Tuesday, September 2, 2014

lesson in Rochester

Last week I mentioned that I used to live in Rochester and was going back for a visit over Labor Day Weekend. It was so much fun!!!

big headed horse is big headed

I have so many good memories of that place, and a lot of my friends (both equine and otherwise) are still there. 

lad's a good friend

The lesson itself was pretty solid too. This trainer always knows how to make me feel good and confident, and had us hopping around a 2'6" course like no big deal. (it helps when you're on a large bomb-proof lesson horse). 

lad demonstrates the universal 'between course nap' perfected by generations of lesson ponies

Lad actually wasn't so bomb-proof when he moved to the barn around 2005. He was 7ish, I believe, and off the track with very little training otherwise. He knew how to go fast, but didn't really have brakes or steering, and has never been particularly sensitive. Plus there's not a whole lot going on inside that {massive} head of his. 

But he has a HUGE heart and really truly wants to please his rider. So getting him going in the lesson program and able to be ridden by other people besides me was very rewarding. 

lad demonstrates that below a certain height, jumps are just exaggerated canter strides

So he is always a really good horse for me to ride these days, since I know him so well and he's turned into such a baby sitter. It's funny - he's the complete opposite of Isabel.

My trainer zeroed in immediately on my 'defensive' riding stance. The spots all looked long to me (naturally, a bigger horse frequently means a bigger stride. duh emma), and I wasn't really committing. My shoddy confidence manifests itself in distrust of the horse. And with Isabel, she's so adjustable and handy that we can almost *always* fit in another stride. 

But not so with Lad. He's a big guy and handles like a freight train. He'll take you straight up to the spot he wants, and all you need to do is go with him regardless of what you, personally, think of that distance.

they always have the prettiest jumps

Once I stopped getting left behind and got my eye in sync with Lad, things really clicked right on along. The 2'6" oxers didn't look like anything from his back and everything just felt very natural and comfortable.

hey look ma - i actually let go of his face!!

We even started getting the normal horse strides once I let him go and stopped burying him. I swear - this horse can count better than most riders. He says, 'um emma? i know you want to do six here... but, uh, it's a five. just hang on and lemme do my job, k?'

roll backs on a freight train require advanced planning

The courses were all pretty standard for hunter land - usually starting with an inside single, to outside line, to diagonal line, back to other outside. We also threw in a roll back (which blessedly was to the left, as Lad lands on his left lead every. single. time.) and a comma (aka a bending line, tho we rode it quite straight).

Sometimes I wonder how much more I'd be up for as a rider if my horse was like Lad. Don't get me wrong - Isabel is an extremely game mare and is capable of doing all the things I want to do. But she's a more technical, sensitive ride and is less forgiving. It's harder for me to get to that same level of trust with her, tho it is happening (albeit slowly). But still... when I'm actually in the market for a horse of my own, it'll ideally be more like Lad.

Anyways, the videos were terribly mangled during the transfer from phone to computer (anyone know how to load videos directly from the app??), and will probably be even worse after going through blogger... but here they are anyway in all their grainy glory. 

The progression in my riding is clearly visible (lol actually probs not with the bad video quality) in that in the first two videos I obviously get left behind at a few fences, but finally in the last one I've got it figured out. You might want to mute the volume, however, as there is lots of random chatter lol:

video 1 - needs work

video 2 - better

video 3 - finally getting the hang of it


  1. He's a cute boy. You guys look great!

    1. thanks! he's so much fun :) just wish i got to seem him more often than once a year!

  2. looks like a fun time!

    1. fun indeed! it's always a blast to shake up the routine a bit, ride some different horses !

  3. I also have trouble adjusting to a large strided creature. My old horse was smaller and had a smaller stride and we would have to gallop for the distance.

    1. seriously. i always want to slow down and compress into the jump so i was *positive* we'd have one more stride. fortunately he's a good boy and just ignored my shenanigans lol