Sweet and Sticky Spots

Huzzah for quick farrier visits! Wednesday morning saw me grinning at my phone as I read the text from our assistant trainer: “farrier is coming out this morning, you’ll be good for your lesson tonight :)” Smiley face indeed. I was ecstatic!

And then I realized something: Addy had not been ridden since Saturday. Not even a little. Thankfully she had been going outside to play pretty much every day, but no work under saddle in three whole days.

That probably doesn’t sound like a huge deal to you- if three days was our regular gap it would still average out to riding more than once a week. But Addy has plenty of energy even when she’s worked every day, and I can always tell when she’s had a single day off. Three whole days of sitting on her butt and collecting her energy? I was prepared for a rodeo.

So I got to the barn a little early and set her up on the lunge line in the outdoor (with lots of assistance from our awesome assistant trainer). I wanted this pony nice and tired before my butt hit the saddle. She happily trotted and cantered around in circles, pausing every so often to look in at me as if to say, “I mean, I’ll do it, but why aren’t you on my back yet?” So I hopped on about 20 minutes before my lesson to give us plenty of time to warm up together.

I’m a worry-wart for nothing. If anything, she was lazier than usual! Thank goodness for ponies that surprise you with their good brains, and thank goodness turnout seems to be more of a factor than under saddle work for her (we know how much she loves her outside time). We were able to stay nice and balanced while we were warming up, and our canter-trot transitions were much smoother than usual. She framed up into a gorgeous collected trot when I asked, and kept that impulsion and balance going. Have I mentioned that I love this horse?

Sadly I will not be including a professional diagram today; I don’t think the course warrants it. There was a nice easy bending line, an outside line of skinnies, and then 47 4 diagonal jumps with long approaches. Those darn long approaches.

This all went really well- I even managed to stay on over a crossrail with no stirrups! It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, but it’s progress! She listened extremely well when I asked her to move up or collect a little, and even when the jumps went up a bit higher she listened like a champ.

One sticky spot: the skinny line on the outside came up out of that corner REAL fast, and Addy pulled her whole “eh this is mildly uncomfortable, I’ll pass” duck-out shenanigan. This is why I need to actually start carrying a crop. She wasn’t being nasty or scared or dirty, it was just a little bit out of her comfort zone and she needed some extra encouragement to put in the effort. We did eventually get over it a couple times. Not pretty, but effective.

Getting over it was fine for me to end on a good note; my self-esteem can take a bit of a hit and I’ll be fine. I proved to both of us that I can get her to a good spot and MAKE her go over that fence, and that’s all I really wanted. But I wanted Addy to end on a really positive confident note, so I asked the assistant trainer to hop on and school her through the line once or twice.

A little description: our assistant trainer is this tiny little woman with legs of steel. Seeing her on this large draft cross was so crazy- I’ve only ever seen one rider (myself) on Addy, and that’s always in videos! She was able to strongly support Addy to the base and get her over that jump beautifully, and did it a couple more times to get her feeling really good about it. By the end she was doing with much less support and carrying herself to the base. We both got to end on a good note!

I know some people are reluctant to have others hop on their horse, but I’ve never hesitated when the rider is clearly better than me. Riding is a constant conversation between the horse and rider- if I know someone speaks the language better than I do, it makes sense to me to have them hop on and clarify what I’m trying to say. I’ve been extremely fortunate to spend time around so many skilled riders who are willing to help out!

Take-away lesson: just because I get Addy to the sweet spot does not mean I can take my leg off and throw my reins at her. She needs and deserves strong support from me to help her up and over, especially when it’s something out of her comfort zone. One more reason to boost my no-stirrup work!

What do you do when your “conversation” gets confusing? Do you prefer to work through sticky spots yourself, or do you like to have a trainer hop on to help?

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11 thoughts on “Sweet and Sticky Spots

  1. Tracy 02/12/2015 / 12:23 pm

    It depends on the situation, but usually I try to work things out for myself since it’s usually MY problem, not my horse. But I have been known to request assistance now and again as well.

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    • hellomylivia 02/12/2015 / 1:05 pm

      I think that’s a great balance- if it’s my own mistakes that are causing a problem then it makes sense to work on it so that I learn how to not make that mistake anymore.

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  2. Annye / AnAmishWarmblood 02/12/2015 / 12:29 pm

    That’s so nice that you have someone to ride for you. Was she giving the lesson, too?

    I’ve always, always been the one to work through our problems – but that’s really because I don’t have anyone to ride for me. My past trainers unfortunately don’t ride client horses. I wonder if that’s abnormal…

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    • hellomylivia 02/12/2015 / 1:07 pm

      She was actually participating in the lesson- she likes to join in every so often to stay sharp. Once we got the ok from Boss Trainer she hopped right on πŸ™‚
      I’ve been very lucky that every trainer I’ve worked with has been willing to (a) get on the horse themselves or (b) have one of their more advanced students get on to help out. I wonder why your trainers have chosen not to, it was all I could do to get my old trainer off my horse so I could get back on!

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  3. heartofhope10 02/12/2015 / 2:02 pm

    I always hope that I am able to correct our (usually my) sticky spots with the guidance of a trainer in a lesson. That said, I actually think it’s cool to see others ride my horse. If I feel like it warrants the attention I ask my trainer to get on for a session. Whatever sets us up for mores success next ride πŸ™‚

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  4. CallyJumps 02/12/2015 / 3:04 pm

    I’ve done most of the work bringing mine along, myself. But I do find it occasionally helpful to have one of my trainers get on and help explain something to the horse, or give her a little confidence boost. Plus it was awesome to have a friend come up and tell me she saw my horse with trainer the day prior, and “she looked amazing.”

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    • hellomylivia 02/16/2015 / 11:34 am

      Sometimes it’s so inspiring to see what your horse is really capable of! It always pushes me to want to improve so I can get the same ride.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. carey 02/12/2015 / 3:56 pm

    I think it’s great watching someone else ride my horse, especially if they are a better rider than me. I never get to see him go since I am on him, so that part is fun. It’s also really cool to see what he can do with a more advanced rider who can really show him off.
    I’m not hesitant to hand over the reins if there is a problem that is over my head, either.

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    • hellomylivia 02/16/2015 / 11:37 am

      It’s definitely cool to get that different perspective, and sometimes I notice things for myself to improve on- the trainer had such a tight leg and that helped Addy be so much more adjustable.

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