Hello Dear Reader!

I promise, I’m back. Going back over every single post from the last 2 weeks seemed a little daunting, so I’m going to do the classy thing and pretend I was never gone. Rest assured that I read them all and felt your pain, joys, and ridiculous moments.

Today’s post is about the sin of pride. And anyone who has ever spent time around horses already knows where I’m going with this because of the whole horses-eat-your-ego-for-breakfast thing. Don’t spoil it for the readers who think horses are magical unicorns that poop rainbows.

Addy and I have been totally on fire lately: having awesome lessons, doing well in shows, rockin’ the new height without blinking, being Awesome with a capital A. I can even get that collected bouncy canter on command now, and my nerves haven’t made me puke yet! I must be a Very Good Rider.

In this case, it wasn’t even Addy that knocked me down a peg. It was that glorious Assistant Trainer of mine. I’m saying glorious through gritted teeth as I massage my thigh muscles and hope they’ll continue to hold me upright for just a little while longer. I’m saying glorious as I look up the maximum dosage info on the Advil bottle. I’m saying glorious as I wonder whether I should move back to the Short Stirrup classes for a while.

Here’s what happened:

I went to the barn for one of my “homework” rides after work yesterday. It was a beautiful hot sunny day, I was pretty tired from it being Monday (do I need another reason??), and Addy has been super chill lately so I figured we would do a quick flat school and leave it at that.

Addy forgot that she’s been chill lately and had a lovely time speed-trotting around the ring while simultaneously peeking at all the Big Scary Rails along the walls that she’s seen literally every day for the last few months. But no big deal, we warmed up walking and trotting around decently despite the ants in her pants. I trust her enough to know that getting a little speedy and looky is about as “bad” as she gets, and I trust my own skills enough to hold me on for whatever she throws at me. I was using a different saddle than normal which made me feel extremely insecure in my leg, but whateva. It was a simple flat hack, I had the strength the hold my leg in place for at least the 30 minutes I was planning on riding. All in all, having a fine time with the DragonMare.

Then we started cantering around, and I began playing with changes of pace- extending and collecting at different places. That’s when AT (Assistant Trainer) looked around as her lesson left the ring, and called out “I want you to hold that outside rein more strongly around the corners.”

And so it began.

Now, we’ve been trying that whole counter-bending thing with great success lately, so I wasn’t surprised to hear this. It really did help Addy straighten out instead of digging through the corners, and our circles were much more balanced. AT then had me canter a very small circle while holding that outside rein strong and HOLY MOLY LEG 4 DAYS. It was lightyears more balanced and controlled than any circle we’ve done, but it took So. Much. Leg. My reins were actually doing what they were supposed to do and acting as straightening aids, and my legs were what moved her around that track. Our goal was to move her shoulders over instead of bending. A.K.A. learning how to do the tight turns that I’ll see in the jumper ring.

“But Olivia,” you chime in innocently, with a gentle twinkle in your eyes, “That all sounds great! What bruised your ego about such a valuable learning experience??”

To which I say, jeez man let me finish, I’m getting there.

AT then looked consideringly at the quarter-line set up and told me to go through it a couple times “so she has a chance to see it.” Um, ok. I could tell she had an idea in her head that went farrrr beyond the quarter-line. We popped through that a couple times in three nice strides with no problems- it was set to 2’6″-2’9″ish so nothing of note there.

Keep in mind that Addy was still full of beans. Still no big deal and very manageable.


AT said to me “Olivia, I want you to jump in the first jump, then roll back right to the rail. Do it in front of these standards, don’t go around.” I made some sort of noise about wtf is this and she made some sort of noise about I didn’t ask for your opinion I told you to do this and then I made some sort of noise that sounded kinda like “ok.”

Attempt 1: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 2: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 3: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 7: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 8: Set up some ground poles as a guide. Approach the jump. WHAT ARE THESE POLES I CANNOT JUMP.

Time to take a break. At this point I was getting extremely anxious and tense, which led to me getting very stiff in the saddle. Poor Addy had absolutely no clue what I was asking her to do, and could feel me getting more and more anxious. So she assumed there was something to be anxious about. Nothing naughty, but there was certainly a fire under her at this point.

