Daybreak Exercises

As part of ramping up to finals, I’m trying to hop in a few extra lessons. The more time I can get my trainer’s eyes on me, the better!

So last week Trainer asked if I wanted to sneak in a weekend lesson. I naturally said, “Of course! As long as it isn’t at 7am or anything crazy like that ha ha ha” you can see where this is going.

Yep. The only time we could fit in was 7am on Sunday.

Like a dutiful idiot, I set my alarm for 5:45am and was bringing Francis in from the field by 6:30 (he’s currently on overnight turnout). He seemed a little confused that he wasn’t immediately getting his breakfast, but was surprisingly snuggly as I was tacking up. Apparently Morning Francis is extra happy.

7am barn
I gotta say, the barn is stunning at the crack of dawn.

Despite the early hour, this ended up being a fantastic lesson! It was a private lesson because I was the only one dumb enough to go along with Trainer’s demonic schemes great ideas so we got to focus in on some specific exercises for Frankie.

One of these is bending/counter-bending along with haunches-in/out on a smallish circle. Moving his bum and asking him to bend through his  body gets him connecting so much more solidly to that outside rein. I think part of that connection comes from physically asking his body to step under and respond to the aids, but part of it is mental- it tells him that he is not a trail pony today and he needs to engage. Once we get that connection and engagement in our trot work, the impulsion and pace throughout our canter and coursework improves noticeably.

We also had a great canter pole exercise set up: simply three poles on the ground. They were walked at about 3 strides apart, but slightly different distances. We worked on adjusting our stride in there: 3 strides to 3 strides, 3 strides to 4 strides, 4 strides to 4 strides, 4 strides to 3 strides. So hard, especially with the different distances between them!

The 3-3 was decent- we had to stay balanced to shorten/lengthen a little based on where we were, but nothing crazy. And the 4-4 was ok too- we just came in a little bouncier and held that shorter stride. The 3-4 was definitely hard- we had to really open up for the 3, but immediately ask to shorten in the second half which meant he had to be super tuned into my aids. And the 4-3 was tough too- we wanted to super-collect in strides 1-2 so stride 4 could be powerful enough to set us up for the 3 strides out.

All of these variations tied in so well with what we’ve been working on lately. The biggest thing is that when we collect and bounce through a turn, it allows me to push to the base instead of pulling to the base. And then suddenly the skies open up and the angels sing and Frankie jumps out of his skin and we land balanced and the world is a better place. So I was glad we got to work on an exercise to a) improve my ability to ask for different stride lengths and b) improve Frankie’s sensitivity to those cues so that I get a reaction more quickly.

On to the jumping! Man, I hate trot jumps. I’m not very good at them. I trotted a few x-rails without stirrups last week and Trainer mentioned that I wasn’t very good at it (she said it with love), and I reminded her that I’m not very good at them with stirrups either. Womp womp. Once we managed to fling ourselves over a crossrail with moderate success we moved on to build up the exercise.

And I LOVED this exercise.

7am lesson


So a rollback left turn to the end jump, right turn long approach down to the ivy barrels, left up the corner tree jump, bend left up the brick wall, and right turn across the same end jump, turning left to finish. Jumps were big enough to force an effort from Francis without being intimidating.

The first time was….ok. We ended up getting a little chippy to the ivy barrels since I didn’t keep us straight and packaged, which meant that we got a late change through the turn and the tree jump was a bit unorganized. Brick wall was fine, but I overshot my turn to the end jump and Frankie (god bless him) had to scramble a bit to get to the jump.

I made a really nice mixture of mistakes here- sometimes I held too much to the base, sometimes I kicked too much to the long spot, sometimes I faded left, sometimes I drifted right. I’m non-discriminatory in my bad riding.

So we talked about how to fix it. The main image to keep in my head was keeping Frankie on the tracks- straight laterally and connected between my leg and hand. Keeping that image definitely helped me smooth out our track and get more straightness.

