P’s Worst Nightmare- Trainer B Two Days in a Row

Friday we headed to Trainer B’s for a lesson, where he wanted to get into some of the more technical aspects of SJ, particularly roll backs. Now P and I can do roll backs, but with our newly acquired adjustable canter, specifically being able to not just wing it, but really control pace around the turns and to the jumps. I’m actually incredibly proud of the work I put into the canter in the last few weeks. P is now CRAZY adjustable on a consistent basis. Like I have 6 different canters. Trainer B says I need 8, but nothing is ever good enough for Trainer B. And that’s ok with me. In the meantime, #winning.



Wrong, Donny T, I’ll never get tired of winning


P was in kind of a mood when I was warming up, so we started by warming up over a gate that P has jumped only 6 dozen times or so. And on attempt 3, slammed to a stop.

We just went back and forth until that mess was out of his system, then added in a turn to an oxer-ish thing. And P wanted nothing to do with that.

Now, one thing that I can see from the video is Trainer B is telling me to tap P, and my legs are just clamped. I never noticed that before, but I’d bet anything that I do that all the time. So something to think about.

Once we did that a few times, we added in a vertical after the oxer, then back to the oxer the other way. It was a crazy sharp turn and I failed more times than I can count. But thanks to husband videoing, it looks like I actually only failed 3x.

This first one I took a slightly too long spot to the vertical, so by the time he landed and I could get him back, it was too late.

So Trainer B’s words of wisdom were to stay patient and wait for the fence.


Maybe Trainer B is actually underpaid.

Then the 3rd attempt, I got in perfectly, but waited too long after landing to actually make a move. Maybe I was just so surprised that I got a good distance to the vertical. Who knows.

Yes, Trainer B. So close, but yet still so far away.

So the next go-round I was determined to do it, even if I jumped off P and did it myself. Luckily my horse cooperated and we did it together, but then I botched the final oxer. Can’t do anything perfectly the first time. It’d take the fun out of things.

So Trainer B asked if I wanted another go-round, which I did, so off we went. And this was jump 1…


I knew it was ugly, but when I saw this it just made me laugh. Because it immediately reminded me of this clip from the Stephen Colbert show.


Needless to say, though, we started over.

And nailed it!

The next day, Saturday, was going to be a milestone because, drumroll, please, Trainer B and I were going to the same show!

I’m adding this in to this post because there’s zero media so it doesn’t deserve its own post. Husband had the kids at a pool party and I totally forgot my Cambox. So…words will have to suffice. Or skip this part because ugh, so much reading.

If you recall, I’ve never been to a show with a trainer as an adult. So this was incredibly exciting for me. He was taking another client as well, and wanted her to start at 2′. I wanted to start at 2’3″ so we decided to meet at the showgrounds at 2 PM.

I ended up getting there shortly after 1 because I’m Type A like that. The other client was going to ride in classes 3-5 and I was going to ride in class 8-11. Well, it was a good thing I got there early because practically NO ONE was there and they were already on class 3. So I texted Trainer B to get over there stat and hopped on my pony.

I did some w/t to loosen him up, then we stopped by the arena so I could watch the rounds and learn the course. All of a sudden, P’s head whips to the left, but I ignored him because I don’t give in to spooks like that, yo. Turns out it was Trainer B walking towards us, which blew P’s mind. For as much as he loves Trainer J, Trainer B makes him work super hard (though so does Trainer J so maybe P is just sexist), and it was like he couldn’t understand what Trainer B was doing here of all things.



If P could talk to Trainer B


So we got all warmed up, doing our crazy adjustable canter (still can’t believe all that work paid off so quickly) and jumping the itsy bitsy warmup jumps. I had missed the 2’3″ classes because there was ONE person in one of the 2’3″ classes so it ended even before I had P bridled. So it was 2’6″ or bust.

Now, I know 2’6″ is small. I look at it at home and at Trainer B’s and think, “meh, tiny.” But seeing all those crazy colored poles, fillers, oxers, combinations and weird distances just made it look kind of intimidating. Especially on a horse that, you know, stops.


So Trainer B said to get in the arena and gallop. Gallop, then forward canter, then collect, then go forward, etc, and come aggressively to the first jump. And P felt awwwwesome.

