Thursday, May 2, 2019

Derek Huget Clinic: Day 2

Just hanging out.
Make no mistake, to the right of the screen there were
several geldings hanging their heads over the fence, waiting
and watching, lol.
The horses both did pretty well overnight, although I had one of the barn workers state she was nervous about Spud being in the pen with Annie, as I guess Annie kicked out a few times. Throughout the evening on Saturday I had nearly 5 different people checking them and although Annie was alert and power walking in some of the videos I was sent, she certainly didn't appear to be outwardly frustrated. I imagine the influx of horses hanging their heads over the fence was a bit overwhelming for both sides of the fence, and the inclusion of mare hormones probably didn't help.

Regardless, everyone made it out alive and I received a text at 7:30am that both horses were quietly munching hay. When I arrived just after 1pm, both horses were casually wandering the paddock, and both seemed to be in good spirits.

That forward transition tho.
Next time tho, I have already decided what I'd like to do differently. The paddocks in the back run along the front sections of pasture for boarding horses and the only times I saw my two get amped up, was when the barn workers drove into the fields to feed (which would in turn cause the boarded horses to get excited/ gallop). In the future, I'm going to either leave Spud at home or pen them separately, just for my peace of mind. And then, I'm going to pen Annie in the front section of the barn (the pen beside where she was boarded back in January last year). There will still be interaction with the horses in the one pasture, but it will be limited, as the hay for the boarded horses is on the other side of the pasture (near where Annie and Spud were this past weekend).

Not that I *need* to, but it would make things less stressful for me, lol. The horses did good, and I was happy to see they both seemed content.

Until I went to go grab Annie from the paddock. I pulled her out and I could almost feel how electric she felt. Her eyes were wide, she was snorty, and very flighty.

I ignored it, and tied her to the trailer. She danced around, started pawing, swinging her haunches around and kept slamming into the end of her leadrope. It really didn't help that Spud started screaming for her the instant we left the paddock. Thanks, Spud.

She was given a few good smacks and boots to the gut while I got ready, but I mostly ignored her hijinks. Once I placed some hay in front of her, she settled marginally but still whipped her head around and acted like a giant idiot.

I tacked up without a problem and let her stand tied to the trailer until the last possible second to work out her feelings before wandering into the barn. She spooked hard at the feed trailer and ATV as we passed, which caused the poor girl in the ring's horse to spook also. I called out an apology and continued to lead into the upper portion of the indoor arena.

Slowly but surely getting it <3
She's a weird horse tho, because as soon as I got on, she was like "Oh, I'm actually really tired."

We mostly walked, as I realized I miscalculated the time and Derek had gone for a short 15 minute break. We played with some trot, but mostly left it alone because I knew Annie was exhausted and another grueling 45 minute lesson would be torture if I used up what she had left in the tank.

Derek came out from his break and one of the first things he said was, "She must've been playing around all night because she certainly isn't arguing with you today."

I laughed and replied, "Well, she had a buffet of handsome boys rotating along her paddock all night."

We got straight to work, applying the same principles as the day previous, except there was a lot less resistance from Annie. She still popped above the contact as a means to evade, but I found that "babying" her each step helped her hold and understand the concept. Derek explained that because she is weak, she can't hold herself together and that "hand holding" her isn't a bad thing at this stage.

Pictured: some hand holding.

Some tidbits I gleaned from Day 2:
  • Derek had us work mostly in posting for this ride, and had us in a very forward trot. Annie bounded into canter multiple times, but the idea was that a more active trot will unlock the back more than a slow, toe-dragging trot.
  • I should be encouraging her to stretch down as much as she can. While she may hit "good enough" in some circumstances, asking for her to go above and beyond that marker is essential.
  • We rode over trot poles in the one corner multiple times and holy heck, she was stepping so beautifully over them it nearly bounced me out of the saddle! I do need to remember to approach them straight, and to encourage her to trot (see point 1: ACTIVE TROT) actively; forward forward forward!
  • We found that when I raise my hands, Annie will raise her head in response. Derek had me ride with my hands quite low, nearly touching the saddle. It felt weird to me, but Annie was much happier.
  • There is a missing link between the trot-canter cue (which I eluded to in my Day 1 post), essentially that when I put my leg on to ask for canter, Annie will actually slow her tempo down before picking up the canter (which is why she can pick up the wrong lead. The moments hesitation leads to her favoring the opposite leg). We worked on this a bit, and found that when I just pushed her out into a faster trot until she rolled into canter, she had no problems picking it up smoothly and correctly.
  • Derek mentioned our Day 1 trot was too slow for Dressage, and our Day 2 trot was too fast. We did utilize about 10 minutes of the lesson playing around with our "Dressage trot".
  • "Do you feel the swinging?"
  • At one point I was getting frustrated - Annie kept bobbling above the bit and I had to work extra hard to keep her contained. Derek simply smiled and said, "It's frustrating because she's figuring it out."
All in all, it was much more progress than Day 1 (however, I have no media from Day 2 so... you'll have to settle for more Day 1 Gifs, lol) and although Annie was wiggling above the bit and trying to figure out what the heck was going on, I felt like she was starting to really understand what I was wanting from her.

