Posted by: shannonc | August 7, 2009

Sarah’s idea

Sarah and I were chewing over our ponies’ performances at AKF (as we are wont to do…oh, never, really!) and she mentioned that Denise sat the trot for Buck’s whole test.  I thought…hmmmm.

So I went out and flatted the pony yesterday.  I was thinking: simple.  After all – keep it simple stupid = KISS right?!  Couldn’t be more perfect…in theory of course.  My first ambition was to work on getting him more confirmed in front of my leg and I started at the walk.  When I free walked and he died off, rather than nagging him with seat and ankle I just gave him a little boot.  When he swung and walked forward I left him alone; when he died back again, another boot.  He got it very quickly that I wasn’t going to bother him if he was walking nicely forward.  One million more iterations and maybe I’ll get it in a test ;).  He needs to be more in front of my leg, it will help in the canter transition too.  I haven’t picked on it so far this year because sometimes it helped me to keep his lid on if I kept him gradual, gradual gradual for the up transitions.  But it’s time now, he can handle it and understand the difference between going forward and exploding.

For the trot work I tried sitting.  I concentrated on helping him by holding in my thigh and keeping my back very loose.  Each time he fell behind my leg and the vertical, I closed my calves.  It required much less actual movement and coordination in the half halt than if I’d been posting…I liked it.  For whatever reason, it was also easier to keep the feeling of being behind him – by behind I just mean a dressage seat – to me it feels like being way back, that’s the hunter training rearing its ugly head!  – It allowed me to feel more effective.  If closing my calves didn’t work right away, I went to a couple strides of walk.  Soon the pony was getting the picture:  I stay here. 

I risked raising the bar a notch and tried some small figures and up transitions to canter from sitting.  So far he’s not allowed me to ask for canter from a correct bend, but it worked all right today – better – not great, but he was really trying to organize his feet to make it happen.  I did a few of these and went to stretchy trot – he really moved through his back for that, it worked well.

More more more.  I teach lessons and there’s always a part of me that worries when we aren’t doing exciting, different things.  Then I go home and school my own horses and remember how much you can accomplish working correctness at the small gaits in small steps.  Funny…

I think the sitting work helped a lot.  The pony seems to like when I’m working my thigh as an aid and it’s much more difficult to do that when posting. 

Thanks for the idea Sarahbelle!



  1. NO problem whatsoever ;) But me thinks your problems are different than the plow right through me pony, hehe!

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