Goals Take Work!

A lot has changed since I got back from Greece a week ago. Obviously we’re making plans which is all well and good, but the big change here is: we’re working HARD to get there. Even harder than before.

Because here’s the deal: I can get away with a decent amount of weakness at 1m. Francis is scopey enough and tall enough that he can get out of trouble with very little assistance from me at that height. Obviously it’s much smoother and cleaner when I ride strongly, but there is a decent margin for rider error.

I cannot get away with weakness at 1.10m and up. My leg MUST be there. My hand MUST be there. I MUST make decisions on course. I will still make mistakes and I will still miss, and Frankie will still be able to make it over, under, or through- but only if I am strong enough to help him out.

Not relevant, I just really like his tail. It’s purty.

So this month of training is not just to kick-start Frankie’s fitness and ability at the higher heights, it’s also to kick-start my own. As my horse becomes better and better schooled and more responsive, I have to rise to the occasion and give him a ride that supports that training. Luckily, the best way to learn how to ride strongly is to….ride strongly!

So here’s what I’m thinking about:

At the walk- insist on a forward walk with poll high, on the contact. Frankie has a BEAUTIFUL swinging forward walk….when I’m not touching his mouth. As soon as I pick up his face he assumes he should either a) walk very slowly or b) start jigging/trotting. He needs to continue that forward swinging walk while accepting the bit.

At the trot- SHORTEN MY REINS. Gone is the era of a light contact. Now it’s time to feel my horse and have a much quicker way of communicating. Half-halt more strongly with my legs to get him up off his front end and rocking back and up into my hand. Push hard inside leg to straightening outside rein to get straightness and power. He will start out with his nose in the air- that’s ok. Once he realizes I mean it, he drops down and gets to work. Don’t give up the contact. Don’t give up the leg.

At the canter- get in his way. No more half-seating around. Sit and drive with my seatbones and legs, and insist that he push from behind. Develop a more staccato, active canter behind. No overbending around the corners- that outside rein still needs to be there. Dropping down onto my hand does not equal roundness- get that poll higher and pushhhh up into the bridle. STOP WITH THE HALF SEAT. We ain’t doin’ the hunters. We are doing the jumpers and we have to ride like ze Germans. This is what works for Frankie.

Downwards transitions- he must stay light. If he tries to bear down and coast to a stop, we rein back and then try again.

Jumping- quick recovery off every jump. This means auto-release and maintaining a feel over the fence. This also means landing and immediately deciding whether to move up or woah for the add. Either will work as long as I ask ASAP. Get to the close spot- no leaving it out.

Also not relevant, he’s just super cute.And shiny. And did I mention cute?

And there you have it! We are upping the ante and putting both of us to work. Hence the muscle soreness. I love it.

My lesson this week was really tough since we are striving for more than we did before, but oh so insightful. When I got the right canter, I could actually hear the difference in his footfalls. When I got the right trot, I could extend and collect IMMEDIATELY. When I kept my leg on more strongly, I could adjust my striding in a line and get a much quicker reaction. His responsiveness and adjustability is improving in direct correlation with how strongly and actively I’m riding.



What’s a time that you or your trainer decided to up the ante?

25 thoughts on “Goals Take Work!

  1. Monica V 09/16/2016 / 10:20 am


    Sidenote though I love how you spell it all out, love.

    He also is shiny AF and I want to steal hims.


    • hellomylivia 09/16/2016 / 10:29 am

      He wantses you to come see him. Come visit and give him cookies.


  2. Heather 09/16/2016 / 10:49 am

    Ugh riding like a German is so hard. It works so well for a lot of those warmblood types, but dang it makes everything hurt for a little while.


    • hellomylivia 09/16/2016 / 10:50 am

      EVERY MUSCLE HURTS. I’ll do it for Frankie since it makes such a major difference in how he goes but owwwww my abs


      • Heather 09/16/2016 / 10:51 am

        Next your butt will be screaming. It’s so fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. SprinklerBandits 09/16/2016 / 12:32 pm

    Ha! Yes. All these things. Can’t wait to see where you guys are next year!


    • hellomylivia 09/16/2016 / 2:43 pm

      Me too! If two weeks makes this much of a difference, 52 should transform is entirely haha


  4. Stacie Seidman 09/16/2016 / 1:59 pm

    Geeze… why do we have to work SO HARD? I thought all we did was sit there 😉


    • hellomylivia 09/16/2016 / 2:43 pm

      That’s what I keep telling my trainer! She said “kicking and steering” wasn’t quite up to par


  5. Micaylah 09/16/2016 / 3:22 pm

    Yeah that still seems to blow my mind pretty often hehe


    • hellomylivia 09/19/2016 / 9:32 am

      It’s like an earth-shattering revelation for me every three weeks or so haha


  6. Liz Stout 09/17/2016 / 7:13 am

    I like the breakdown of goals by gait here. I think you’re gonna nail them all – especially with the advent of 2 lesson/week with one private! Y’all are gonna kill it in the show ring next year.


    • hellomylivia 09/19/2016 / 9:33 am

      Haha I need to break it down to keep it all straight! I’m so excited to see where we go next year 🙂


  7. shelbyrallen 09/17/2016 / 11:10 am

    Better riding makes your horse go better…? I might have to try that one out. Seems promising.


    • hellomylivia 09/19/2016 / 9:35 am

      It seeeeeems right. I’ll have to let you know how it goes 😉


  8. Centered in the Saddle 09/19/2016 / 9:36 am

    So exciting! We decided to up the ante earlier in the summer with similar things you’re talking about. More engagement, pushing from the hind, balance, adjustability. I LOVE that feeling you talk about with the trot, when you can instantly extend or collect. It just feels so cool! It is definitely hard though! I’m usually at least slightly sore after a ride these days. I actually picked up running on my off days so that I could get myself in better shape for riding!


    • hellomylivia 09/19/2016 / 9:37 am

      Yes that responsiveness is an amazing feeling! Man I need to run or something, I’ll bet that helps a ton!


      • Centered in the Saddle 09/19/2016 / 9:52 am

        The running really does help! I have noticed my stamina is getting better, particularly at our show this weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. CallyJumps 09/19/2016 / 3:09 pm

    Better riding? Who knew!?

    Sadly, it seems so simple, but it is SO HARD.


  10. carey 09/20/2016 / 5:28 pm

    That’s a lot of work. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. It’s the same work I need to be doing on Momo.


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