First Lesson Back!

Frankie and I had a lesson this past weekend. Which may not seem like a huge deal but it TOTALLY IS BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T LESSONED SINCE MID-NOVEMBER OMG. Two months. TWO MONTHS. I literally have not had a lesson in two freakin’ months, and have jumped 2 crossrails in that time. BUT WE FINALLY DID THE THING.

I approached this lesson with a certain amount of trepidation- I am comically out of shape, out of practice, out of whack, out of pretty much everything. Frankie has been in his 2x/week program with AT for about 6 weeks now though, and this really ended up being our saving grace. We had decided to restart his bootcamp before restarting mine so that he could help me get back in shape, and it’s working exactly as intended.

I went for a jog with Nick to try to get back in shape and then my knee hurt because I am a decrepit piece of trash but my new leggings are cute so I made him take a picture to prove that I tried. It’s been a rollercoaster.

My trainer had me warm up a little differently than we have in the past. In the past we’ve been very much about setting the tone early, placing him where I want him from the get-go, and riding very strongly off the bat.

But this time, she told me not to worry about anything for a while. Don’t worry about trying for too much forward, don’t worry about asking for too much contact, just trot around for a bit to let him stretch his muscles. Ask for a little bend through the turns. Leave him alone. Leg steady and on but not nagging. We slowly started adding in some lengthening and collecting. A little shoulder-in down the long sides, then straight and forward. Big circle then smaller circle. Wide loopy serpentine. No pressure, no worries.

And you know what we got? We got a very very happy Frankie, who loosened and stretched over his back, softened up into the bridle, and kept a lovely light connection without hanging on my hand. It took longer than it does when I ride more strongly, but he was offering this up to me because he wanted to- not because I was telling him to. It was truly delightful. Especially because I lack the muscle strength to really place him where I want him, it was super cool to adjust how I ride to allow him to place himself.

Completely unrelated I just really like this picture from Christmas Eve at my in-laws. Yep, there’s a post-wedding mustache in the works.

Our jumping exercise focused more on letting Frankie place himself: halting after jumps. We’ve done this plenty of times and it’s always been tough. Once we get the momentum going for the jump, it’s hard for Francis to sit back on his butt to stop in a straight line! Continuing the theme from our warmup, Trainer had us approach it differently than we have in the past:

My job: stay straight over the jump, sit up, and steer straight towards the wall.
Frankie’s job: stop before he hits the wall.

That was literally it. No pulling. No arguing. He has enough self-preservation to not run into the wall, and I simply allowed him to exercise that.

I gotta tell you- it went against all my instincts to not try and pull up. But it WORKED. I know it isn’t rocket science, but it was so cool. Since day 1 Frankie has needed a lot of input on what to do with his body, and now that he’s so well-broke we’re turning our attention to building his ability to think for himself. It kept him super mentally engaged in the work even though the jumps were small and it set up him to give good answers. He was visibly proud of himself by the end.

While one of the purposes of this exercise was to let Frankie learn to stop himself, it was also a big exercise in straightness. Since these jumps were across the diagonal, it was natural that Frankie would continue on through the end of the ring, which often meant that he would lean a shoulder over the jump in anticipation. But every time we halted at the wall, I’d turn a different direction afterwards. After doing this a couple times, Frankie stopped leaning. He jumped straight over his body and CUTE. And he stopped anticipating the turn.

So eventually when I didn’t ask for the halt and instead asked him to continue through the end of the ring, he went straight into the corner with great balance, gave a beautiful change, and was right there waiting for my input up to the next fence. And all this with a fairly light steady contact.

You know how I know that it worked? Trainer said, “this is the kind of ride that would be really nice in a derby.”

That’s right, guys. After close to three years of working together to build our skills and abilities, we’ve developed our straightness, our balance, our body awareness, and our just-plain-cuteness to the point that my Trainer thinks we could put in a good showing in a hunter derby.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that he is the next Brunello and that is in no way an exagerration. PC- USEF Network

So it looks like we may be trying one out this season! Like I said before, we don’t have any crazy big competition goals for this year besides having fun, and it sounds super fun to try something new with the Frankfurter. Not to mention that I think he’ll have a good time with it too- while he’s learned to be a pro in the jumper ring, it’ll be a nice mental break for him to do something a little steadier and a little simpler. Trainer is a big proponent of her horses going in multiple rings for just that reason- switching it up and letting them try new things makes for happier horses.

I’m also a financial masochist and asked for a quote on showing at WEC in February. But more on that later.

PS- who wants to come hang out with me to take pics and/or videos? I have no images of me going faster than a walk since September 19th and I wish I was making that up. I’ll buy you tacos, I’m not above bribery.

17 thoughts on “First Lesson Back!

  1. stampyandthebrain 01/07/2019 / 11:06 am

    I wish I was going to WEC this year but my barn is going during the worst part of tax season. 😦 Like you my main goal for showing this year is to have more fun just like last year. I also plan to push myself outside of my comfort zone a bit (that’s easy since I have done one away show in the past billion years and only done the 2’6″ adults). Looks like you have a good season ahead!


    • hellomylivia 01/07/2019 / 11:15 am

      Aw boo! I’m excited to see what you and your #notachestnut boy get up to this season!!


      • Rachel - For Want of a Horse 01/07/2019 / 12:45 pm

        Kristen maybe we can go down and just watch Olivia and Francis since you can’t go with HR in April. I would like to meet Olivia but I would love to meet Francis. I am a total Frankie Fan Girl! Lol


      • hellomylivia 01/07/2019 / 12:52 pm

        That would be so cool if either/both of you could come hang out!! Frankie loves meeting my internet buds almost as much as I do 😉


      • Rachel - For Want of a Horse 01/07/2019 / 12:54 pm

        Let us know when you decide when you will be there! I tried to get Kristen to go last year. She will love the facility!


      • hellomylivia 01/07/2019 / 12:55 pm

        I’ll definitely keep you posted! I should be making the call this week- just pulling together a couple different options with my trainer to decide how we want to do it this year.


  2. Alex 01/07/2019 / 2:28 pm

    I’d totally get you some media if I wasn’t all the way across the country. lol


  3. Tracy 01/07/2019 / 4:00 pm

    If I’m in town when you’re at WEC, I’ll stop by again!


  4. Stacie Seidman 01/07/2019 / 4:25 pm

    If you were still in RI I could totally get you media… VA is a bit too big of a commute.
    Sounds like a fantastic lesson, and I think Frankie would LOVE to do a hunter derby!


    • hellomylivia 01/08/2019 / 7:37 am

      I’m still voting that you should come down for Upperville 😉 (and coincidentally come see us)


      • Stacie Seidman 01/08/2019 / 10:33 am

        Now that I have a functional equine, maybe it could happen!


  5. Liz 01/09/2019 / 7:21 am

    I’ll take some tacos. & some photos!

    …in the spring. When I’m not working 2 jobs and running around like a crazy person as much. But srsly, it’s a date. Maybe I’ll even make it over for a show.


    • hellomylivia 01/09/2019 / 7:49 am

      I’ll bring you ALL the tacos!!! But yes lets get you past some of the wildness you’ve got goin on first hahaha. I hope you can make it for a show or a clinic or something, I’ll def keep you posted on timing!!


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