At it again with the lesson recaps!

Subtitled: “Seriously Olivia your left leg theoretically has muscle and is not just a limp spaghetti to drag around”

We’re now a little over a month into horse-ownership (OMG) and things have been going…how do I put this….AMAZING. THINGS ARE AMAZING. HOLY CRAP I LOVE THIS HORSE. LIKE AGGRESSIVE AMOUNTS. IT ACTUALLY MAKES ME ANGRY SOMETIMES HOW GREAT HE IS.

But we’re not going to focus on that right now. We’re here for a lesson recap! With the return of professional Powerpoint diagrams! (seriously Olivia this is not a talent that makes you stand out from the crowd)

Flatwork: getting there. I’ve mentioned that if I ask correctly and consistently, Francis will give me correct and consistent work. I’ve started getting the hang of the correctness, so now it’s more of an exercise in consistency. Asking for a bouncy collected canter and MAKING it happen before softening at him. In some ways Addy really prepared me well for this- to ask as softly as I can but as firmly as necessary to get a response.

A big focus in our warmup was controlling our pace within gaits- lots of extensions and collections. Extensions are definitely Frankie’s happy place and he loves to cover the ground, but he needs some help from me to package that whole long body of his together to collect. Holding my outside aids around the corners, sitting deep, and keeping my shoulders back instead of hunching in the fetal position have all really helped me maintain my own balance and help him maintain his.

Then we did no-stirrup work and shallow serpentines along the long sides to get them softening and changing the bend and blah blah blah lets get to the fun part.


We trotted a crossrail a couple times to get ourselves in the zone, and then started with a really cool exercise. We trotted up 6, came around the corner down 3, and then HALT. And then canter out over 1.


This was tough! Frankie likes to jump. Frankie does not appreciate being told to halt when it’s jumping time. Luckily I learned how to ask for a halt on the DragonMare so his half-hearted “but mahhhhhhm” was met with my cackle as we halted WITHOUT EVEN USING THE WALL TO RUN INTO. Sucker.

Then of course we picked up the wrong lead to canter out over 1, because we can’t have nice things.

This is a pattern: Francis does not like my left leg. He will pick up the left lead 100x more willingly than his right, dives around corners going left, and generally thinks my left leg is a funny concept but nothing to take seriously. This is something we will be working on.

Anwhosicle. On to our course! 1-2-3-4a-4b-5-6-7-8. It’s almost like I labeled it that way on purpose. So up the outside line in a quiet 4 or a forward 3 (in an amazing show of faith, Trainer left it up to us to decide), down the swedish oxer, 3 strides to the bounce, up the outside vertical/maybeitwasanoxer, then down the s-turn: green, itty bitty three strides to wall, two galloping strides out over the coop.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I loved this course. Anything that smells like a gymnastic is solid gold in my book, and this course had lots of fun little gymnastic-y elements. I of course went for the galloping 3 up the outside line because reasons, Frankie promptly dove through the corner and did a gangsta lean until I dug my spur into him and gave him a big fat nope, popped over the swedish and came to the bounce no problem, got to a nice close distance to the outside verticalmaybeanoxerimnotreallysure, and then survived the s-turn. It wasn’t really that dramatic because the jumps were basically speedbumps at 2′, but that tiny 3 to a big 2 was probably very entertaining to watch.

When we went back and did it again, Trainer added on a fun little thing at the end: after landing out of the s-turn, drop stirrups and jump 1 to 3 in a bending 6, then trot and come back over 6.

So you don’t have to scroll up. Don’t say I never do anything nice for you.

At one point I crashed through 1, but Francis is the ultimate ammy-packer type and went back and jumped it as if I hadn’t crawled up his neck and whispered “I’m so sorry” in his ear as things went south.

I was really happy with this! We learned that Frankie is not suuuuuper into my left leg at the moment, but we made new mistakes. That’s one of my favorite things my trainer has told me: go make new mistakes. New mistakes means we’re not making the same mistakes as last week means progress.

At this point, one of the other girls in my lesson asked Trainer to put the jumps up (she’s our Maclay junior who is an insanely talented rider, with an insanely talented horse, and an absolute pleasure to watch). Trainer had her pop over 1-2-3-1 once she set the jumps to 3’3″-3’6″ and they just flowed. It was gorgeous.

And then Trainer turned to me and said, “Olivia, do you want to give this a go?”


So we did the same mini-course. The first time through we took a bit of a flyer to the swedish, but we went back and fixed it and it was absolutely lovely. This horse, guys. He didn’t even blink.

Also- when I biffed that distance, Trainer said, “Olivia, you won’t be able to get away with that distance when the jumps really go up, that’s the kind of distance that will land you in the middle of the spread.”

Of course she’s totally right and all that. BUT. “When the jumps really go up.” LADY I THOUGHT THIS WAS UP. But this is the second time she has alluded in passing to the fact that we want to jump big and she doesn’t see it as a total impossibility for me and Frankie. She sees it as a logical progression. Beyond cool to have a trainer that believes in us and our abilities.

