OK and I am hoping by the time we leave on Saturday she is mostly back to her old self. I am both kicking and blaming myself tho... sigh, horses).

OK, so back to the ride.

When we started out, mare was FORWARD. She wasn't bolty or scooty, just was marching and had somewhere to go damnit! The ride itself was actually super productive and followed the theme of forward. I didn't ride with spurs on this ride and literally only had to boot her in the ribs once. I was quite happy with her efforts and had to laugh a few times because our canters were verrrrry forward.

Like, mare was afraid of getting booted so she was like "YES MA'AM LET'S GO".

This isn't our schooling ride. It's our hack from the day
before. We definitely did not ride through the river that much, haha.
The map isn't 100% accurate.
I played with letting her open her stride instead of trying to shut her down since she was trying and ended up shortening her on the short strides and then opening her back up on the long sides. We had a few wrong leads on the left side but after I gave her a boot to smarten up she picked them up just fine and she was happy to move along. I struggled to keep her connected to the bit, but ended up abandoning that idea and instead just kept a good contact on the reins. The rest will follow once we  get this forward thing figured out!

It was a pretty low key ride and I quit without pushing too much - our rides to the ring are already 20 minutes of walking each way so we played with 20 minutes of walk, 10 minutes of trot and 5 minutes of canter. Hilariously, the length of the ride ends up being the same as when we do clinics, but over an hour of it was spent walking on this day whereas during clinics, our other gaits are used much more. 

One day I will have my own ring right outside my barn, haha!

Something kind of neat I've noticed (which shouldn't surprise me!), is that our down transitions have become so much nicer since going forwards. It's kind of interesting because you'd think slow means steady, but it really doesn't work that way!

Heading home from the ride, I was kind of excited to head to the show, hoping that we magically just fixed our forward button. Of course, that's not how things usually go, but the small child in me wanted to believe.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wading With Questions

The dogs enjoyed walking 8-10km every day, haha.
Following the Anthony clinic, as I eluded to in the last post, I went for a trail ride with N and AJ before disappearing to visit the Boyfriend.

The trail ride was very welcomed, as it is always nice to just head out of the ring, clear the head and just wander amongst the trees and trails. Annie was happy to lead almost the entire time, and was quite unhappy when I asked Nicole to take over the lead (to practice Annie being in the backseat for a bit). I don't mind her having opinions about being behind, because she mostly just marches forwards like her life depends on it (y not in the ring tho, horse?) and will ride up poor AJ's butt.

Being the leader is fun.
The one thing I do not like is that this horse is soooo not sure-footed, haha. This trail had a lot of divets from the quads that frequent it and a variety of different textures (sand, mud, logs, etc) and I have mostly only trail ridden Annie on wider, flatter, and less 'technical' trails before. Which, is fine, but when she is just marchin on (bc we are last oh my god), she tends to forget that mud is slippery and uh... we will both go down Captain.

Thankfully, we both stayed upright and I was happy the trail was finally open for use and made a mental note to frequent it more often. Typically, the trails across the river will only open once the river goes down. It usually happens end of June/early July once the snow from the mountains tapers off and the extra accumulated water disappears. Otherwise, it's a good swim across and I have no interest in trying to swim a baby horse in a very sandy area that has a reputation for sloughing off at the edges (remember how Suzie and I got stuck in the sand? yup, same place).

Following AJ - it took some convincing we could
walk this far behind and still be ok, haha.
The mini vacay was well timed, because I was struggling to remain positive and struggling to keep plugging away at Annie's newfound (altho, is it really that new if it has always been there but not necessarily hugely problematic until recently???) evasion and it really kinda bummed me out.

The writing has been on the walls since I've owned her tho, and I just never headed the warning. Which, I guess is a "normal" thing to do with a young horse and a "green" to green horses rider... But still, I can't help but feeling like I messed up pretty bad and it kinda crimps my riding mojo.

I've avoided the horse and avoided the "fights" simply because they aren't fun.

