Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Derek Huget Clinic: Day 1

So good at prepping for clinics.
Following the Anthony clinic the third weekend of June (I swear, one of these days I'll catch up on posts...), Annie had a few days off and then a nice light Dressage hack in the arena to slightly prepare ourselves for a second weekend full of lessons.

I remember Annie felt particularly good this day - loose, mobile, and free in the shoulders. We played around with some movements from First and Second Level tests - primarily shoulder in, leg yielding, extended trot, and a bit of collected trot. Our canter work was really fantastic and I remember ending the ride after 15 minutes or so, just because I was really happy with her and felt she was working quite decently for me.

I didn't completely finish tho, because I ended up tossing her bridle aside and took a little jaunt around the ring, taking advantage of the fact I had someone out there with a camera. Overall it went well - I can't say we have 100% steering tho, esp at the canter, haha. For the most part she was amicable and responsive to the aids despite the fact I squeaked as quiet as a church mouse on our first canter depart and we ended up flailing along at the trot.

Heading into the weekend I felt pretty confident about our lessons and was looking forward to addressing some Dressage with Derek once again.

Poor, abused, long-suffering Annie.
For this clinic, I decided to leave Annie overnight at Barn C despite the fact I was driving back home. There was more allure in leaving her at the Barn then to haul back and forth both days, plus it also helped me in my quest to overnight Annie at various places. So, when in Rome, right?

When I pulled up to Barn C tho, I realized I made a pretty fatal error in ensuring it would be a happy and low-stress overnight stay. With Summer being fully underway, the residents of Barn C are no longer in the top field - they have all been relocated to the lower field to graze for the summer. Which, is great, but it also means there are no horses in the area of the overnight paddocks. In fact, there were precisely zero horses around where Annie would be, and none within seeing distance either. Of course, this was the first and only time I had left Spud at home instead of bringing him. Sigh.

I debated on just hauling home, but Show Buddy offered bringing one of her mares up from the pasture to hang out in the paddock next to Annie if need be, so I accepted the offer and decided to just see how it went. It sounds absolutely silly, but I felt bad about Annie being on her own, and while she has never been the one to completely lose her mind, I worry about her hurting herself or something trying to escape.


I tacked up at the trailer and toodled into the barn to see if we were on time or not. Annie pivoted around at the trailer a bit, but nothing too crazy, and settled in to eat her hay I had hung up in the net. Turned out, Derek was about 15-20 minutes behind, as a young rider's mount came up lame and they had to do a tack-swap on her mom's mare. I sat and chatted a bit with one of the lady's there I know before wandering back out to the trailer to grab Annie and toss her into a stall while we continued to wait.

That tail tho.
Also, no lesson media from this day so you'll just have
to imagine.
She seemed content to munch on her hay in the deserted barn, and once our lesson time neared, I threw on her bridle and headed into the arena to warm up a bit. Our Derek lessons are quite difficult on both of us, so I didn't want to empty Annie's energy conserves on Day 1. She felt pretty good - a bit tight when I first got on, but I asked her to stretch down and supple her back and she complied pretty readily with the request.

I spoke with Derek a bit before we got to work, and stated that our canter has been a bit of a hot mess lately. I explained what I had been doing to address it, as well as what things I believe were compounding the issue. We discussed it a bit before he nodded and off we went.

We spent a few moments at the trot, asking her to lift and lower again, before heading into the canter. We must have done a billion canter transitions this day. I wish I was joking, but nope. So. Many. Canter. Transitions.

Some pointers from the lesson:

  • In the transition, she likes to hesitate and thus, will toss her haunches to the inside and make it more difficult for herself to canter straight. This is where Derek believes the wrong leads and cross-firing comes from. Inside leg on to straighten.
  • You want the muscles on either side of her neck to bulge. However, they are not supposed to be tight or contracted.
  • Encourage her to step out at the canter vs being tentative.
  • Leg needs to be on during transitions, as she likes to falter or slow down when gaits are being changed.

Overall, it was a really good, motivating, lesson. I admitted to Derek that I become complacent with our transitions, especially trot-canter. I certainly don't school them in rapid succession as we did in this particular lesson, and much to my surprise, Annie had one very small "no thanks" moment, but otherwise did the things and was happy to do so.

Enjoy a hiking photo of the doggos from that morning.
I finished up by cooling her out, untacking, and then hand-walking in the outdoor Dressage arena so she could go down for a little roll. Once she felt appropriately coated in shavings and mulch, I finished setting up the remainder of her pen and turned her out for the night.

Approximately 15 seconds into her isolation, she took one look at me, trotted furiously around the pen, rammed her chest into the gate a few times, squealed, and proceeded to buck unhappily down the one side of the fence. And then, went to her hay and started eating like nothing had happened.

Uhm. Ok.

So abused.
I shrugged, finished unhitching the trailer and waited around for another 30 minutes to ensure she was truly settled before driving back home for the evening.

Despite her initial... erm, outburst... and her lack of pony friends in the area, Show Buddy sent me a few videos showing Annie eating quietly by herself in the lean-to. The following morning I headed out a bit earlier than required, and found Annie with a leg cocked, snoozing in the morning sunshine.

Certainly not that anxious about her overnight stay. Mares.


  1. She's so expressive! Mares is right... Now that I have one, I totally get it!
    Sounds like a great lesson, with some helpful takeaways.

    1. Expressive is one word for it, lol.
      Thankfully she simmers down quite easily.

  2. I come to your blog for the first time in a while and the first thing I see is a bridleless picture! Looks like I have some catching up to do!! Sounds like a productive clinic too!

  3. I'm loving all the fun adventures you two are having this summer!

  4. I would worry as well. She did really well. Interesting about the hesitation- it makes sense tho.

    1. Horses, eh?
      Yes, the hesitation thing is quite interesting.

  5. I've been forcing myself to work hard on our canter transitions lately. I just hate it tho lol.

  6. You gotta love mares sometimes hahaha. It sounds like you got some good insight from even the first day!

    1. Oh... mares haha.

      Yes, it was a very productive clinic!

  7. I'm continually awed by the work you've put into Annie and how she's progressing. Thinking back to two years ago, she's a totally different horse and is becoming such a professional for your clinics!

    1. Thank you <3
      It's been a journey, that's for sure!

  8. Glad she was good at the overnight despite 🎭 initial reaction! I worry too their first night in a new place, Ramone used to get very anxious if he couldn't see other horses.

    1. She gets over it eventually, but boy oh boy does she like to express herself lol