Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 2

With Day 1 down and out of the way, I was feeling a lot more confident about Day 2. It seemed like my worst fears had been stomped down and I could focus and enjoy my horse, the lesson, and follow the instruction without being too guarded or worrying if something would trigger a reaction (nevermind the fact that Annie has been schooling just fine aside from the one day I previously mentioned).

It had absolutely poured rain overnight, and when I crawled out of bed around 7:30am, I inwardly groaned knowing that I undoubtedly was about to be cold and wet for a majority of the morning. With my lesson at 9:15 and a good 50 minute drive ahead of me, I was less than enthused to be getting up early on my only day off for the week. So hard done by, having to get up early for a riding lesson. 

I did run a bit late at the horses in the morning which meant I didn't get a chance to nebulize before trailering out, but figured I could nebulize at the grounds if needed. Since Annie was pretty soaked, I threw a cooler on and crossed my fingers she would be dry enough by the time we reached the grounds. The rain continued for the entire drive, and as I sped up my wipers, I tried to not focus on how miserable riding in the cold and rain would be. 

Upon arriving, I parked close to the indoor arena, having noted that the current lesson of the day was taking place in there. Annie unloaded like a much more civilized beast and went right to snacking on grass by my feet before we ventured to the indoor to view the current lesson (and to stay dry!).

Unfortunately, the lessons got a bit back-logged and mine ended up getting bumped to an hour later. Which, no biggie, it happens. One of the awesome things about Anthony is that he isn't under a time crunch - if you need longer than your slotted 45 minutes to figure something out, he'll happily coach you until things are in a good place. I've been one of those lessons before, so I can both understand and appreciate the delay.

I ended up not nebulizing, because of the time delay I figured I'd wait until we got closer, and then before I knew it, it was time to get on. Time management is difficult when you aren't exactly sure what your ride time is and are too focused on being late that you end up being late anyways. Oh, anxiety.

I needn't worry though, because the lack of nebulizing was a non-issue. Annie was perfectly happy to go round and we were able to get some good work in. Because it was her first time back in the indoor arena in (oh man I just looked back... it's been a while) several months and even longer since she was ridden in it, mare was SPOOKY.


Coffee cups on the mounting block were a NO GO and it took a little bit to get the hamsters back on their wheels and all cylinders firing once again. It was a good opportunity tho, because it made me realize just how much I hang on my inside rein (esp tracking left... which is our bad canter steering way.... a coincidence maybe?? Maybe not). 

Anthony instructed me to drop my inside rein, focus on making her an athlete (forward and steer) and ignore the rest. Spooking wasn't the issue, the issue was lack of forward and lack of steering. My resolution to this was to pull the inside rein, which off-balances her and over-bends her - as Anthony put it, "If you are coming up to a spooky liverpool, are you going to grab the inside rein and overbend?" 

Point taken, sir!

Once Annie stopped being so offended by the arena drag and the coffee cup, we went to work on the previous days lesson. The basis of this lesson was keeping her engaged in the bridle but not deep and down. A majority of our work was also on my tendency to push the inside rein into her neck and/or keep it tight against the neck. It was really hard trying to retrain myself to slacken that rein and to straighten her head/neck. The flat-work went well enough that Anthony suggested heading to the outdoor to pop over some jumps and I was quite surprised (and flattered, bc long-time readers might remember how hard I've worked to make it over some jumps in his clinics! I've spent a fair amount of clinics just flatting because we weren't "quite there" yet.) he gave me an entire course to play with.

  • Bend should be something you can turn on and turn off.

  • When things go wrong, I tend to bend her vs steering her. Bend isn't a bad thing, but it isn't going to help us go forwards or help us steer.

  • I ride with my hands off-centered to the right (inside rein tight against the neck), and therefore am consistently telling her "right, right, right" when I am meaning straight. The aid for "turn right" doesn't change when I am asking, and this is where a lot of the resistance to the right aid comes from. By asking her "right" all the time, I am making that cue lose value and confusing her.

  • When doing a down-transition, forward is the goal. Make her an athlete.

  • Left hand off/away from the neck.

  • Do not allow your steering to slow you down. Steering doesn't mean slow.

  • Encourage her to look up.

  • She makes your job of a going into 2pt before the jump difficult, as she doesn't like to commit to the fence until she gets to it. With adding power and steering, that will eventually go away. For now, your job is to ensure she stays committed and straight. (She likes to stall down a gear or two if I am not right on her butt until the take-off point).

  • "Can you imagine if this was your warm up round? We'd be having even more fun."
It was very interesting to see the difference in both Annie and myself when I sat down and compared to previous clinics. I think a large portion of it was that I actually rode my horse. Which, might sound silly in one vein but I have a tendency to sit there and wait for instruction from the clinician vs actually committing to a plan and riding it. I think a lot of it stems from anxiety - not wanting to be wrong or making the wrong choice, but at the end of the day, there are certain things (a, b, c)  I need to still do so that x, y, z works. Because without a,b,c I end up having no x, y, z but also an issue of d, e, f to now deal with. If that makes sense?

May 2021 vs
May 2019
Nearly the same stride.
Interesting how much allowing her poll to come up affects her uphill
balance. While the bottom photo may look "prettier", she is very 
tight and restricted in the shoulders (notice how much further her front left
 is reaching) and throatlatch, as well as downhill.

I really wanted to jump on Day 2, since Day 1 was largely flat and by the time we wandered over to the jumps, Annie had pretty much zero fuel left in the tank. It took a lot of brain power for me to just do the things, even though that uncertain part of me was nagging, "Just wait for direction. She's drifting left... need to wait for Anthony to tell me to correct it." I was a lot more proactive than I have been in the past and it paid off in dividends. Anthony was quite pleased with the efforts and remarked that had our final round been our warm up round (and that it can be our warm up round), what fun we would have playing around for the remainder of the lesson.

She felt pretty good to jump - I concentrated quite hard on keeping her straight, in an even tempo and chugging along. You know, all the basics. Like I outlined above tho, it can be hard for my brain to remember all the things, because for some reason I convince myself that sitting up there like a monkey is the best possible course of action when in a clinic. Being proactive paid off tho and although there was some "meh" parts of the course, overall it flowed relatively well and we didn't have much issue. I was pretty proud of myself for staying attentive and proactively riding my mare - silly as it sounds, it is something I struggle with.

Overall, a very positive and impactful two days worth of instruction. I was doggone tired and absolutely riding a clinic high - the ability to participate in one relit a fire of desire I had forgotten I had and made me doubly proud of my mare and all that she has accomplished over the years. Certainly a great way to start off the clinic season - hopefully Annie continues to be game as the summer unfolds.


  1. So exciting! What a great weekend you had (despite the rain)! So glad things are coming together for you two!

    1. I was a bit thankful for the rain, since it dampened down the dust!

  2. Yay! It's so wonderful to have a good clinic and end up with some good homework. Isn't it amazing how well actually riding the horse works? Lol! I have to often remind myself to ride the canter, not just try to keep it quiet and pretty looking.

    1. Remembering to actually ride the horse is hard, haha.

  3. What a great clinic to kick off 2021 for you and Annie!

  4. you guys look great!! what a great Day 2, even with the scheduling shenanigans etc

    1. I've totally been there for before and I feel bad if I make other clinic participants late, but it happens.

  5. Sounds like a great clinic!

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