But, how do you fix something if you don't practice or work on it?

Which is why as soon as I got home, I was back on the horse the next day.

We might not have forward, but at least we look good?
In a jump pad and all!
Being a whiney baby doesn't get anyone anywhere, and while I am sure my friend's want to remind me how melodramatic and silly I am being (which, rational part of me knows this), it's time to pick up the pieces and start working on the tangible and educated advice I have been given over the last few weeks.

I went into those clinics knowing we had a lack of forward and got some good advice. So now, it's up to me to push myself to use that advice, be practical and methodical and just fucking DO IT.

So on Sunday I went out and did a schooling ride on Annie with N and AJ. Someone in our area had put out little "slow down" sandwich board signs and it spooked the crap out of Annie, but we did make it past without any theatrics.

I initially had intended to do a short, stretchy ride, but when we got to the ring and I went to canter on the left lead, Annie decided that half way through the circle she'd keep doing flying changes and suck back to the lower half of the ring (where AJ was). Granted, she had had 6 days off so I get that she reverted back to #freshlybrokebabyhorse status but like... can we NOT be herd-bound and try to evade work?

Several attempts to circle brought on the lead change and there was nothing I could do (or think of doing) to stop her. Mare was opinionated and was trying her hardest to let me know we should be heading aaaaa thataaaa way.

We worked on our trot and canter primarily, and I did have to boot her a few times around the ring to keep her motoring. A few times I was suckered into riding how I did before, but quickly reminded myself and got back to work. It felt like endless boots to the ribs at some points and I got pretty fricken frustrated. But like... hooray for her being a good bean after 6 days off, haha?

Annie says, might as well give me another six, lady.
Nicole ended up bringing AJ into the middle of the ring and we cantered endless circles around him before cantering away from him and doing circles without swapping the leads. I ended after a particularly good circle, praised her and we headed back home.

Monday I headed out again, this time ponying Spud. We had a pretty decent ride in the arena and I had ended up wearing spurs. I don't necessarily want to wear them all the time or rely on them, but I feel like maybe this will be a good tool to help us? It's tough to tell, and I try to ride as much as I can without them.

It was a shorter ride than Sunday's and I felt like she gave me some good work in between moments of being sticky. I still felt frustrated and sighed internally when a friend of mine who was planning a horse show messaged me and told me she was low on entries and could I please enter.

Support horse shows.
Support friends.
I love supporting horse shows, especially the local ones, because they are a tough thing to do and it takes a lot of planning. This particular show would be a schooling show with the opportunity to ride a test and "fix a test" with the judge the day before. I decided to go for it, because if anything, the mini-lesson with the judge would be super beneficial. I may not have a forward horse, but maybe she had more information to glean that I could use?

So, I accepted and sent in my entries for HCBC Training Level 1-3 and booked myself a Ride A Test/ Fix A Test Training Level 2 with the judge the day before.

With all of this being said, does anyone have any good exercises, tips, or tricks they've used with their forward-resistant horse? Did it get worse before it got better? How did you keep your horse "mostly" happy in their work while battling with the forward demons? I want to keep Annie as happy as possible, but some of our schools are going to be Tough Titties, mare. 

I have gone back in a few blogs to read comments and things, but would love to hear if anyone reading in particular has used spurs or if this is something I should avoid? Why/why not?

As always, thanks for reading and I appreciate/value everyone's insights! It takes a village!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sven Smienk Clinic: Day 2

This is how Annie felt about the new rules, haha.
I rode mid-morning on Day 2, which meant I was able to leave my horse trailer hooked up for the evening. It was convenient and I was able to hit the road with Annie at a decent hour, well ahead of schedule.

During the drive out there, I felt more reserved and less than excited to ride my mare. I enjoyed the instructor, but the particular lesson we were having felt very... basic and borderline embarrassing. There is something to be said for dumbing things down to the most simplistic of things and as a rider, it makes me feel very... unaccomplished and silly.

