Monday, March 4, 2024

Printemps avec Mondeuse

It's been such an odd season with Doozy. She is a surprising horse for me in many many ways lol. And we've been going through a bit of a phase lately.

random ride last week in the jump ring during daylight!
For example, it was like we lost the ability to trot. Entirely. And it's not easy to pinpoint an exact reason, either.

nature walks to and from the ring = fun with friends!
She had more than a week off while I was in Cali after the dressage show -- which was itself kinda a stressful and weird ride in which she much preferred cantering to trotting. Then we immediately went to school the arena xc course at Loch Moy my first ride back. 

next up: solo survival in the dressage ring! the first (and hardest) of 3 forays into this ring in the last week
And after that? Trotting was for the birds. Boooring. Too slowwww. Only two speeds --- walk and GoFast! 

more nature walks, this time heading back up for ride #2 in the dressage ring this week.
fun fact, it must have been dinner time for the sheep bc the F*ing thing bum rushed us literally right after i snapped this picture! luckily nobody died, but sheesh c'mon sheep!
It didn't really seem to matter what ring we were in (even in the indoor), or whether we had company or not. And I tried a few different methods to address the issue. More or less determined that... Yea, it's mostly just a training issue on top of a horse who is perhaps inclined toward running anyway.

also our third ride in the jump ring this week!! asked for a photo bc omg trial saddle lol, more on that later
So ya know. Ok, cool. I kinda actually like finding opportunities to "pause" the progression -- or even hit rewind and go back to some basics. In this case, we canceled our planned dressage lesson, and I stepped back from higher pressure activities, and went back to high frequency / low intensity schooling sessions aimed at reinstalling our basic "wtc ride package."

she's clearly exhausted from so much mere existence lol
Just easy, short, no-muss-no-fuss rides where we only really trotted a circle or two at a time, and kept things reeeeally basic. Letting the canter happen when it was more or less balanced and polite, but that was about it. 

no rest for the weary tho -- i actually picked up two trial saddles, and so poor thing got ridden twice yesterday
And along the way, we've been taking advantage of longer days and mild weather to get more serious about riding in new and interesting locations. I've kinda let the indoor become my crutch, especially on days when I was thinking about wanting to do a "real ride."

again, asked for photos to start evaluating the saddles -- more later
But with stepping back the intensity... Well, that was less of an incentive for riding inside. Might as well get more exposure by exploring other areas! So this week we actually managed to get outside more often than in! 

got more than i bargained for tho when friend offered to snap video too! yes pls!!
And I think it's paying off, actually. Well. That, and riding daily lol. Turns out, routine consistency is a helluva drug lol. And just showing up every day to spend a little saddle time with Doozy has made a world of difference in getting us back into sync.

Tho it's interesting watching the video. Like obvi the point of the video, for me at least, was to see how I look in the trial saddle. Again, more on that in another post. 

somewhat shocked at doozy's relatively chill vibes this ride
But it's also pretty clear how quickly and completely I can revert to my deeply ingrained postural habits. Poor MP, she'd be so disappointed to see how I look lol!! Not that I'd made a ton of progress in the lessons, but you know what I mean.

like, we actually were able to trot normal circles without zipping off into canter every other step
Still tho... It's hard to argue with Doozy about this. Right now, she just goes better** when I ride her in my *me* sorta way. And right now, I care about just keeping us going, getting us consistent. The idea is always that we can refine the details later, I suppose, tho realistically it's getting pretty clear that change is hard haha!

(**The word "Better" here is honestly completely subjective... and maybe MP would argue with me about this too. Some folks would rather see a horse solidify posture, balance, contact FIRST, even if that means never trotting or cantering until the horse can do so "correctly." That is honestly not my personal philosophy. I'm not a purist. I'd much rather get out there and enjoy the ride --- preferably on a horse who is ALSO enjoying the ride. Better riders than me can get better results in both categories, sure, but this is my compromise!)

and in fact we actually cantered on purpose!! first time in this ring woot woot
So I dunno. We're having fun, tho. Doozy actually jumped a couple times this week too -- just a few very simple reps of trotting a little X and small vertical in the indoor one night, and then a more intentional full jump school in the outdoor jump ring later. 

kinda a weird shot but maybe helps give a sense for how the ring is sorta in some ways up above things with weird sight lines into various areas
That outdoor jump ring ride was the first time we could finally actually just.... trot around without her squirting up into canter at every opportunity. Honestly, it felt like I should capitalize on those chill vibes and reinforce the good behavior by finishing the ride with the flat work. 

also, not gonna lie, i was kinda so distracted by having a relatively quiet horse and getting video to watch later of the saddle, i wasn't really focusing much on my equitation or whatever. c'est la vie!
Buuuuuut... ehhhhhh jumping is FUN tho! So we went ahead and started jumping anyway, and yea she got a little faster and started wanting to canter everything. But whatever, right? It's my horse, I get to make the rules. So we cantered, and we jumped, and we actually cantered a couple jumps too! 

growing up i guess! also i *swear* this is my happy face lololol wtf emma
And then here she was in this ride, able to trot around again anyway! Actually able to do basically a completely normal ride in the dressage ring --- for the first time! 

So ya know. Sometimes there's a real advantage to just slowing things down, going back to the basics, keeping it simple. 

Doozy is such a funny horse bc the "hard" things seem to come most easily to her --- like jumping new and weird things in a crazy crowded schooling arena. It's just everything else that poses such a challenge, that is so hard. 

I like where things are at right now, tho. Feels like she trusts me and maybe honestly likes the job (esp the jompies part of it lol). And I suspect getting a saddle better fit to her delicate frame (but still nice enough that I don't keep pining for Charlie's dreamy french monoflap lol) might make a huge difference too. More to come on that situation soon!


  1. I think it’s pretty normal for things to go forward and back. And sometimes you just need to forget perfect and go for clear. Given her history and breeding I’m sure cantering feels like the natural gait for her. But man look how smooth she is!

    1. ha yea, definitely agreed --- turns out, it's hard and doozy hasn't exactly read the textbook lol... the back and forth feels like it's working for us tho, so we'll take it!

  2. I'm definitely hearing you on the backward steps and then some forward progress. It's difficult with the babies and also because they're also still growing. Dalton at 6 yrs old is at a different place mentally than our 7 yr old in the barn so you can't even do a comparison at the same age-ish. I try to do a lot of gauging around how they feel (comfortable or not) and if they're happy to be out and about. The joys of nonlinear progress!

    1. oh man, yea -- nonlinear is DEFINITELY the right word for it lol. and yea, comparisons between horses is basically impossible -- my experiences with charlie were so very very different from how things are going with doozy, and not just bc of the age difference, either... they're just such different personalities!

  3. I'm sure just having the time off and then getting back to work had her way too excited for trotting! Seems like she's coming back around though. Baby horses are tough! You're doing a great job with her. And I agree with you. I want my horses happy and comfortable first. We can work on all the details once those things are accomplished.

    1. ha thanks! and yea exactly --- she was like, i KNOW we're gonna canter and go jump things and stuff, why bother wasting time with boring trot???? lol... but yea. happy and comfortable, that's my big goal. like i do want to get better and learn more... but i also just want to have fun with horses, and have a horse that can cover for me every now and again!


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