Posted by: shannonc | September 11, 2009


I took the pony for a stadium lesson yesterday.  My goal was for him to leave feeling like a rock star, but not to kid-glove the work – better to have stops on Thursday than Saturday.

The morning was cool and the pony was a little high.  He wanted to play cruise director, checking out the workers, chatting with the other horses, and even threw in a spook or two at silly things.  One of them must have been biggish because I heard a yell of “WELL SAT!” from the sidelines.  Goofball!

We started with a partial course of xrail, ninety degrees to green barrels that used to scare the pants off me – the ones he wouldn’t go anywhere near a year ago.  Spinning and spooking his no, no, no refrain.  Aside from not being able to get the lead I wanted, the combination rode well.  It was good practice because since he doesn’t have clean changes, in the ring I’ll need to decide quickly whether to go on the off lead or try to trot and change.  I actually prefer in competition to go from the wrong lead as long as I can support him well enough to keep him from cross cantering and balance him well enough to make the turn.  Working through it yesterday I made a few mistakes but he was fairly good natured about them.  Sometimes he lets me make an error and sometimes he says no, I can’t do Y if you do Z.  But he doesn’t get angry or scared anymore, he just schools me ;)

We added turns, height and fences including a skinny, a single barrel, a black and white cutout panel he’s never seen before, and a 33-foot oxer to vertical combination until the full course was BN or better.  He was wonderful.  He gave me mostly good distances and landed 90% of the time on the lead I wanted.  He looked at and thought about the new things, and hopped one like a bunny, but he didn’t try to slam on the brakes or run through his shoulder.  He was excited and listening and we even worked on making bigger adjustments sooner, which he answered really beautifully, as if to say, Mom, you just had to ask!

King Oak stadium is somewhat legendary for its difficulty.  It’s looky, on uneven terrain, the course design is challenging, and it is almost always a game of pick-up sticks.  Also, it’s supposed to rain there all day today and on and off tomorrow.  We will need to put all the confidence we’ve gained and all the skills we’ve learned to good use to get through the phase well.

I left really excited for the event, and the pony absolutely did end feeling like a rock star. 

I do hope he holds that thought, but I’m finding right now it’s not the one I’m holding.  Our good lesson didn’t make me dream of a high placing.  This event is a test.  We will probably do some things well, and we will almost certainly make some mistakes.  There will be more tests, and, I hope, more progress.  Overridingly, this lesson made me remember the spinning away from barrels pony, the bolting at slamming porta-potty door pony, the getting loose and being worried pony, the bucking over six inch crossrails pony I had in April of this year.  It made me think of the stuff, in other words, that we’ve already won.



  1. YAY!!!! You guys are going to rock and I’ll be there to witness it!!!! =)

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