Monday, April 15, 2019

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 1

And just like that, the first clinic of the season (for us) is already over. I remember looking at my calendar in February, lamenting that April was so far away and we'd have to wait months before lessons again. And then in the blink of an eye, April came and before I knew it, it was clinic time!

Long-time readers will be no stranger to this particular clinician - I've taken a dozen lessons from him with Annie and had taken twice that in my pre-Annie days. Anthony is blunt, but fair, and has a killer sense of humor that may seem mean, but has a lick of truth to it. I really enjoy my rides with him because he has a sensible approach that makes riding seem so easy (well, it is easy when you remember to just ride your horse). He is great a reading the horses and applying why things did or didn't work for them and he's helped me so much with Annie in the last two years.

Many pats for a good mare.
I was excited, but nervous for this clinic, as I begrudgingly remembered our first clinic with Anthony last year. Yanno, the one where Annie just could not horse and ended up kicking me in the thigh when I sent her out to lunge, became a hot-unwilling-to-steer-mess, broke boards down in the stalls overnight, and then kinda redeemed herself on Day 2 but was a giant cu next Tuesday for the farrier?

Ya, that one.

It would be a bit of an interesting day regardless, because I had Cedar's final puppy class that morning (which took place in the same town, and was actually right across the street from the riding grounds). So, I had to figure out how I was going to approach my lesson - do I haul out, do the puppy class first (leave Annie at the grounds in the stall she had such a "problem" with last year), and then ride after? Or do I ride super early in the morning, and then stick a tired Annie in the stall while I go to puppy class? Or, do I drive out twice to avoid the conflict of the stall altogether?

In the end, I told myself the experience in the stall would be beneficial and since it would not be a prolonged stay, it would be good to "practice". Of course, I brought Spud along for moral support bc he's the #bestpony.

That *was* a ten stride, haha.
And so, I signed myself up as the very first rider for Saturday morning at 8:30am. Which, isn't necessarily that early, but when you have a 45 minute drive ahead of you, it kinda sucks, haha.

Regardless, we all arrived in one piece and both horses loaded and unloaded just fine. Annie was a bit snorty at the grounds, but I just ignored it (bc #zenninja), and was happy to see she was munching her hay despite obviously feeling curious about where we were and why. Spud, as always, was delighted to have his grazing muzzle off and practically inserted his entire face through the hay net holes.

Annie was a bit of an ass and kept pivoting her body into Spud, so I kept pushing her back over. She didn't attempt to kick or try to bulldoze him like last year, which was good. She was a bit wiggly to tack, but for the most part stood quiet.

Did I mention it was freezing cold and raining?

Oh, I didn't?

Yah. It was fucking cold.

No, the video isn't grainy. That's rain. Lots and lots of rain.
I threw a spare saddle pad over my saddle, in attempts to keep rain from accumulating while I finished getting ready. And once I was, we headed over to the mounting block which was #veryscary since several spare jump standards had blown over in the wind and were laying like a stack of dominoes on the ground. Annie snorted, went slightly feral, and then was like "oooooh, they are just standards" as I picked them up, one by one.

And then I realized I forgot my crop. So, back to the trailer. Grab crop, back to the mounting block. And of course, as I swung a leg over, my bottom and thighs soaked up allllll the rain that had splattered over my saddle in those 3 minutes.

I went to go warm up in the ring, but found all the gates locked and decided to just warm up in the grass area instead of dismounting and going into the ring bc #lazy. Annie felt alright, it took a minute or two for her brain to get engaged but she felt ready to work and didn't take long to feel "good to go". We didn't canter on the grass, because I have flash-backs to slipping on ice and didn't want to chance it with the accumulation of rain the ground had received all night.

A diagonal set of trot poles.
Anthony was ready for us anyways, so we plodded into the ring and went over what Annie and I had been up to so far this year (not much, haha) and how much jumping we had done (none).

Here is a good mix of comments and pointers Anthony gave us:

A more active canter/trot transition. Still not great, but better
than what we started with!

  • I have a love affair with my left rein. Even while turning right, I hang on the left rein. Going left is even worse, as I overflex her to the inside. We worked a lot on keeping that hand neutral and instead of flinging her head around, Annie became really agreeable and quiet in the hands. It felt weird tho, because she felt like she was motorcycle turning but nope, she was just straight instead of bulged to the inside.
  • The flexion "feels" right because Annie is short on her left side vs her right. He asked that when I ride right, to encourage her to stretch her left side.
  • My leg is much quieter. I don't have them engaged for every stride and they did zero nagging. Hooray.
  • I need to practice bringing her poll up vs having her in a "deep" Dressage frame. He commented that the Dressage frames have a place and time, but that I need to ride her in a varying amount of frames so I can learn to control and ride all of them.
  • We still have a minor steering on the right lead. My reaction is to sit deep, tighten the inside rein and push with the outside leg to get her out and off. We worked quite a bit on having me sit up, squeezing the outside rein to keep her straight instead of drifting left, and the outside leg to push her back into the circle.
  • She is very tentative in her canter-trot transition. Work on being able to bring her to trot without having to collect the canter up so much and Anthony commented that he wanted Annie to be BOLD as heck in her trot. We worked quite a bit on bringing her to trot and having her GO.
  • Slow does not equal forward. That nice, quiet trot I like to keep her at around the ring? It isn't a an active jumping trot. He wanted me to ride her as if we were actively going somewhere. One of his comments was that I need to make the gait "interesting" and "educational". Meaning - we aren't just plodding along on a Sunday afternoon. We're going somewhere, doing something and we have a purpose. Kind of like last year when he asked me to ride her bolder.
  • Let her be green to fences. You don't need to over-ride, you don't need to discipline her for looking (she should be looking at the fences), and wiggling is OK . Just be there to support and trust in your position and the discipline of your riding.
  • Keep her straight after the jump.
  • Do not completely sit between the fences - he commented that when I sit on her, I sit quite defensively and not only does it impedes the forward motion Annie has, but it also makes my position suffer because I don't get into an active 2 point quick enough. He suggested I ride instead in a modified 3 point. 
Annie really woke up once we started jumping, and at one point we had to do a few figure eight loops to get a working trot back since Annie was verrrry excited, haha. When two other horses showed up for their lesson, she became a little unfocused and hot, but was still manageable. 

