Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now You Must Trot

"Now pick up the trot"  Linda waited.  I fiddled.  I squirmed.

"What do I do if she won't trot?"  I adjusted my legs and hunched my shoulders.  Linda looked at me like I had grown a second head.

"Just trot.  Just do it.  Don't adjust anything.  Don't change anything, just trot."

"But..."  Linda waited patiently, though her expression was pretty clear that there wouldn't be any 'buts' today.  I sighed and asked Tessa to trot.  She tossed her head and reluctantly slogged into a painfully slow jog, dragging her toes.  My pony has perfected the resentful trot, complete with tail swishing, ear pinning and the occasional head toss with dirty look.  She's an Arab so she can swivel her head and neck around to give me the evil eye, while still maintaining a painfully slow trot.

"Okay, now bring her to a walk and go back to moving her hindquarters.  Tap, tap.  Yes!  Bring her head around.  Remind her that leg means move. "

After a few tail swishes and a few circles of the shoulder, Tessa finally lowered her head and moved her hindquarters.

"Yes!  Good girl!  Now let her move forward and go right back to trotting."

Forward we went, into a marginally faster trot.  It was still slow, but it was almost a trot and not a jog.

"More trot!"

I squeezed and tapped and panted.

"When she is trotting, stop asking."

I stopped asking.  Tessa stopped trotting.


I asked for trot and Tessa gave me the pony finger, along with a big kick and a buck.

"Now circle.  Back to the circle.  Tap, tap, tap!"

I tapped.  I asked.  I could feel Tessa's energy coming up as we went from walking the circle, to trotting it.  I kept the energy coming up as her head came down.  And then we were off again, trotting!  Two strides later and I tried relaxing my legs.  Tessa immediately slowed down.  I asked again and followed up with the whip.  I felt her body tense up for the tantrum.

"Circle her!  Inside leg to outside rein.  Stop throwing your outside rein away.  Bend your elbow, keep your hand soft and steady.  Don't worry about her head, just keep your hand near the pommel and let her come INTO the rein off of your leg.  Good girl!"

We circled again, the energy coming up even more and the submission coming faster.  We went back to trotting.  I relaxed my legs.  And for a few minutes we had contact, submission and a forward trot.  My hand stayed where it was supposed to and my leg moved her gently into the contact.

"That's it.  That's where you want her to be.  Just keep holding that outside rein steady and she'll come into it.  If she raises her head like a giraffe and makes that rein short, you just leave it steady and use your legs to ask her to come back into it.  Do NOT pull back or give that rein to her.  Let her find her boundaries."

And so we found some boundaries and we found a decent trot.  Then we did some cantering, but it wasn't good enough to write about.  Thankfully it also wasn't bad enough to write about.  She just wasn't in front of the leg enough and so we worked on keeping her in front of the leg when she fell back into trot.  I'm sad that I won't be able to ride again until Friday because I'm excited to put my new skills in place.  However, I'm super grateful that I have not one, but two awesome trainers to help me out.  They always have different perspectives and different things to offer.  And in April, the pony goes into training.  Yes, real training.  That's gonna be so exciting!!


  1. Sounds like a really good session, with a lot of productive things accomplished!

  2. I got the "great ride glow" just from reading this. Sounds like you are learning some great tools. Yay for lessons!

  3. I know I probably keep repeating myself, but you are making great progress with Tessa. Having understanding talented trainers makes all the difference - ups your confidence too.