We did get some good moments!
She sure moves so much nicer when she's not being nagged
every single stride - much freer and less restricted.
It's the way she goes tho, and clearly Annie and I needed a second set of eyes to push us through it because we weren't overcoming it on our own anytime soon. The mare was beginning to become comfortable in just... not and I was becoming comfortable in just letting her not.

And the cycle needed to be broken.

With it tho, a sliver of self-esteem chipped off. It sounds so melodramatic to say, but I kicked myself (and continue to kick myself) for the lesson and for letting it get so bad that we needed to literally have a pony club kick-a-thon.

It's weird how altho she looks less schooled in terms of connection
to the bridle, she looks much more stronger and... elastic?
But, enough of the doldrums that young horses bring and it's important to remember that after this downswing, we will hit the upswing again. It's just that... horses suck sometimes and it can really affect your riding mojo when you get inside your own head. After this clinic, I trail rode once before disappearing to visit the boy for the better part of a week. During my visit, I avoided even thinking about the horse, and more specifically our forward problem... because running from your horsey problems and avoiding them is the best remedy. Sigh.

Anyone have a tiny violin?

Annie would like a tiny violin as well.
Note that hind leg reach!
The lesson itself was more productive than our first - we were able to make additional headway and start to piece together more parts of the puzzle, like asking Annie to start engaging herself and lowering her poll. I wasn't 100% keen on the way it was explained, but it's possible I misunderstood what the clinician was meaning or that because my lesson was so basic, I was given a very basic direction. I take it at face value tho, and part of me would love to take a few more lessons with Sven once we have our forward button reinstalled so I can get some "real" lessons and work on more than just the meat and potatoes that is riding.

Annie came out of the trailer nicely again, tied well, and quietly munched from her hay bag. She seemed more "up" than the previous day, but other than looking around more, she didn't do much.

Not the best balance (and whyyy am I grabbing
with my inside rein), but she's forward!
This lesson day also symbolized a super exciting day - my new Dressage saddle finally arrived!! Since October last year, I hemmed and hawed about the demos I got to try from Kelsey (yes, the same Kelsey who makes the clay ornaments is a saddle fitter now!). I finally settled on a Hastilow Concept Elevation Dressage saddle, but Kelsey took some additional measurements to make it more customized to both me and Annie.

It was a bit of a wait for the production to begin, as I scrounged up a down deposit and started to sell my other saddles I didn't need (ie. the Bates and Western that didn't fit Annie). Kelsey was amazing with me the entire time - she was super understanding that I couldn't dump $$$ on the saddle ASAP and took payments very leisurely over the course of 6 months. I appreciated the fact she worked with me like that, because I don't particularly like laying down a big sum of cash because it is often when other things go wrong.

For those curious, that's an AP pad, haha.
Since Kelsey was in town, we met up at Barn C and I arrived well before my ride time so she could adjust the flocking to Annie and we could make any other necessary adjustments. It fit pretty well, but required some additional flocking on the left panel (which we did after my lesson). I was super excited for the saddle and tried to play it down like everything was cool, but inside my stomach was flipping and I was SO excited to ride in it, haha. I'll need to get some new leathers and girth now to match as my Dressage gear when I had Suzie was already verrrry second hand (like... my leathers are flaking black bits and showing the brown underneath...).

Kelsey also gave me some samplers of Higher Standards leather soap and conditioner, as well as some oil. I have a container of some soap already, but never got to try the conditioner.

Once we got the saddle on, leathers and stirrups changed, we wandered over to the indoor and waited to be called in like the days previous. When we did, Sven did a double take in our direction and commented on our Dressage get up. I filled him in on the whole "dis is my new saddle!!" and he seemed pretty stoked to see I was in actual proper attire, haha. Unfortunately, I didn't plan my riding outfit well and it kind of clashed with my pad choice... sigh. C'est la vie, I guess.