Overall though, it was a really good lesson and we managed to ride our first set of bounces and I came out of it with nothing but positives. Yes, there are still things to work on (when is there not?), but I felt like we were finally prepared for the questions being asked and Annie met me more than halfway for a multitude of them. 

I was happy to get out of the saddle at the end of the lesson tho, because I was soaked. The rain had made its way through my jacket, hoodie, and tshirt. Thankfully, I was smart enough to pack extra clothes, but not smart enough to pack an extra jacket or hoodie... So I changed out of my soaking breeches and chose to wander around in the moderately wet hoodie. 

Anthony worked us up to a set of bounces  - we did
a good old fashioned one stride here.
Good Bannie!
Before heading to puppy class, I put Spud and Annie up in the indoor so Annie could roll, and then tucked them into stalls with some hay. A friend that had come to watch me ride (and took the above videos!), sat with me in my truck while I warmed up, and cuddled Cedar (who was a very good boy). When my fingers didn't feel so numb and it was getting close to puppy class time, I did a final check on the horses (both seemed fine and Annie wasn't pacing back and forth like she did last year), and thanked my friend for stopping by in the less than idea weather before jetting across the road.

Cedar's class went well, for those interested, and he has gotten a bit braver with bigger/more bouncy dogs. He passed his class and got to wear a ridiculous graduation hat that he hated, haha.


And another cool thing?

Annie was standing quiet, leg cocked when I pulled up to load them.

Spud was sad he was mostly out of hay, because I literally threw him one handful, haha.
Annie was happy to see me though!


  1. The weather sounds awful, but I'm so obsessed with that backdrop. It's so pretty up there!

    1. Thankfully, on Day 2 the weather was much more agreeable!

  2. ditto what Carly said about the backdrop - your part of the world is so gorgeous! i also love reading the recaps from this clinician, he always seems to have really useful exercises and feedback for you, including stuff that's easy to take home and work on by yourself. glad Annie was so good!

    1. We are surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountainscapes in our province! This particular venue has features such a beautiful backdrop when riding in the outdoor.

      Yes, Anthony is one of my favorites. He is very thought provoking, yet simple, which makes it easy to apply his methods. Of course, sometimes it's hard to apply the methods from horseback because you can't see yourself from the ground.

  3. Sounds like a really fantastic lesson (other than the miserable weather)! Annie's really grown up a lot in the past year, and you guys are doing great!

    1. It was so miserable, haha. Hilariously enough, the rain subsided about an hour after my lesson and the remainder of the lessons that day were showered in golden sunshine. Just my luck, right?! Haha.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful and very productive clinic despite the miserable weather. Ick! So many good tips and pointers. I feel like 99% of riders rely on their left rein too much. I know a dressage trainer whose business motto might as well be, "Give left." It's true and it works though! I laughed when I saw that a love affair with the left rein made your list in this post.

    1. I always love my rides with this clinician. He's very thought-provoking that's for sure!

      Haha, I see I'm not alone in that love affair then!

  5. You're both looking fantastic. Youre doing such a good job with Annie! Cedar is the cutest, too <3

    1. Thank you, T<3 All of our hard work feels like it's finally paying off, haha! I mean, we still have so many things to work on, but it's the fun stuff we get to work on now :)

  6. That is an excellent start to your year! I too have a love affair with my left rein. And i overbend that way. So you are not alone. Also, ugh the weather. You both did good to deal with that. I would be stiff and frozen

    1. Yes, it was a really good clinic!

      Thankfully the weather was much better on Day 2, haha.

  7. What a great clinic! You got a lot accomplished and have some great pointers to work on at home

  8. Annie has grown up so much! It sounds like you had a really great day with both youngesters-in-training. Congrats to Cedar on his graduation lol!

    1. Right?! Maybe 6, going on 7 is the magic age lol

  9. Sounds like the weather was the worst part of the day which in a lot of ways is awesome because the clinic sounded great!

  10. Sounds like a really amazing lesson! Annie is gorgeous and Cedar is adorable :)