Monday, February 17, 2014

Mini Lesson

Despite my fantastic realization that I don't have to improve anytime soon and that any pony time is good pony time, I found myself on Sunday bouncing around on Licorice like I was on a pogo stick.  I was super focused on keeping my shoulders forward and lifting my upper body up, which meant the rest of my body was ramrod straight and stiff as a board.

Licorice took this opportunity to let me know that this was unacceptable and even after I relaxed a little bit, he took the bit, put his head in the air and just plowed around on the rail in a super rushed trot.  I was trying to wait him out, like I was supposed to but I was getting thrown around a lot and it was getting uglier and uglier.  Poor Licorice's only escape was to try to outrun my bad riding.

Thankfully, one of the women from my barn (who also gives lessons but is not one of the owners) helped me out.  I was getting frustrated and asked her if she had any tips about how I could get past this.  My BIG weak spot right now is that I don't know how to practice and I get off topic and frustrated super fast.

At the clinic, Brooke had told me to make sure that when I pick up the reins, Licorice is ready to work.  He picked up the bad habit of fussing with his head and trying to trot as soon as you pick up the reins.  She said to pick up the reins and make him walk into the contact.  Once he's going nicely, give him a long rein again.  Repeat this until he understands that picking up contact does not mean trotting.  So, this was my plan when I went out on Sunday morning.  It was a good plan, but I accomplished my goal in the first five minutes.  Huh.  So I had to move on.  I chose to work on sitting trot because neither Licorice nor I are particularly good at it.

First we worked at making sure Licorice was listening.  Much like T.Meyers had suggested, it involved coming back to walk or even a halt if necessary.  So when I tried to half halt, if Licorice was in another zone I would bring him back to walk.  Then we'd walk a few steps, pick up the trot again.  Right away, the minute he decided to start zooming off, I'd bring him back to walk.  Over and over and over.  After a dozen times doing this, I was then able to almost come to walk but keep on trotting.  Licorice may be a brute sometimes, but he is a quick learner for which I am grateful.  He got it right away and we had some lovely trot steps.

Once he was no longer rushing around, it was time to work on myself more.  I tried dropping my stirrups but I was not effective at staying balanced and keeping Licorice from reverting back to his runaway trot.  Mostly I worked on keeping my core engaged but relaxing my arms and letting my hips move.  For every twenty crap steps we got a good one.  So that's progress.

Then, we did the same thing with cantering.  If he's blowing off my aids, bring him down to a walk and rebalance.  Then, right before I ask for canter, think walk.  Licorice threw his head up at the last minute BUT his body stayed underneath me better and our canter was more of a canter and less of a gallop.

Once again, I'm so grateful for the barn that I'm at and the support I receive there.  And K (the woman giving me tips) said it was nice to teach someone who was far enough along to actually be able to fine tune things.  She usually teaches raw beginners, so for her I was an advanced student.  :)

I hope you all had a great weekend with your ponies!


  1. At least he's cute haha! I'm going through the same deal atm, it's taking me time (I can be such a slow learner...) but it's worth it

  2. Glad you guys are working through things and you are letting him know whose boss ;)

  3. Ha, I like your description of him trying to outrun your bad riding. That totally happened to me yesterday at one point in my lesson.