Friday, July 22, 2016

mysterious case of the ever-shrinking dressage ponies!

I'm about 93% positive that dressage trainer C thinks I've gone completely off the deep end. She's.... probably correct lol.

It's easy to see where C's coming from. I've got Isabel, right? A pretty fun and fancy dressage horse who can take pressure and will keep trying and has been incredible to learn on. Izzy is solid on all of first level and has some pieces from second well in hand.

But did I bring Isabel to my latest dressage lesson? Nope. Did not. Brought this ridiculously tiny 4-5yr old Welsh pony instead.

majesty, thy name is Krimpet!
You all remember Krimpet, right? She belongs to my barn mate friend C (let's try not to get confused with all the Cs now!), and is supposed to get used in the lesson program too as a means to supplement the board payment.

i like that she makes my trailer look so spacious
The problem is that... well, she's a baby pony mare. ALL of which are four letter words lol (BUCK is a four letter word too!). She's very smart and very athletic and very green. Kinda a tricky combination. She's a sweetie tho, and perhaps an anomaly among baby pony mares: she legitimately wants to be a good girl.

If you can put her in a nice place and tell her she is good there, she will go back to that place again and again. It's just that getting her to that place requires... a good deal of strength and timing. Not pro-levels obvi, and she's not exactly unwilling... but generally it takes a little more than the typical 12yr old lesson student can give.

Unfortunately, when Krimpet doesn't feel like she has that good place to go, she gets frustrated. And... erm... is adept at dismounting her riders. Usually with some fantastic bucks. She's also become a bit of a quitter, esp as she gets tired.

Krimpet can get a little herd bound (noisily so) but is actually pretty darn quiet at the trailer for a baby
So I've gotten on her a couple times to see what's what. And she's honestly not unpleasant to ride! And I figured she could probably benefit as much from a lesson with C as I could. My own agenda being the following:

I've never ridden dressage seriously on any horse beyond Isabel. Everything I know about dressage court-worthy contact, bend, balance, carriage, whatever, I've learned with Isabel. I've jumped literally dozens of horses and have a fairly clear sense for what's needed there (not that I'm always very good at it haha).

But dressage is more alien to me; I have less experience. Even when I've gotten on schooled horses (like Pig, Star, Rico....) I've felt tentative and like I didn't know where to go with the basics like contact. Noel is honestly the first horse not named Isabel that I could just get on her and put her on the bit.

Therefore I'd like to address this by trying my hand at legitimate flatwork on a greater variety of horses - both schooled and green.

i'm pretty sure she was either mid-whinny or immediately-pre-whinny in this pic tho haha
Krimpet was a convenient step 1 in this process, esp given barn mate C's recent very busy schedule. And so off to TM pony and I went to see how dressage trainer C might transform us!

The results? Actually pretty good! It took a while to get the pony straight (she's very wiggly, and pushy-barge-y with her shoulders) so we stayed about 2-3yards off the rail almost exclusively, even through the short ends. And didn't do an awful lot of circling - lots of long straight lines off the rail.

Trainer C reminded me not to let a green horse pull me out of my position, and basically wanted me giving Krimpet a clear channel through which she could travel.

but omg loooooook how tiiiiiiny!!!! (side note: can someone plz to find me a full sized horse to ride?!?)
Krimpet got praised for her regular gaits and actually pretty steady contact. She never really got round, but stayed very steady in the bridle and by the end of the ride had released her underneck completely. C encouraged me to play more, and reward even the slightest of gives from Krimpet.

The pony legitimately does not know what it means to go round - we first need to show her how to follow the contact. So whenever the pony would soften I had to be really quick to soften too. And every now and then C wanted me to push my hands forward just to see if Krimpet would follow.

FINALLY got to take advantage of the fancy wash stalls tho
For the trot work, C had me really pushing the pony forward. More. MORE. And then let her fade. Then push her forward again. Partly I think to sharpen her to the forward aids, and partly for her to learn (eventually) to stay in whatever gear I put her in. C wanted the trot to feel like we could move more forward or bring it back at any given moment.

It was most important that the pony felt even on both sides. She's not actually particularly strong on one side over the other, but she's never really been made to go straight or not motorcycle around turns so her balance is kinda crappy.

bc as you may or may not recall, Isabel simply does not do wash stalls. nope, no way, no how.
We only did a short bit of canter in each direction (mostly honestly just running into the canter bc.... pony lol) and the turns through the short end were particularly hard for her. Especially tracking left I really struggled to help her off that inside fore leg around the turns. The name of the game was just keeping her inside ear in front of her inside shoulder. She kept trying tho, never quit!!

Krimpet was just fine. obvi with her trademark hoof shaking tho lol
We took lots and LOTS of breaks, but then right back to work again. The benefits here are twofold: it was legit hot as balls out and I was basically dying riding this thing (omg she is so much more of a physical ride than Izzy!); but also, the mare is notorious for quitting when she's tired. Only one way to fix that!

We finished by playing a teensy bit with lengthening the trot down the diagonals - and lil' miss thang actually got a step or two on each diagonal in our first few attempts, then put together maybe 3-4 really nice feeling steps on our final attempt (before breaking to canter). I was really pleased with her effort!