Speaking of logical progressions, we just sent in our entry blank for our first show together!!! We’re headed to Loudoun Benefit in June, held on the same showgrounds as Upperville. The tentative plan is to do 0.90m as a warmup on Thursday to see what kind of horse we have, and then do the 1m Low Adults Fri/Sat and the 1m Low Adult Classic Sunday.

To prepare for this, Frankie now has his lifetime membership with USEF as To Be Frank. I can’t wait to hear our names over the loudspeaker!

Any ideas for A) how to strength my legs or B) how to convince Frankie to respect that left leg more or C) build up Frankie’s strength to that side so it’s EASIER for him to respect it?

15 thoughts on “At it again with the lesson recaps!

  1. Allison Stitzinger 05/06/2016 / 10:15 am

    First of all, you are wonderful and I laugh whenever I read your posts! So, the left leg thing is probably just an unevenness/slight weakness one hind leg vs. the other, OR crookedness in your position! Sometimes when I’m having trouble bending Dino one way or the other, it’s because I’m actually blocking him with my body. Straighten myself out, and it’s much easier. His right hind is also weaker than his left, so it’s tough for him to really sit on that leg. Having trouble with left bend is sometimes just due to that rogue right hind trying to leave the building. More outside leg to keep it in check usually does the trick! So, things to think about in the straightness department. What also helps me is timing my leg aids with the swing of the offending hind leg to really emphasize, MOVE THAT ONE! Good luck at your show! You and Francis will be phenomenal!


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2016 / 2:57 pm

      You are TOTALLY right- I noticed that I’ve been super crooked lately. And my trainer said the same thing, that straightening myself out will do a lot to straighten him out. I LOVE your thoughtful comments, you always give me something to think about and try!


  2. carey 05/06/2016 / 11:32 am

    I was wondering what you decided on for his shoe name. I LOVE To Be Frank!

    Cosmo sooooo does a gangster lean to the right, until I DIG my spur in him. I have recently discovered, that I may have my left leg clamped on him at all times, therefore contributing/suggesting the right gangster lean. I think he likes to lean in anyway, but I may be encouraging this and had no idea.


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2016 / 2:58 pm

      Glad you like his name 🙂 I think I may be doing something very similar- I’m so right-side dominant and I’m probably pushing more strongly on that side without even realizing it. Definitely something to be more conscious of!


      • carey 05/06/2016 / 3:05 pm

        It’s really hard to un-do


      • hellomylivia 05/06/2016 / 3:07 pm

        Oh boy. Hopefully I can nip it in the bud early on before it becomes too much of a habit. It definitely improved over the course of my lesson as my trainer gave suggestions, so hopefully with some consistency we can address it

        Liked by 1 person

  3. emma 05/06/2016 / 12:11 pm

    To Be Frank – i love it!! how perfect haha. also i seriously giggled at “LADY I THOUGHT THIS WAS UP.” so glad to hear you and your new partner are doing so well together!! he sounds like a total dream


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2016 / 2:59 pm

      I feel like it fits him- he’s a very straightforward, no-nonsense kinda guy. Very frank 😉 I may be biased, but I think he’s the best horse in the world. At the very least, he’s the PERFECT horse for me ❤


  4. Abby F 05/06/2016 / 2:23 pm

    I’ll be at Loudon with my horses. I’ll be doing the Low AO jumpers. I’ll look for you and Frankie!


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2016 / 2:59 pm

      Yay!!!! I’ll be the one with the big grin making jokes with the ring steward 😉


  5. Courtney 05/06/2016 / 3:18 pm

    I love his name!! You’re going to be amazing at Loudoun!!
    You’re definitely going to be doing those huge jumps, I can see it in your future 😉


    • hellomylivia 05/06/2016 / 3:27 pm

      You need to come hang out at Loudoun that weekend! We have wine and pretty ponies. need I say more?


  6. Stacie Seidman 05/06/2016 / 9:15 pm

    Love the official name! It’s so fun to read about how great things are going for you and Frankie!
    You don’t need us to tell you how to strengthen your legs… You know. No stirrup work. Ugh.
    Do you ride with spurs? I had a horse that I used to ride with just one spur on. I can’t remember which leg it was that went unheard, but I put a spur just on that foot and it seemed to work well. For shows I had a teeny tiny spur for the foot that didn’t really need one so it wouldn’t look obvious that I was only using one. This was roughly ten million years ago. People may say it’s crazy and bad horsemanship now? Who knows.
    With all the flatwork you have been working on, the strength will come for him. It just takes time. Make sure that you’re working the weaker side as much as the easier side if not a little more.


    • hellomylivia 05/09/2016 / 9:32 am

      So much no-stirrup work. Eternal no-stirrup work. I swear my legs have been sore for a solid 5-6 weeks now (I wish I was exaggerating). You know, I have thought about fiddling with my spurs, I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that!


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