Back to Basics | Adjusting the Plan

This past weekend, I was supposed to be taking a step back and schooling my First Level tests and working towards really coming up with a good plan of attack for the upcoming show season. While I did some of that, it unfortunately didn't work out that well.

What's that they say about the "best laid plans"?

One thing did hold true for the weekend, Guinness and I went back to basics. Things started looking rough on Thursday, when Guinness came into the arena with a poor work ethic. He wasn't forward, and ignored my legs and whip so badly I finally had to smack him once - hard. He was much better after that, though still slightly behind the leg. No lameness, but his resistance was still troubling to me. A friend was working a tiny pony, and that managed to unnerve him. So, we ended up riding for the better part of an hour and half just trying to get some calm but forward work. Afterwards, I did his feet -- just in case those were bothering him.
The horses next to the arena were playing so hard in the spring weather!
Friday night he was again lazy, and completely reluctant to take right contact. He would lean on the inside left rein, and completely hollow his right side. No amount of weighting the right or use of the left leg would push him into my hand. The majority of the ride was done at the walk, trying to get him to come on to the right rein without flipping out and spinning backwards or rearing. Finally, I did get some relaxation from him on the right rein and we schooled through 1st 3. The schooling rides were terrible, but he seemed to relax and go much better after the tests were through. (Honestly after watching video of Friday, the test run thrus are much better than any of the rides from last year. But compared to where we were working a week ago, they are awful.)

Saturday's early morning dressage school was better than Friday, but still resistant. I didn't ask for a lot of work, stepping way back in my expectations and just reaffirming confidence in the bridle. I did get a lot of good work on the right rein, though I had to constantly "massage" or "pulse" the right rein to keep him on it. He also demanded quite a lighter bit of contact that he's been taking recently. He's been putting about 1-2lbs of pressure in my hand, Saturday he demanded we carry no more than a light touch or a 1/2lb - max. That's a difficult level of lightness to keep without pulling back or allowing slack in the contact. However, it does require me to ride with constant vigilance as to my rein slipping habit and my flapping chicken elbow habit.

The change of plan on Saturday was hard, as we've been improving so rapidly over the winter months. It's a good reminder to listen to my horse, and give him the ride he needs on the day rather than the one I had planned out. We have all the time in the world, and reestablishing the basics will serve us better than trying to push through.

After our dressage school Saturday, I headed out to run 5 miles with the huskies and think about more about my training issues. Post run, Guinness was tacked again for his second ride of the day, and the dogs and I enjoyed a second trip around our 5 mile block. Here's to hoping a bit of time out of the ring and a confident ride on the right rein is all it takes to restore my little thoroughbred worker bee.

Guinness says, "Where the F is the barn?!"
Dogs say, "Whee!!!!"


  1. Horses are a constant reminder of one step forward two steps back, oh the joys of them /irony

    Hopefully Guinness refinds his positive attitude to dressage work and the back to basics fairness that approach can necer do wrong ;-)

    1. I think he has! I always end up going back to the basics at least once a month. This time I was forcibly pushed back there. Oh ... horses. :)

  2. What aoife said, whenever i have my highest high the horses always bring you back to the ground lol


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