Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In the Arena # 80 - Well worth the wait + letting it all go

No computer access since last week, so my apologies for the sparse posts. Also - thanks to our new followers. The weird blogger issues from a few weeks ago made it difficult to find out who you are until recently. Will be catching up on reading posts and comments over the next few days. Oh - and p.s. - I think my use of the term horse p*rn the other day (that's what I call my horse magazines) caused some major traffic. Yikes!! Am I going to have any regrets due to this naive mistake?!


So - I've had just two lessons since last November - only one on my own horse. It's been exhilarating, frustrating, but mostly so challenging to be responsible for Val's and my dressage training... it was such a relief for us to finally work with my trainer again.

Friday was our travel day. After packing the truck and trailer - Val couldn't load fast enough once he sniffed out the extra special alfalfa kicker in his hay bag - we hit the road. I'm thankful for my fiberglass trailer. With temperatures in the mid nineties, Val was still (fairly) cool and comfortable. Our 3 1/2 hour ride was smooth, but best of all, safe. After arriving and getting Val settled in, I trailered a horse from another farm across town back to my trainers place. Dinner + a movie and day one was done.


We had three lessons, two Saturday and one Sunday. Started off with some groundwork refreshers. I have not been consistent in my space boundaries lately when Val and I are leading and hand grazing, so he has been disregarding my authority ;) Erin reminded me that when I correct him, I have to mean it. To put the absolute fear of god in Val if he steps one inch into my space, doesn't stop on a dime, etc. every single time! My inconsistent leadership stresses him out - he's much happier when I make the decisions. This work had immediate benefits under saddle - what a good boy!

Is it time to work? No? Ummm, cookies then?!

 On to our main objective - relaxation. We did numerous exercises that loosened me up.... ankles, hips, arms and torso. At one point I was dancing to the trot (doing the twist)... totally fun, and Val was loving it. I became very aware of where I hold my tension. It was amazing how Val's movement became freer, smoother and bigger once I let go and stopped blocking him. There was lots of blowing and snorting + grateful looks. :) Here's what I want to keep in mind:

What I thought I was addressing with more leg - sluggishness, lack of forwardness - was really Val trying to cope with me being tense and unbalanced.

No holding. No holding tension in your body, or more importantly in your mind. It blocks your horse - and if you keep it up - pretty sure it pisses them off.

No holding your aids either. Adjust him and trust him. Trust is not 95%, 98%, 99.9% - it is 100% or nothing.

You cannot prevent mistakes. You need to allow your horse to make an error, and then you have an opportunity to correct it. I had a major realization of how often I am guilty of this. It's an insidious form of not being in the moment.

Overall, the weekend with my fabulous guy was so wonderful. He enjoyed grazing, friends, attention, the grass... don't forget the grass! I can't wait to do it all again, but in the meantime, I'll be focusing on loosening up so we can boogie!

Nancy and Lad

Ashley and Howard

Bud and Val grooming - Lad watches longingly

Lovin' feelings


  1. Safe trip - dancing on horseback and fun for Val and friends! Sounds like a perfect weekend - So great!

    I love your photos.

  2. So good that you got over to your trainer for the weekend. It's so nice to have a tune-up once in a while with good work that you can bring back to your farm too.

  3. I like what you say about mistakes. I learned from a very wise person that mistakes are good things. They give you the opportunity to teach the horse what they did wrong and how they can make it right. Change your perception of "mistakes" to "teaching opportunities" and you'll be all set.

  4. So, all I have to do is include suggestive phrases in my posts and I'll get more hits? Hmmmm....

    As far as mistakes go, the lessons I remember best are the ones where I completely screwed it up first, and then had to fix it!

  5. Sounds heavenly. Days of horse time, horse people and great lessons. Interesting re holding tension and blocking the horse. I'm so guilty of that. I'll try to remember this post to keep on track.
    Oh, and thanks so much for the great comment you made re the arthritis. Greatly appreciated.

  6. It is so interesting how much of yourself you really do project on to your horse. I remember way back in the day, It would be chaos at home so off to the barn I'd go to seek relief from it all and hop on my horse. There I'd be agravated at what was going on home, my horse acting all grouchy too, having an very unproductive ride, and just overall not "in the moment" with my horse. Nothing ever productive came from it. Looking back I'm surprised he even put up with me.
    It sounds like a very good trip for you both.

    PS Thanks for stopping by my blog today! It was definitely grass, I had to "deal" with the evidence...ugh.

  7. I'm very guilty of trying to prevent the mistakes instead of letting them happen. Guilty enough that I had reached the point with my guy where I was NAGGING him all the time and in turn, inadvertently making him dead sided. :/ Once you realize you're doing it you realize how MUCH you do it! I have to make a conscious effort not to nag and to just let him screw up so I can use the mistake as a lesson.

    Glad you had a good trip! Can't beat weekends like that.


  8. Gosh, Val is SUCH a looker. What a beautiful boy. Sounds like a fabulous weekend, and I LOVE the last two pictures. What gorgeous horses!

  9. Whew to a safe trip. Even better that you learned stuff. I sometimes let my horse invade my space too. I must stop thinking that it is cute! Your pics are terrific. Love the big blue sky. Reading about relaxation while on horseback is a good idea! Thanks for a reminder that tension only creates trouble where there might be none!

  10. Thanks for a really informative post, I am going to try this 'loosening up' next week!

  11. Our trainer has a sign posted in her tack shed that reads:
    "There are no mistakes - only

  12. What a great post! Some great reminders of things to keep in mind for myself. I'm glad you had such a great time. And I laughed my butt off at your "naive mistake." I'm guessing that most of that traffic isn't really the kind you want to keep around!! Lol!


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