Derek reminded me to ride her lower for a majority of my rides, and even commented that whilst trail riding, asking her to lower and lift would be beneficial. In fact, as the lesson finished, he looked at me and Show Buddy and said,  "Now, if Show Buddy sees you riding around, it better be low and round. Otherwise, she is allowed to kick your butt!" Duly noted!

I felt pretty good with the lessons tho... until I watched the lesson right after us (the horse is a year younger, and certainly much more schooled). I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me feel a bit inadequate, especially because there was a comment or two made by a bystander that made me and Annie feel a bit... lacking. Which, is silly.... we are all on our own journeys and we are all working on different things. I deliberately did not blog about the clinic for a few days because I wanted to get my mind back in gear and be able to appreciate the work we accomplished without allowing my brain to spoil it over something so trivial and silly. 

I feel much better about it after letting everything sink in for a few days - things are chugging along, and although it's quite slowly, haha, we are still making forward progress and there are still so many things to be happy about. 


  1. I just have to comment again how impressed I both look so fantastic! Annie is very fancy! :) I think you should be super proud. I'm sorry there were a couple of comments that brought you down a bit - so unnecessary! Remember it's often just their own insecurities and ignorance showing.

    1. I appreciate your comments, T <3
      I walked out of those lessons feeling great (yes, there was some frustrations in the lesson, but we worked thru them and came out the other side)... But then during the drive home I sat there, clutching the steering wheel, thinking about those little nattering comments and let them get the best of me.

      I initially wasn't going to include the tidbit of my insecurities in the blog, but I felt it was important to show that while we are making strides in our relationship, there are still moments where we both falter.

  2. I look at these gifts and I see a horse and rider combination that have developed so much inthe last year. Annie’s trot looks incredible. You need to be proud of what you have accomplished.

    I agree with T about the comments. I used to get down on myself and/or feel I had to defend myself. Now I ignore. We are all on our journey. If it helps, I am envious that you can hop on Annie and ride bareback around the neighbourhood. I cannot do that. Yet. And Carmen is 9.

    1. Thank you, Teresa!

      Like I said in the above reply, I was pretty dang happy coming out of those lessons. Sometimes tho, you let judgement cloud your vision a bit.

      And you are so right - we are all on our OWN journey. What works for one pair may not work for another, and as equestrians we all need to respect that.

  3. dont listen to others they are probably jealous of how nice a mare you have!! Most people that say stuff like that have a motivation other than just chit chatting! :)
    And I think Annie is just where she needs to be in her schooling. Those horses that are younger and schooled a bunch more (albeit may be fancier at this moment) often become sour later in life. Enjoy the ride!

    1. The one comment was directed at how... not nice of a horse she is, lol. Which, is fine. Not all horse personalities and people personalities mesh well. But, I do know my mare enough to know that the hustle and bustle of a boarding barn is not a typical sight, and while I don't excuse her misbehavior (esp at the trailer), I can identify it and understand why it happens.

      Having a clinic at your home barn is convenient, and there is also less external pressure because for you and your horse - it's pretty much just another day. And for me and Annie, it wasn't. And that's OK too.

      I agree - I think Annie has needed this time to grow (mentally and physically). If she had been sold to a more ambitious owner or stable, I think she would have fizzled out pretty quickly.

  4. She looks sooooo good! You seriously have nothing to be ashamed about, you guys look incredible!

    1. Thank you, Carly!
      I'm quite proud of her and I - we've managed to get there, little by little!!

  5. You guys are so far ahead of where you were last year! SO FAR! The other horse probably works all through winter, where you aren't able to. I'm sorry if someone made a catty comment directed toward you. People can be jerks. Just keep on keeping on, you're doing a wonderful job with Annie.

  6. Ditto here about any comments you heard. Other people's opinions don't matter and they are rude to even say anything that can be overheard. Nobody knows someone else's situation and they have no right to be catty about a horse or rider. I'm guessing that they're not very popular in their own barn. When we boarded in a lot of different places there was always the (one or two jerks) who had something to say about everything. And they were always wrong. Just mean spirited.

    That said you and Annie have come a long way from the day you got her. She's looking fabulous and you're both learning how to get to where you want to be. Personally, I like to take it slowly with any horse in training because if you push them too fast they become machines who don't think or problem solve for themselves. Keep doing what you're doing and make sure you both have fun in the process. And give Spud a hug and kiss from me.

  7. i'm super far behind right now but wanted to come back and comment that you guys really do look great. it's been a long road with Annie and you've put in a lot of work to get her where she is now. nobody else can ever take that away from you!