Skip to content

Clinic Recap

April 11, 2012

So now that more than  a week has passed, I’m finally writing about the clinic I attended last weekend. Me? Writing a week late? Neglecting the blog? Shocker!


  • Squish never had a meltdown, even though she had every excuse to; poor Pony hadn’t been ridden in about a month, and I was asking her to behave herself for eight hours of hard word and harder thinking each day. She was a rock star though. Nary a spook, bolt, or buck. She really is a lot more of a solid citizen than I give her credit for.
  • No major ear pinning at the lope! This is the mare that would put her ears flat back on her head and gnash her teeth if you so much as grazed her side with your leg. Gradually, the angry mare face has disappeared from all the time to just at the faster gaits, to just at the lope, to not even then.
  • We picked up our right lead! For both of us, our right side is weaker, so trying to get the right lead has often lead to us being sweaty, frustrated messes. We got our right lead twice!
  • No dirty stopping! This mare learned that if she slams on the brakes (literally, she will drop her hocks in the sand), the immediate and unexpected stop in momentum will pop you out the of the saddle and she’ll get a minute rest and reprieve as you reorient yourself. She didn’t even try it this time. There were a few moments when I could tell she was thinking about it, but she thought better of it and kept going.
  • She’s always been really good about her turn on the haunches and turn on the forehand, but she really aced them this time; they were fluid, soft, and tight.
  • We braved the teeter-toter! The teeter-totter is a trail obstacle that looks like this (image not mine):      It moves as the horse shifts weight from one side to the other, which is understandably scary. Squish didn’t even blink an eye. Brave little pony!

Groundwork Notes

  • Round pen is for work. It is not a time for letting Pony buck the sillies out of her system. We used the round pen to work on her transitions to the lope, which have been pretty ugly under saddle. In the beginning, she exhibited a lot of resistance which she demonstrated through head tossing, turning her butt towards me, and pinning her ears. None of this was because she was in pain or confused, she just plain. didn’t. want. to work. Her mare ‘tude got responded to with emphatic whip threatening, and once she realized I meant business, she settled down and the transitions started to get softer and easier.
  • Drive, don’t pull.

Riding Notes

  • The one rein stop is my friend. I actually use it as a bit of a warm-up when I first hop on. I just pull one rein toward my hip until Pony bends, softens, and stops bracing. This makes her stop, flex, focus, and mentally regroup.
  • Keep her engaged; ride, ride, ride! Once she gets bored, Pony tries to make her own excitement.
  • Transitions within the gait will ultimately help us with our transitions between gaits. Pony is super sensitive to seat aids, and will happily speed or slow down to match your seat rhythm. Our collected walk and extended walk are a-w-e-s-o-m-e, and we’re getting there with the trot. When I long trot her, she rolls nicely up into the lope, which is fine for now. I want loping to represent the easy, happy choice. Even though I’m not necessarily asking her to lope, the fact that she’s choosing to lope is fantastic.
  • For now, she really needs right rein support to pick up the right lead. It also helps when I sit straight and don’t ride like a drunk scarecrow.


  • I’m allowed to pull rank and be the boss-mare. I’ve been afraid of getting after Angel because I didn’t want to lose the hard-earned trust I’ve finally achieved. Turns out, she won’t hate me if I make my demands known. In fact, she’s shown me that she’s more comfortable once I clearly explain what I want and expect from her. She doesn’t consider (reasonable) negative feedback as punishment; for her, it’s just communication.
  • Angel’s reactions are not borne from uncertainty, pain, or confusion, as I had previously thought. Though that might have been true in the beginning, Angel’s hijinks are now simply the manifestation of three-year-old mare ‘tude.
  • I have a bold little pony.
  • Riding takes courage; you have to ride out the stupids and sillies. Yes, it’s scary, but not as scary as riding the horse who has learned to act up in order to get his way.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to put all the we learned and practiced to the test on April 29th- our first showing debut!!!

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: