Fancy Flatwork and Curvy Courses


How many of you guys watched Harrisburg this past weekend? Man, the course diagram looked fairly simple but it did NOT ride simply.


Not a ton of jumps, but those end oxers were TOUGH, and the bending combo too. Plus getting the same strides from 5/8 to the combo in both directions. This course seriously asked some hard questions and the kids who ended up on top had to work their butts off to get there.

Naturally, my trainer returned from Harrisburg inspired to inflict this same course on her students. Which brings me to our lesson this week. Which I am still sore from.

For a change, I’m actually going to talk about our flatwork for more than 10 seconds, since we worked on it a LOT this week. I mean, we always do, but this was some next level stuff.

Trot work: I have gotten better about offering a consistent, steady contact to Frankie, and now it’s his job to take that contact and meet me halfway. It was interesting- he’s always been stronger at connecting to the outside rein going to the left, but I felt more connected going to the right this week. My suspicion is that my monster right leg is the culprit here- it’s so much stronger than my left leg, it isn’t even funny.

Trainer had me drop my stirrups and work at the sitting trot for a GOOD long time to help me sit deeper and develop a better feel for Frankie’s movement. Lots of big circles, small circles, counter-bending to the correct bend, shoulder-in down the long side. I’m still working on keeping more still and connected when asking for that shoulder-in, but Frankie was very obliging about giving it to me when I asked properly. Now I just have to ask properly more! We focused a lot on straightness, power from behind up into the bridle, and getting him moving off my leg.

Canter work: homeboy doesn’t get to take a couple flail-y steps to move from the walk to the canter. After a couple sloppy departs, we were able to sharpen these up. We also worked heavily on our canter-walk transitions, with the intent of stepping under and moving into a nice flowing forward walk.

We still have a ways to go to get these truly sharp, but there’s definite progress there. We used to coast down half the long side and ooze into a shuffling walk and we’ve definitely cut down the time it takes. I need to remember to sit tall and engage my core when asking for the downwards so Frankie can’t lean on my hand and dive down.

Here’s a clip of some of our flatwork:

Some things I need to work on position-wise that will help Frankie out, but super proud of my boy for putting his thinking cap on and working so hard!

On to the jumping. And guys. It was a doozie. Here’s the diagram:


First course: 1, turn right over 2, hairpin turn left over 3. Overshooting the turn to 2 and slicing that left to right gave a little more room to the turn to 3. Barely. Woof.

Second course: 1, turn right over 2, hairpin turn left over 3, bending 4a to 4b in one stride, out over 5 in two strides.

This added a challenge over 3- I had to stay very straight so that there was room to turn to 4. Then it was a big one-stride, so we had to cowboy out of that turn to gallop out the 1 to the 2. Still woof.

Full course: 1, turn right over 2, hairpin turn left over 3, bending 4a to 4b in one, bending out over 5 in two, immediate right turn over 6, hairpin left over 7, up 5 the other way, bending in two to 4a, then two strides to 4b, turn right over 3 the other way, then loop back over 2 the other way.

HOLY BAJEESUS. The first part rode the same, then 6 and 7 came up decently. It was a bit gallopy from 7 back to 5, then had to really shape and press for the 2 strides to the combo. Then fitting two strides in there was HARD. We really had to shape that combo.

The first time through I accidentally put 3 strides between 5 and the combo, which made the two-stride much easier to fit in. Apparently that counts as cheating though, so we had to go back and make it a two to a two.

So yeah. A very challenging course modeled after the questions asked in the Harrisburg course.

Thoughts on the jumping: my auto release is getting there. It still isn’t muscle memory, but it felt like an improvement from last time. I also felt stronger in my leg- again, not completely where it needs to be yet, but progress. Frankie is jumping more cleanly when I support him better and get him to that tighter spot. Overall: we’re making steady progress together.

What needs work now is my mindset. If the distance isn’t coming up easily, I have a tendency to kinda give up and say “Frankie take the wheel.” I need to trust myself more and MAKE the striding happen. Frankie isn’t always right. He might not be thrilled about the tighter spot, but that’s what we need to jump powerfully and cleanly. He’s not going to get offended or fussy if I ride more actively, so I need to be a nosy pepper. Imma get jalapeno business.

And then best boy got a bath because apparently 82 degrees in October is a thing this year.

He might actually be a moose instead of a horse, need to get the DNA test done.

A few side notes as we wrap up here:

Send manfriend your questions! He’s really excited to share with all y’all. You can also feel free to send questions to me directly, on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Which brings me to some fun news:

We now have a Facebook page! That was pretty much the last thing on the social media to-do list for the blog, so go check it out and follow along for yet ANOTHER way to get your daily dose of Francis. Also please tell me what you usually share on Facebook and how you manage all your social media accounts and general tips on time-management and how to be an adult OK thanks.

What kind of lateral work do you like to incorporate to get your horse moving off your leg?

17 thoughts on “Fancy Flatwork and Curvy Courses

  1. Allison Stitzinger 10/20/2016 / 10:06 am

    #1 Those courses are insane. Wow.
    #2 What the fruitbat is with this weather?!
    #3 Leg yield and shoulder-in are my warmup jam. Sometimes I forget about them, and then I remember, and I’m like OH HEY HERE IS MY PONY CONNECTING INTO THE OUTSIDE REIN WHO KNEW.


    • hellomylivia 10/20/2016 / 10:55 am

      “What the fruitbat” is my new favorite phrase hahaha


  2. carey 10/20/2016 / 10:20 am

    Oof, what a tough course. But it would be fun to try it.


  3. Hillary H. 10/20/2016 / 12:35 pm

    Fun course!

    As for time management I am exceptionally horrible at it so I cannot help. I try not to post more than 2 things on FB a day and insta I usually stick to 1-3 pics (more if I am somewhere fun). I think it widely various though as you have some people that share everyone and others that rarely do more than their actual post.


    • hellomylivia 10/21/2016 / 8:54 am

      Thank you for the tips! I’m such a bad Millenial, I’m so late to all the social media stuff haha


  4. Heather 10/20/2016 / 1:04 pm

    OK, that course is hard enough in the ring at Harrisburg. Smooshing it makes it 10x harder. Ouch. Also I’m super over this summer in October thing. The heat index was 113 in my lesson on Sunday. I thought I might die.

    My warm up really varies. We’re going back to a lot of basics right now, so most of my jumping warm up is based on getting a true and honest connection without getting above or behind the vertical. The most helpful thing I start with once we’re warm is going from a working trot to a big loose trot and back so that Val can trust my hand, and then we’ll add in some leg-yielding and sometimes shoulders/haunches in to separate all the parts.


    • hellomylivia 10/21/2016 / 8:56 am

      113???! Jaysus, I thought 82 in October was bad enough.
      I really like that idea of loosening and picking back up a couple times, I’m def gonna give that a go with Francis


  5. Jenn 10/20/2016 / 2:25 pm

    Franklin has the fanciest of pants.


  6. Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership 10/20/2016 / 3:33 pm

    I followed you on fb. That Harrisburg course is really cool. I like how it really makes you change things up and think and not just ride outside line to diagonal line, etc.


    • hellomylivia 10/21/2016 / 8:57 am

      Yay thank you for following!
      It was definitely super thought-provoking at every stride, that mental aspect was huge


  7. Stacie Seidman 10/21/2016 / 10:47 pm

    Trying to fit that Harrisburg course into your not enormous indoor ring must have been extra challenging! Nice work getting through that!
    I can give zero advice on the blog facebook page. I do the worst job of remembering to post on mine.

    Liked by 1 person

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