AT put the jump down to a crossrail and set up a few more ground poles to guide our track. Told us to very calmly trot in and make the turn that way.

Yeah, nope. We were still so super keyed up and that wasn’t gonna work.

So we took it a step further and put it down to a ground pole. Addy still bunny-hopped over it a couple times and I’m pretty sure I was still holding my breath, but we just went in circles over it until both of us relaxed and realized there was nothing to worry about. We focused on where I was placing her feet and her shoulders at the walk.

And we ended on that good note. Because even though last week our good note was nailing a full 3′ course with rollbacks, yesterday’s good note was steering correctly at the walk over a ground pole. Like I said. The sin of pride.

We have some super intense homework: lateral work. Like, metric crap-tons of lateral work. At the walk. Leg-yields and turns on the forehand to really get her sensitive to my leg and train my leg to ask appropriately. Do that until we have it nailed at the walk. Then we can try it trotting. Eventually we’ll apply that to our jumping and make those tight turns. We need to step back to those basics for a bit so that we can put the building blocks together strongly.

Some homework just for me: breathe in and breathe out. Treat every jump as a schooling opportunity with no pressure. Remember that each new trip through is a new opportunity. Believe that I can do what I set my mind to and commit.

After that physical and mental torture, I think you can all guess what I did. I asked if I could have a private flat lesson sometime soon. I think there’s something wrong with my brain.

Any tips for working on our lateral movements? How do you approach these super tight jumper turns? Any ideas for strengthening my legs? I have lots of requests for your help and opinions this week πŸ™‚


27 thoughts on “Hubris.

  1. emma 05/05/2015 / 4:02 pm

    yikes – that sounds super mind-meltingly intense! i’m actually kinda impressed you didn’t end up splatted against the arena wall! good luck working on the flat work!!


    • hellomylivia 05/05/2015 / 4:18 pm

      It was definitely mind-melting! I’m just as surprised as you are that I didn’t go *splat* at least once haha


  2. carey 05/05/2015 / 4:18 pm

    Hah, sounds rough. I feel your pain, you’re gonna nail it next, though!


  3. Lauren 05/05/2015 / 5:08 pm

    I am lucky and have a horse that turns like a horse car. Don’t get too jealous though, he has turned me off more than once! As far as working on lateral work, I like to start at the walk with simple lateral work as well as shoulder in. For turns, the biggest key for me is sitting up and applying leg through the turn.


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 7:00 am

      Those tight turns are a blessing and a curse! You’re totally right, I keep forgetting to sit up straight. I have to forget all my hunter habits!


  4. Tracy 05/05/2015 / 8:23 pm

    No turn advice, because I’m happy over here in HunterLand. For legs though I have a few exercises:
    1. Up, Up, Down — instead of posting regularly, do 2 up bounces before going down.
    2. Seat Intervals – Do 10-15 strides of sitting trot, posting trot and two-point.
    3. Canter Seat Circles – Do 4 10-15m circles (one in each corner of the arena) first sitting the canter, then the second lap in half seat/two point
    4. Post the Canter – self explanatory
    5. Bareback – riding bareback will really help strengthen your thighs!


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 7:02 am

      You and Mr. Miles look so shmancy over there in HunterLand πŸ™‚
      Thank you for the exercises! And for explaining the specifics of them (even better that they’re in list form)


  5. Karley 05/06/2015 / 1:10 am

    Oye love those hack turned lessons!! Not lol

    For turning tight turns, looking where you are going and inside reign/outside leg.. If it’s super tight start over the jump!

    I don’t do jumpers but we do this stuff in handy and eq stuff so trainer has us practice and also we are well rounded πŸ™‚


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 7:04 am

      Those impromptu lessons always end up being the hardest!
      We’ve been doing some tighter eq-type turns lately, but it seems that AT is bumping it up a notch to show me where she wants us to go. Determined to get that outside leg on tighter and get there!