We started out as we had the day previous. Some of the points to remember, and some of the things I found interesting:

  • She needs to learn to carry you and herself - you aren't asking for anything huge or unreasonable.
  • Horses who lack forward need things drawn in black and white, but at the same time, it's important to be careful when re-affirming the forward button. You don't want to create a resentful horse when re-teaching them what your leg means. (In a word, take no shit but be fair).
  • Things will be messy and ugly before they get better. It's part of the training process. Believe in it and persist.
This? This isn't feel ugly.

  • You ride your horse like an owner and you need to start riding her like a trainer. Owners get down and defeated about problems, trainers brainstorm and take the problem at face value and aren't afraid to go back to the basics to build things back up again. Don't be afraid to do just that.
  • When you ride a young horse, you have no choice but to be a trainer. You can't get frustrated and you can't avoid the problems. Face them, learn from them, and do better.
  • Sometimes when she does a down transition, you are expecting her to dump you and end up sitting too heavy/braced and she botches her transition. Try to be more in tune with her movements and let her carry you into the transition. Trust her a bit.
  • Ride TO YOUR LETTERS. (This was during a diagonal line that I kept turning too early for, haha). Be disciplined in your figures.

I found Sven to be incredibly practical and kind when it came to the fact Annie is still very green and young. He didn't pull any punches, but didn't make us feel like we were worthless or didn't belong in the ring. He made us work, but made me understand that young horses are fickle things and that sometimes we can't be a pet owner, we have to be someone who takes no bullshit. Zero tolerance, as it were.

So yah. It was a tough lesson to learn, not physically, but mentally. It really made me sit back on my ass and feel a pinch of self-pity, haha. I try not to bring my whining to the blog, but this particular set of lessons and problem we are currently facing have not been very fun. And sometimes, you have to do a bit of whining to get past it.

Wat are you doing inside rein, haha.
All things considered, despite the mare being downright PISSED about the new arrangement, she did try, and was (in a way) less pissed on this day about all of it. 

We did make progress... and that's all I can really ask for.

Plus, I have a pretty new saddle so... yay?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Sven Smienk Clinic: Day 1

Following the Anthony clinic, the Boy came home and things got a bit busy, so I didn't really get to ride Annie except for once before our second set of lessons the following weekend. Aside from ponying my nephew for the first time, Annie and I did end up going for a short hack to stretch our legs and worked a bit on forwardness before calling it quits.

Doesn't she look so enthused?
I had signed up for two days of a three day clinic with a dressage instructor from the lower mainland - he continually comes up to the area, but typically at a farm that is even farther away than Barn C. I never really was able to take lessons with this particular trainer due to the clinic always being full and the location - hauling back and forth would be a huge pain in the ass, especially tacking on another 30 minutes.

When the opportunity arose to ride with him at Barn C, I hesitantly opted to try it out. I'm always nervous to try new trainers, especially being that clinics can be quite costly and sometimes, they just aren't your cup of tea.

A few friends who audited one of his last clinics at Barn C earlier in the year urged me to try him out, so I decided to take them up on their assessments and decided not to audit him myself before going.

I signed up for both Friday and Saturday, just like I had for the Anthony clinic. Annie was great to haul, as per usual, and settled in quietly at Barn C and munched her hay while I got her tacked up and ready. It was raining on Friday, so I tacked up and then led her into the barn aisles to wait for our turn in the ring. She stood with moderate interest, and looked pretty damn cute doing it.

About to do real gud dressage in jump tack.
As the lesson before us dwindled down, Sven asked us to come in the ring and I led Annie over to the mounting block where she stood like a seasoned pro. Sven was very welcoming and kind, he put my mind at ease as we spoke about mine and Annie's training, difficulties, and triumphs. I went over in great detail our history and touched on the glaring hole in our training we seemed to be currently battling. I explained we had a lack of forwardness and that it had been an issue since I practically got the horse, but as time went on it seemed to get better, then worse, then better again. I made mention that the last two months our forward button really fizzled out and it was time now to address the issue and put it behind us for good (or mostly for good, haha).

