Thursday, June 20, 2019

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 1

June brought about another Anthony clinic, and this time, I decided to do things a bit differently. Instead of riding both days, I opted to have Anthony ride her on the Saturday for a few different reasons. Mostly though, I wanted to see Annie go around with a professional on her back - because who doesn't love watching their own horse go around?

It was also a good opportunity for Anthony to really feel how she rides, and in turn, be able to play around with what works and what doesn't work, and to verbalize those findings back to me. As someone who has done most of Annie's training (aside from some help from the amazing Trainer K last Spring), it was an opportunity to see where we stacked up and where we were falling short. I trust Anthony's opinion and knew he wouldn't hold back. He is completely and utterly honest, which is also part of the reason why I didn't get him to ride her before. There was a bit of intimidation there, if I must admit, haha.

Anthony seemed a bit confused as to why I wanted him to ride Annie, but thankfully he humored me and climbed aboard, haha. I explained our recent cross-firing issues (once again, sigh), and a few other minor issues we've been battling (haunches tipping inwards, lack of connection through transitions... among a few other little things we've been working on). 

Some key points from Anthony's ride:

  • Overall, he stated I've done a good job with her - all the basics are there and she is receptive to the aids.
  • She does indeed like to tip her haunches in, which is evident at the walk and trot. This is where our missed canter leads and cross-firing comes from. I need to ensure stable outside rein connection.
  • She likes to move her rider in the saddle so they sit on their inside seat bones while she tips her haunches in, which makes it feel like an insignificant adjustment on her part. Need to stay straight and upright in the saddle.
  • She likes it when things don't change - she works quite well trotting around in a nice frame so long as there are no other questions being asked. Once you ask for leg yielding, or a circle, etc she'll pop above the contact or change her rhythm (Anthony said she'll change something) in response to the change of aids. He suggested that I change it up on her a lot. Ride an extended trot for four strides, collected for 5 strides, halt, etc. Lots of movement, lots of change of direction.
  • She likes to bulge her lower neck muscle when resisting the contact. Need to keep contact and encourage her to seek the bridle.
  • In regards to her cross-firing (which she did once for a whole two strides), Anthony stated that he believes the issue starts out minor before it comes to a head and that I simply miss the "warning signs" that it is about to become a bigger issue. (I had asked why every few months we have to duke out the cross-firing issue before she gets over herself).
  • Anthony also mentioned that he feels she is very weak overall. This kinda made me sad, because I've done so much work with her, but I did see what he was meaning. He stated he wasn't sure why she is such a slow developing horse, but gave me a few tips to see if they'd help (nutrition-wise). It's interesting though, because the new Vet we saw this past Spring had said Annie is a very slow maturing horse based off of her body structure. He mentioned that Second Level would be attainable, but down the road (when she is 10-12). It kinda hit me and has left me a bit bummed, but we'll do things at our own speed and keep puttering along. I've been told this exact thing by countless other professionals, so it isn't exactly a shock.
  • Riding her in a higher frame (2nd lvl frame) is hard for her - she naturally wants to carry herself downhill and onto her shoulders. Practice this, but not frequently.
  • He also mentioned (and I found this interesting), that he would not call Annie a hot horse. He stated that when she gets frantic/antsy, it's moreso to do with being nervous or unsure, but he wouldn't call her hot. He said, "This is a horse who wants to do the 2'6" hunters."

Overall it was a beneficial opportunity - it allowed for Anthony to actually feel how she rides and how she responds to different pressures. It gave me a few new tools, too, and an appreciation for my mare and her level of try.

And if anything, I was super excited to ride the next day!


  1. I believe that it is very useful for a coach to ride the horse every now and then to feel what is going on.
    My first thought on reading his comments was 'hey she sounds like Carmen'. who also likes to tip me on her outside so she can put her haunches in.

  2. I think that was a great idea to have Anthony climb aboard. And it sounds like you got some helpful insights.

  3. I love having professionals ride my horse. I learn so much and then the lessons afterwards help me more. I would do it more often, but a lot of clinicians don't want to.

    1. I find the same thing - not many will ride other people's horses.

  4. I wonder if the lack of strength is partly due to the fact that you don't manage to get much riding in through the winter (at more than a walk)?
    Does she push you to one side at the canter? If so, try a shim on that shoulder (ie. if she pushes you onto your right seatbone or side of the saddle, put a shim on the right shoulder). This made a huge difference to Phantom, and I really noticed it when someone stole my Thinline pad and I rode without it for a couple of rides.
    Otherwise, Annie is looking pretty good!

    1. It could be. But I mean, I leg her up pretty steadily thru the Spring. She doesn't feel unfit, she just feels weak. Yes, she does push me to one side in the canter - I will try that, thanks!

  5. I love getting that feedback from having a pro sit on my horse. It feels like it really helps you communicate with each other what's going on when they've physically ridden it instead of just seeing it from the ground.

    1. It really does!
      I think it helped Anthony teach me as much as it helped me teach Annie.