The end jump to ivy worked out great- I picked him up and got him off my left leg through the turn, which let me send him up to the base. Because we were straighter and more balanced, we got an early change and a nicer turn to the tree. Brick wall was good, then I sliced the end jump a little right to left instead of trying to line it up straight. That meant our track from brick to end was smoother, and it meant that Frankie knew he was turning left afterwards. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better than before!

While it was only 5 jumps and seems like a fairly simple exercise, this was a great test for us. We had to be able to manage tight turns and long approaches, upright verticals and wide fill, and pay attention to our basics- pace, straightness, and connection. Everything came up correctly when we had our basics covered. Funny how that works.

I would lesson again at 7am in a heartbeat! I didn’t realize how much I missed my private lessons.

I loved being doing by 8am too. I took my time cleaning my tack, went to Dunkin and grabbed coffee and doughnuts for the early bird crew, gave Frankie a super intense bath, and just had some bonding time with my horse. He so clearly thrives on that sort of attention and so do I.

Only two weeks until we’re on site for finals! Getting so excited.

Do you like to ride/lesson early in the mornings?

17 thoughts on “Daybreak Exercises

  1. tntibbetts 08/10/2017 / 8:36 am

    Early morning is the only way to go in Texas summer! I was riding before work for a couple weeks, but the weather has “cooled” off so evenings haven’t been too killer on weekdays. Weekends are all about tacking up by 7a. I have 3-4 horses to ride so this has me finishing around noon and by that time I think I’m going to die of heatstroke. And I always get as early lessons as possible on weekends for reasons you mentioned, to have it done and get to spend time just ditsy doodling around. 🙂 Good luck at finals!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 08/10/2017 / 8:42 am

      Usually July-August here is totally unbearable, but we’ve had a string of really lovely cool days for the past few weeks. I can’t complain since it makes perfect riding weather, but it weirds me out a little 😛 Man I am in awe, getting 3-4 horses done in the heat is so impressive! I’m like a limp noodle after 1-2 haha


  2. Avery 08/10/2017 / 10:16 am

    Early mornings are the best! The best and only in Texas summer!!!


  3. Hillary H. 08/10/2017 / 10:22 am

    I like to beat the heat but I don’t love getting up early. Soooo I normally ride later in the morning. It’s nice to still have a full day left after the barn though!


    • hellomylivia 08/10/2017 / 1:08 pm

      Yeah I am NOT a morning person in the least. The things I do for lessons!


  4. the_everything_pony 08/10/2017 / 10:55 am

    I love riding in the early morning. I just have a really hard time waking up that early unless I’ve scheduled with someone or I have to get to work after I ride. Otherwise I like midmorning because sleep lol.


    • hellomylivia 08/10/2017 / 1:08 pm

      Ugh yes I need a concrete motivator to get out of bed. Otherwise I talk myself into sleeping in when my alarm goes off haha


  5. Stacie Seidman 08/10/2017 / 3:14 pm

    I have the hardest time getting going early. (Hence my lack of running this entire week, doh!) But once I’m up and moving, I love getting things accomplished early.
    Sounds like a really great exercise. I can’t wait to read all about finals!


    • hellomylivia 08/10/2017 / 3:31 pm

      Ugh totally agreed- I HATE getting up early, but then I’m always in such a good mood when I have the whole day ahead!!


  6. Kate 08/10/2017 / 3:48 pm

    I am not a morning person, but I love riding in the morning. It’s so quiet and calm, and I just feel like I have more time (even if I don’t) because the whole day is ahead of me. In school, I’d ride before going into clinics, and it just made my day so much better starting it doing something I love.


    • hellomylivia 08/10/2017 / 3:50 pm

      That quiet still morning air is so seriously therapeutic 🙂


  7. Karley 08/10/2017 / 8:47 pm

    Dedication at its finest!!

    You go girl!!


    • hellomylivia 08/11/2017 / 6:58 am

      Haha Frankie is about the only thing I’ll drag myself out of bed for 😉


  8. Rocking E Cowgirl 08/10/2017 / 11:55 pm

    I love riding in the morning! Once you’re done, you feel so accomplished and it gives a great boost to the rest of your day.


    • hellomylivia 08/11/2017 / 6:58 am

      For sure, I always end up being so much more productive on days I ride early!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s