Sven asked me a few other questions, like her breed and where I got her from. He then asked us to please go around the ring at all three gaits and show him how we currently ride - he explained it would give him a better understanding as to what kind of lesson plan he would use for me and see where we needed help the most. I tentatively marched Annie off and a smidge of dread filled me - I get hyper aware when people (especially trainers) watch me ride and almost forget how to ride and fumble around.

This is our "before" trot. Going nowhere fast...
and a very dumpy transition. Don't be fooled,
I am literally pushing her every single fucking stride.
I got my head back in the game a bit tho, and made no qualms about showing him just how poor our forward button was. I finished off cantering on the right lead and slowed, asking if he needed to see any more. He said no and called me to the middle where we talked about how the lack of forward was indeed an issue for us and that he'd like to address it and that it was going to mean going back to the very basics.

I did have to laugh a bit, because when I had first approached him at the middle of the ring, he folded his arms across his chest and kind of smirked and said, "Well, if you want to keep riding like that, you may as well get a stick horse because you are literally doing both jobs." He was a pretty cheeky clinician, and I enjoyed the little quips because they did remind me of Anthony.

We started out at the walk and Sven encouraged me to leave my legs off of her at all times and ONLY use them when I needed her to do something. At first, it was very difficult to literally leave my legs dangling and it caused Annie to falter her steps a few times (because somebody wasn't nagging her along). It reminded me of my rides with Anthony the weekend before, wherein he urged me to ride her bolder - it all was kind of falling into place here. Sven directed me, in this instance, to use a squeeze of the leg to push her forwards. If she didn't respond, my leg cue would be a touch of the heel and finally, a kick to the ribs. We would give her the opportunity to respond, but needed a response otherwise the stimulus would increase.

As a whole, this lesson was pretty much reminiscent of my 4-H days trying to trot an ornery 20 year old Quarter Horse mare around the ring. Legs flapping and flying everywhere and man oh man, was I EMBARRASSED.

And Annie? Annie was PISSED. I mentioned to Sven, "She feels very, very pissed." and he kind of laughed and said, "Well ya, she just came out of semi-retirement."

So, the tail was just a'going on the Bannie machine. She was NOT happy, not one bit. But, I do promise things settled by Day 2 and she was much more at peace with our new arrangement. I suppose I had to be prepared she'd have all the feelings.

The helicopter tail returns bc Bannie is PISSED.
However, you can also see the moment where around the
corner she sort of fizzled out and we went for a little lengthened
canter bc slowing down is a no no, Bannie.
Sven found that Annie had my number and would trot strongly after being booted but as soon as the leg came off, would falter and slow almost immediately. It was an interesting ride, because I so badly just wanted to go back to how we rode before because although it was a struggle bus of forwardness, we at least looked nice? But, I knew it wouldn't do us much good. This was the lesson we needed to have, even if I didn't want to have it.

Part of me was annoyed I didn't fix it sooner, because our lessons consisted of the very basics all weekend and I was paying for such a simple and easy fix. But... obviously I needed the lesson because I've gone three months without going ahead and doing it when Anthony first mentioned it in his April clinic. So... shame on me?

The lesson felt immensely messy, but it was a necessary messy. And I know for a fact I wouldn't have had the patience to kick along for 45 fucking minutes and get to a good place before ending.

The whole lesson was focused on forwards - not
bend, not contact, just forward.
There were a few times wherein I booted Annie forward for not listening to my leg and she gave no response. Whenever this happened, Sven instructed us to gallop. So, yanno, we galloped like out of control motorcycles for a good portion of the lesson too. #sogoodatdressage

By the end of the lesson, things were starting to piece together nicely and I could feel that Annie's wheels were starting to turn a bit. I still had to kick every several strides but I was starting to make things black and white instead of riding off into grey territory.

Overall, I enjoyed my lesson with Sven and he was a sympathetic and understanding teacher - I had mentioned a few times I was embarrassed and he simply shrugged and stated that once we had forward, the rest would fall back into place and be even easier for us. I knew he was right, but it was a hard pill to swallow.