  6. Nicole Sharpe 05/06/2015 / 1:40 am

    I love me some lateral work! Shoulder in, leg yields, and working on the haunches in — I don’t know how to encourage you to do it more, because I love it and do it all the time anyway! It sounds like you and Addy could start with some leg yield — quarter line to wall or four stride zig zags to get her really moving off your leg — or up the wall, and haunches in/out. Getting Addy to move her haunches around will help her load her hind legs too, which you will need for those jumper turns. I did, however, just start working on my leg strength again yesterday — more two point and posting trot without stirrups. My faaaaveee.

    Can you describe the quarter line thing to me more? I’m super confused about the rollback you’re describing. Where were the arena walls and things in this situation?


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 7:07 am

      What is it that George Morris said? Something about getting their hind ends dancing like Miley Cyrus. Gonna definitely get her moving off my leg more πŸ™‚
      I’ll post a professional diagram today! I realized that “quarter line rollback” gives practically no detail about what actually happened haha.


  7. Hawk 05/06/2015 / 6:39 am

    Really turning my shoulders (but keeping my hips straight) and looking where I want to go helps with tight turns. Also opening the rein in the direction I want to turn, closing the other rein (but not laying it against the neck), and applying outside leg aides really helps me.

    As for leg strengthening, I calf raises and various types of squats have done absolute wonders for me. I do leg raises whenever I’m just standing around – like waiting for the bus. Doing them off of a stair is best, and adding weights when you get stronger at them is ideal.


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 7:08 am

      Very very good call with looking where you’re going- I kept turning my head but then BOOM WALL and I’d stare at the wall and we would run into the wall….bad rider, no cookie for me.
      I love exercises I can do while standing at my desk πŸ™‚


  8. The Exquisite Equine 05/06/2015 / 7:19 am

    Haha what a lesson!!! Sounds like a learning experience!
    For lateral work, groundwork helps SO much!! Really get them sensitive to pressure in all areas.
    If you find any good leg exercises, share them please. This sloppy girl could use some…


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 7:26 am

      It was definitely a learning experience! And humbling, which I think is healthy every once in a while πŸ™‚
      AT actually showed me some ground exercises she’s using with one of our greenies, I’m definitely going to use that! Addy isn’t particularly green, but she needs a tune-up in that area. DragonMare still has to listen to leg, however much she wants to do her own thing.
      So many good leg strengthening ideas in these comments! It’s awesome to be connected to bloggers who have all these good ideas πŸ™‚


  9. Rebecca 05/06/2015 / 7:32 am

    Wow, this scares me just reading about it! Given, I’m not a terrific jumper anyway so I don’t have the tools to do it but shyikes. Kudos to you for sticking with it!


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 7:40 am

      Thank you! I’m very determined to be able to make that turn now haha.


  10. Britt 05/06/2015 / 9:45 am

    Sounds like a hard exercise for sure! If I had to chime in with advice I would say- balanced in, balanced out. Establish the balance well before you take the fence/pole/whatever in order to land balanced. If you come at the pole unbalanced and she lands in a heap, there is absolutely no way in hell you’ll be able to make the turn after.


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2015 / 9:55 am

      Absolutely agreed- if we can’t balance around a wider turn, there’s no way to package in such a short time to make that tighter turn.


  11. erinattssf 05/08/2015 / 7:14 pm

    I’m not sure what kind of space your working with but when we work on tight turns my coach tells us to create a pocket. Instead of focusing so much on the tightness make yourself a bit of space by using an indirect inside rein and inside leg to push her over before you make the turn. I hope that makes sense.


    • erinattssf 05/08/2015 / 7:20 pm

      Wait that doesn’t make sense… I should have said your new inside rein and leg. ie. if you’re turning right after the jump use your right leg and rein to create the space by moving her left before the turn.


      • hellomylivia 05/11/2015 / 3:03 pm

        That’s definitely something I’ll keep in mind! My trainer even set up some ground poles to help me visualize it as hugging the outside of the turn instead of trying to hairpin backwards.

        Liked by 1 person

      • erinattssf 05/11/2015 / 3:37 pm

        Exactly! Only push out more then that to give yourself the extra step. It makes all the difference.

        Liked by 1 person

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