Jumps 1 and 2 went fine, but I let him drift right upon landing from jump 2, and we cut the turn to 3 a bit too tight, so he stopped at it, a very bright pink and orange oxer. We reined back, he hopped over it, 4 was fine, then a tiiiight rollback to 5, but since we practiced that the day before it was all good. 6 was an American flag verticle with the weirdest distance to 7 (an oxer) I’d ever seen. Like, you needed to land off 6 and immediately go left, then go right, then somehow try to go straight. Anyway, we stopped again, reined back, and popped over. 8 was fine, then 9AB was a one stride, with an oxer to a verticle. Another stop at 9A, the oxer (see a theme?), and reining back didn’t work. I actually almost just quit there, but then it occurred to me that P may not have enough momentum from just reining back, so I circled and picked up a forward trot, and he went just fine over both A and B. 10 was good and we were finally done.

Now, the only consolation I had, and it’s terrible, is that Trainer B’s other client went right before me and her horse- an experienced show horse- stopped at 9 out of the 10 jumps. Most of the horses that I watched had multiple stops. Maybe that had something to do with our round- maybe mentally I told myself that if other horses are stopping, then of course mine is going to. I don’t know. But I do know we haven’t schooled oxers in awhile and that’s obviously overdue for one or both of us.

We talked about the round, what went well, obviously what went wrong, and headed back in. This time, the only stop we had was at 7 and it was totally my fault. I felt us losing some power coming off of 5 to 6, and turned to get the line to 7 waaaay too late. If I’d ridden correctly, I’d bet anything he would’ve jumped it.

So, again, glad that the second time was better than the first, but  also still frustrated because at a HT, you get one shot. And honestly at this point, I’m not sure what the problem is. He’s ulcer free, his saddle fits, he’s not lame, he gets chiro’d and magnawaved. So pain? Unlikely. Habit? Maybe. I know I was wrong in how long I waited to find the ulcers, so maybe he’s still expecting jumping to hurt? Confidence? Again, maybe. Confidence on my part? Also maybe. I’m a believer in mental toughness and that visualization is a powerful tool. But as much as I tell myself to ride him like he’s not going to stop, it’s always in the back of my mind. Because what other experience do I have to go on? Does he not want to jump? Anything is possible, but I don’t think that’s it. I suppose all this is a post for another day when I’m a bit more clear-headed about it, so let’s pause there.

Sunday, P got back on the trailer (which honestly surprised me) so we could trail ride with friends. I’m sure P was relieved to unload and not see an arena or jump course in sight.


Today I went out to the barn before the whole eclipse thing happened and we popped over a few fences. It’s so nice to not be run off with after jumps now!

Home Jump.png

P will get tomorrow off because I have to take Husband to the airport after work 😦 then we’ll get ready for ANOTHER jumper show on Saturday. Trainer B is out of town at his own show (he should stop the whole “professional rider” thing and just be my FT trainer) so we won’t see him until next Tuesday. I’m hoping to squeak in a lesson with Trainer J this week, but again, “professional rider” and all. Bah humbug.

Happy Monday! Not.


Dying Your Gray Horse’s Tail…A Cautionary Tale

This is a tale about dying your horse’s tail.  And it’s not pretty.

L from Gray Horse Problems posted a tutorial for dying your gray horse’s tail, and I immediately ordered all the supplies, because hello, Gus’ tail is magnificent.

Since Pilgrim is a disgusting creature, I try to purple shampoo his tail at least 2-3x/week. But I never feel like it actually looks clean. More than once I’ve threatened to just dye his tail all black. So when I saw the tutorial, I was super excited to try it.





First, I gathered up all the supplies:

CaptureCapture1Plus Latex gloves, plastic bags, and vet wrap. Turquoise vet wrap, naturally.



P knows I have no business near hair dye


Then I tied up the black part of his tail to keep it out of the way.


Then I mixed up the stuff (probably wrong), and slathered it in- again, probably wrong.


Then wrapped the plastic bag over it and put him in his stall so his tail could cook.


After 30 minutes, I unwrapped to wash the bleach out. It was a little shocking to see how yellow it was, but I didn’t panic (yet) because now it was time for the purple shampoo to get that gleaming white!



Now, I’m well-versed in the world of purple shampoo. I should probably own stock in Vetrolin White ‘N Brite. But I’ve never left purple shampoo in for longer than 5 or so minutes, and this called for leaving it in for 30 minutes.


Then I rinsed out with hot water and….behold:


Now I felt slightly panicked, but surely it won’t DRY this way. I’m sure it’s fine.


Nope, not fine.

Here are some more angles just to let this sink in:


Yep, that’s purple.

With nothing more I could do that night, I turned him out. Choking back some sobs as I watched him walk away.


And for the first time EVER, willed him to roll harder to maybe disguise it a bit until I could find a solution.



Grind it in, buddy


The next day I texted my salon-owning friend who does my hair.


Then she called me right away because I had forgotten to add that I had used the above process on my horse and not my own hair, and she was freaking out that I had burned off all my hair.