And then some little baby leg yields from the quarter line. C said it was more important that Krimpet understand what I'm asking than that the leg yields were extremely correct. In other words, she didn't want me just getting stronger and muscling the pony over. Krimpet caught on really quickly tho - and actually got sharp enough to just do 3 steps sideways then immediately straighten again. Good pony!

good pony is tired pony back at the trailer
We called it a day after that. And I dismounted and immediately sank down lower than I thought I could physically go without toppling over bc my legs were absolute jelly lol. (And let's not even talk about how I was sore for three days afterwards...).

I honestly couldn't have been happier with the pony tho. She grunted and groaned through some of the work, and made some mistakes, and occasionally took a little extra encouragement via whip tickles. But she never EVER gave a single threat in the direction of naughtiness (even when another horse started schooling in the arena) and never quit.

These is all good signs for Ms Krimpet's future I think, very promising! Not sure whether I'll take her back to C's any time soon (tho I'm toying with the idea of taking her to a jumping lesson. maybe. haha. maybe not we will see) but would definitely not be opposed to hopping on her every now and again.

Tho. On the other hand. I really would not mind riding a full sized horse one of these days too lol....



38 comments:

  1. She is so cute! I've developed a weird fascination with ponies. It's only weird because I'm too tall for them. Hopefully you can borrow a full sized horse soon.

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  2. I have two full sized horses that would love for you to come put them through their paces 😇
    Any chance your work has European offices/interests so you can come across the ocean? 😆

    Krimpet sounds adorable, she will have learned so much from this lesson. What a sweet sounding pony mare 😍

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    1. ha i will definitely let you know if i'm ever over that way!

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  3. If she goes missing she is definitely NOT in my barn... SO CUTE! How tall is she?! You are not that tall and she makes you look like an amazon!

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    1. lol she is definitely tiny. you can kinda get a sense for her height in the pic of us standing next to each other, or if you look back at our recent fair hill paper chase post in the pic where she's standing next to isabel (who is 14.3)

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  4. She's beautiful! I love ponies.

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  5. I second your opinion that krimpet is a perfect pony name. Sounds like an excellent lesson for the Pony!

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    1. i was honestly really impressed with her attitude about the work!

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  6. Okay, Krimpet is SO tiny, cute! It is really good to ride some dressage on different skill level horses, something I appreciate more and more as I get older. Glad she ended up with such a good attitude, sounds like she may have enjoyed herself!

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    1. yea i'm really enjoying switching it up right now for sure. it's been very useful in highlighting my own riding approaches haha

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  7. I'm so jealous of your ability to ride ponies.

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    1. lol i don't know if i'm actually any good at it but it's fun!

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    2. Me too, I haven't been able to ride ponies since I was about 15 ( so 10 years now lol *sobs*)

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  8. Just found your blog! I'm having fun trying to catch up on older posts. Krimpet is the perfect name and what a good sport. As hard as it is for us to ride different horses it has to be equally so on the horses end to get ridden by so many different people.

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    1. oh thanks for reading - just clicked over to yours too and am catching up!

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  9. She's so cute. I want to squeeze her.

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    1. she's surprisingly cuddly and sweet on the ground too!

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  10. She's a cute little pony mare!

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    1. so super adorable! (when she's not bucking off children haha)

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    1. idk how this keeps happening to me lol

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  12. Krimpet is so freakin cute! I wish I could ride a pony (I'm a 6 foot tall giant). I think it's awesome that you're helping to get her back into proper school horse form. :)

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    1. Ha yea I'm not even very tall and still feel like a giant on these ponies lol

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  13. She actually has the cutest name ever omg.

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  14. So I'm pretty sure I know Krimpet's owner as she looks just like the Krimpet whose pictures I've seen on facebook... Is it safe to assume C's last name starts with a D? What a strange, small world it is... Haven't seen C in years but we rode at the same barn years ago....

    Anyway, sounds like a fun ride. Nothing like an adorable pony with an attitude!

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    1. Small world indeed - yes it sounds like the owner is who you think it is!

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  15. PONIIIIIIEEZ. They're the worst hahah. I love her and her name and I want to smush her face < 3

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    1. Ha yup she is super smushable. Naughty but cute!!

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  16. You do seem to have a love for teh poniez! I cannot wait to see the real sized horse you pick out.

    I also really like your trainer's point about learning the aid vs. muscling them over. It really is important when you are training young horses, and I would like to think I have done this with Murray (for at least a few things!).

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    1. I liked that point a lot too - esp as someone who is still learning the finer points myself. Sometimes the pressure to just get it done takes over and I sacrifice the horses ability to understand - not great for greenies!!

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  17. You'd make so many dollars riding ponies in New Zealand haha, I am always seeing posts asking for pony riders to fine tune problem ponies on Facebook!

    Krimpet is the cutest thing with the cutest of names and sounds like she has a lovely work ethic too!!

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    1. Haha that would be funny! I'm not sure many (any?) people would actually pay me to ride their problem ponies but I'm sure it would be plenty fun!!

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