Monday, September 30, 2013


Uh oh. We have a minor problem on our hands. Next Sunday is our FIRST EVER EVENT! It's just a little tiny schooling show, but hey, we gotta start somewhere! She has already jumped around the entire little XC course that we'll be doing, although we will definitely school it again the day before, and she's also good and game over pretty much every stadium fence I've pointed her at (simple things, obviously... she might think differently when they get more complicated!). So what's the problem here?

We, um... can't canter.

Well, I guess that's not entirely true... we CAN canter, and gallop, and do both all the time... but to do it in a respectable dressage-y manner? Not so much. We've spent a LOT of time doing simple walk-trot stuff, but mostly I've just let her canter when it felt right or when we were jumping, as her balance permitted. She was such a runaway freight train that cantering up until now has just been TOTALLY out of the question - if you can't stop a horse when they're trotting, you sure aren't going to be able to stop them when they are cantering! Up until recently, she was still having moments where she would bolt off in the trot at high speed with no steering or brakes, so I felt that she just wasn't ready for canterwork. Now that her walk-trot work is really coming together and she has really become fairly quiet and relaxed, it is time to start adding canterwork. Unfortunately for us, our test this weekend has canterwork in it... and we're definitely not ready yet. She will be ready, it won't take *too* much time.... but she's not quite there yet. 

She's funny in that she doesn't really know the proper dressage-y cues for canter, as far as I can tell. If you lean at her over whichever particular shoulder you want your lead to be on and kiss at her, she'll usually pop up into the canter. If you half-halt, sit down, and cue her, she explodes forward with her head in your lap, and goes zooming off in every direction. Good luck with the lead, you have a 50% chance of getting the right one! I'll have to do some experimenting this week to see if I can sort of fake it for the test, but usually when she gets cantering, she gets that zooming, churning, grunty-snorting, dirtbiking thing going on that is definitely accentuated on a circle. This week I am jam-packed at work, and the sun is going down a LOT earlier than it used to, so we'll see how much *real* dressage time I get.... it should be, uh, interesting this weekend in the test!

I had a blast at the AECs this weekend, and had a ton of fun cheering on old and new friends, but it was back to the grind today! I was going to trailer up to WD to do some dressage work, but it was so gorgeous this morning that I was craving a trail ride... but I needed to do dressage..... but I wanted to trail ride.... oh what to do! 

I decided to compromise and do both at the same time. Hey, why not? Dressage is where you make it!

Those of you familiar with Fort Worth will recognize both the skyline and the Stockyards! O was a little bundle of jumpy nerves for most of the ride, although I can't blame her - it's a pretty scary set of trails. She didn't do anything wrong, but she was quick to start at everything that moved or didn't move (AHH a squirrel! AHH a bag! AHH a guy! AHH water! AHH a car! AHH a rock!). Once we set in to do our flatwork, she was pretty good in the walk and trot, but the canter was pretty messy, as expected. The more canterwork you do, the hotter she gets, so it's kind of a delicate process.... well, we'll get there!

I'm getting excited though... we're less than a week away from our first event!


  1. Oh boy, canter issues, something I know all too well. I have a zoomer, too. Unless we're jumping, then she's a hunter princess with a gorgeous canter. But dressage? Forget it.

    Good luck smoothing it out and in the show!

  2. OMG, those "looky loo" photos are perfect! You totally caught her mood there! I like the way her mane is looking too, I think it gives her attitude... :) Are you going to roach it off again or try to work with it. (I don't know what the rules are for that) I am very excited for you and her this week-end. I hope you will have some video of it.

  3. Weee I'm so excited for you! And good for you for practicing dressage on a trail ride! You never know when you'll be in a grass ring out in the middle of a XC course (like my first event -.-)! I bet you guys will do great :)

  4. I saw that skyline and the stockyards over Labor Day weekend - definitely a cool place! Good luck at the show!

  5. Something to ponder regarding "dressage-y" canter transitions:

    Dressage is my background, and I have a (former) curler/rusher/fore-hander too. I find that in dressage it's really a lot less about a specific method or cues (despite what some trainers say) and more about what works privately between you and the horse. Obviously clucking and leaning out of the saddle don't work for a *test* but avoiding the heavy seat and half halt part, you might find another method that would create a light & happy transition.
    For instance, when I learned about releasing pressure I started working with my gelding to canter by releasing my thighs off him (subtley) sitting up, and using a vocal cue (which can be left out later). He prefers this over any other method I've tried, but I can just hear my old trainer having a fit over the "method" aspect of it. ;p

    Anyways, I wish you guys luck this weekend.
    And your descriptions are hilarious... especially the dirtbiking/grunting. XD!

    1. I'm with TK... With the exception of talking, there is no reason you can't cue her in a SCHOOLING show this weekend her preferred way.

      It sounds like she'll have fun this weekend. Hopefully you will, too!

  6. Can you just not canter? I've done it several times, just told the judge before I started the test and trotted through the canter sections. Sure, you'll get a 0 for that movement but its better than ruining the whole test. You're not out to win, so why worry?

  7. It's a shame you can't just pull the hose off her turbo for the show! The canter issue sounds difficult to address.

    Anyway, Andrea, ya gotta put me out of my misery and announce this new project before I pop. Even another upcoming show pales next to a potential new horsey joining the blog (as is my interpretation)!!!