Thursday, April 18, 2024

squircles in new + exciting places

At long last, Doozy met long time dressage trainer C!!!! Longtime readers will remember :D

virtual cookies to folks who immediately know where we are!
One of the hardest things about being basically a "privateer" (ie, a rider independent from any established program) is building up the team, developing the tribe necessary to be successful in any meaningful way. 

And not just because it's hard to find coaching that "meshes," but bc of all the other details... The scheduling, the logistics, the reality that right now my horse is a two-person load job so I can only really ship out to lessons when ideally there are two of us going. Which obvi doubles the logistical challenges!

passive familiarization during punky's lesson was a 100% win
I dunno tho, maybe I also thought we should be 'farther along' before we were 'ready' for fancy pants dressage lessons. But eh, the months have continued ticking on, and we still can't really consistently trot circles.... so, eh, maybe actually this is exactly what we need!

another day, another new ring!
Tho, let's be real. Doozy from two or three months ago might not have been able to do this lesson. We ended up in the outdoor ring (no walls) bc the indoor was occupied already. And it was a non-issue!! Even tho they were bringing in horses from the paddocks during our ride! Good girl, Dooz!

doozy's hind legs are constantly considering their options lol
Trainer C is honestly such a favorite. There are so many ways to ride a horse, so many styles of teaching. But she is just so pragmatic. She just wants to see the horse move in the direction toward better. And wants the rider to be tactical and realistic. 

every now and again, tho, we can just... trot
She has a very stream-of-consciousness style of teaching that honestly feels a bit like 'puppet mastery' when you're in the moment (or at least, in deeper moments of more exciting proper dressage stuff like both Charlie and Isabel did in their time with C...). But she also has a super plain spoken and accessible way of describing things that it's easy to keep her words in mind even long after a lesson. 

"my people, they call to me!" --- doozy, 1,000%
This was honestly a very simple lesson. But it was wonderful. We are undoubtedly well into the 'plateau phase' of kinda sucking while reliably walk-trot-canter-jumping little things. Like, it might be like this for a long time. We might suck at trotting circles for a long time

Except actually, there's pretty distinct, tangible improvements happening. Like, obvi not in the trotting circles. Except YES in the trotting circles --- we only accidentally broke to canter like 2 or 3 times in the entire lesson! And ya know. We didn't bolt or attempt to exit the ring despite there being no real actual proper 'boundaries.'

can walk past a gazebo, check!
Trainer C directed us in a fashion very similar in some ways to the Sprieser clinic we went to a few months ago, but perhaps in a bit more of a nuanced sort of way. 

The gist was, as soon as you feel the tempo/pace getting away from you, down shift, Nbd, just bring it back. Don't let the horse get ahead of herself, too big for her britches. Just bring it back right away. Keep it so that the horse doesn't even have the chance to escalate and continue on in the 'wrong' way of going.

honestly walking is a win anyway! i swear we cantered too, but you'll have to watch the video
She quickly put us on a figure 8 of two 20m circles, with a pattern of walking portions of the figure, trotting portions of the figure, but focusing on softness and success. 

And as we progressed, instead of walking every time the horse got over tempo, we worked on the same sort of approach I wrote about last week --- bringing the horse back to almost walk, relaxing into it, then carrying on. Rinse, repeat.

more civilized trotting, just to prove we can
Last part of the lesson was showing C our canter. Which went well enough. I got to sheepishly explain to her how... when Doozy breaks into canter on her own, she never misses a lead. But when I *ask* for canter, we misfire most of the time LOL. Horses will be humbling, amirite?

Overall, tho, honestly, it was a super refreshing ride. So much of it felt familiar with what I've already been doing... Which like, duh, C has been one of my most constant coaches over the last few years, hopefully I've absorbed at least some of it, right?

It was also useful, tho, in settling on specific exercises -- like that figure 8 with many many low-key transitions along the way. And getting the reminder to be more intentional about the squareness of Doozy's shoulders as we go. 

atta girl, dooz!
Essentially, C's instruction was to "never give her the chance to not be good." Make it easy, ride her straight and square, transition as needed strategically. Rinse, repeat forever

Except that C doesn't think it'll take that long, she was impressed with Doozy's general choices in life throughout this ride, and agreed that she's generally a well-to-do lady who 'colors inside the lines.' 

It still feels like Doozy is sometimes waiting for.... something, for the other shoe to drop, or whatever. But she'll learn, right? And in the meantime, we'll give her every opportunity to realize, 'it really can be easy, hon!'


  1. Instructor "C" certainly sounds like she gives a nice balance between positive feedback and instructions on room for improvement. I can see why you like her. And it always helps when the instructor seems to like the horse you are riding too.

    1. ha that definitely helps when the instructor likes the horse!! it's so nice to get back to these lessons i only hope i can make it a consistent thing!

  2. What a gorgeous setting, OMG. I watched part of the video just staring at the beautiful arena and surroundings. I love the term privateer and can so definitely sympathize with the logistics of getting to these essential lessons. I'm glad it was productive for you both!!

    1. this farm is SOOOO gorgeous! i've actually never taken a lesson in the outdoor dressage ring before, but that's where we do the tests for their CT series that hopefully Doozy will get to do this year too. it's like a jungle out there!

  3. Dude she's filled out soo much 🤩

    1. right??? C was kinda shocked when i showed her Doozy's original sales photo LOL

  4. That ring is stunning. It has the perfect backdrop for photos. You guys look good too. 😁

    1. thanks haha -- gotta love the wild luscious jungles of maryland!!

  5. What I love most about this post is how it's clear that you really love working with this trainer. I feel the same way about my summer trainer. When you find the right person to help you, it just all comes together so much more quickly than when you're working with the wrong person. Or none at all... Haha... Not that I'd know from experience... Cough, cough...
    I agree with trainer C. I think you and Doozy are going to come a lot further together this summer than you're expecting. She's a smart mare who wants to give the right answers. She just has to learn to slow everything down. Which makes sense since her last job was to go as fast as she could. Even when she's rushing, her intentions are good and genuine.


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