She recommended clarifying shampoo or, since it was horse hair, mixing baking soda and Dawn dish soap.



So I ran to the store and then to the barn, just hoping that maybe I had temporarily gone color-blind the night before and it really wouldn’t be purple when I pulled in.


No such luck, so I got to scrubbing.


And it worked! You can still see that the color has obviously been tampered with, and every once in awhile there’s a subtle hint of purple here and there, but it’s not OBVIOUSLY purple anymore.

So, what was the purpose of posting this? Well, just a warning to not be like me. I’ve never been a “test for color fastness” person. I mean, who has the time for that? And it’s always worked out for me. Until this. So if you ever get the urge to alter your horse’s hair color, maybe just take 90 minutes (or less) and test to make sure you don’t turn your horse into Barney the Dinosaur.





Back to the Vet

We have a lesson with Trainer B on Friday and another jumper show on Saturday, so with the vet scope being on Wednesday (today), I couldn’t give P the day off yesterday.


Until I showed up and was pulled this creature out:


I mean, gross. Come on. And it was wet mud, no chance of brushing it off. Not that P would tolerate the brushing it would require even if it were dry.

But I still wanted to get on. So:


There was a 95% chance it would’ve been the stupidest thing I’d ever done. I’ve ridden P bareback exactly 1 time in the 3 years I’ve owned him and it was….3 years ago. But I took him out to the mounting block and tested my weight across his back before hopping on. He didn’t even move a muscle.


Since the big arena was underwater and the pastures were all full of ponies, we headed down to the schooling arena and wandered around while a pony kid was taking a lesson. And played in the huge puddle/water complex that forms on one end whenever it rains as hard as it has been.

I had put a lead rope around his neck because eventually I’d like to ride him bridleless (which will 100% be the stupidest thing I’ll ever do) just for fun, and while he was great stopping and turning right with it, he couldn’t figure out left to save his life.

So then I had the great idea to trot. Holy withers, horse, I’m NEVER doing that again. Not unless I strap a memory foam mattress to his back. So we stuck to walking and steering, and called it a day.

This AM he had his vet appointment to rescope. The vet was running half an hour behind, so we had to find a way to amuse ourselves. I practiced our jog up for Rolex (P didn’t put in much effort because he knows it’ll never actually happen), then we watched my husband put the divider back in my trailer:



Whats the crazy man doing to my bus?


And then my husband started with the contact sports:

I know. Saint Pilgrim should actually be his name.

Then finally the vet tech took mercy on us, because at this point P was trying to munch on sticks, he was so hungry, and let us in the barn.



Did my stick cuz you no feed me


They sedated him, got the tube and the camera in and it was the moment of truth.


No more ulcers!

Like, they’re ALL gone. Even the glandular ones. Even the bleeders. Just all gone. Finito. He’s officially ulcer-free.

He still has 26 more days of 1/2 tube of GG/day, then the vet wants us to use UG or GG around travel times, but for now, he’s good. It’s been a long 4 weeks of LOTS of medications, and I’m sure the only people that are more relieved than I am are the barn staff.

Then I had the vets look at the bump that popped up on his back, and they weren’t too concerned. They did a lameness exam, but nothing was out of the ordinary and one of the vets said the bump looks like it’s more part of his conformation and once he regains his weight and puts on more muscle, it should be hidden again. Since changing from Nutrena to TS Senior, he’s lost a bit of weight, but BO bumped up his amount and added in Fat Cat supplement, which I’ve had success with before.

Then I had them x-ray his knee. He’s had a fluid filled left knee since he was a baby- he raced on it, the OTTB reseller bought him knowing about it, and I had the Ocala vet who did his pre-purchase x-ray it, and she said it was NBD, just fluid but he was sound on it. He’s never been lame on it before, but this year it’s seems to have gained in size and is more noticeable. 4 people have asked me about it this summer: Trainer J, Trainer B, BO, and Working Student. With the exception of Trainer B, all have known P for multiple years, so I figured I should get it checked just in case.



Just ugly, but no restrictions


And that’s in the clear, too. Some small changes that come along with the territory of being an OTTB that now collects in dressage, then runs and jumps, but nothing worth doing anything over since he’s fine on it. They want to re-x-ray in a year to compare, but it looks basically the same as the x-rays from when I first got him, when they put both up side by side.

So all good news on this front. P was incredibly relieved to be back in his stall with water, hay and feed.

Tomorrow we ride!


Running Wind Jumper Show

I passed on going to the Windridge HT this past weekend (reluctantly) in favor of going to a local jumper show so I could get around some courses. Because SJ is the worst phase for me and if I fell off, well, at least I didn’t blow an entire competition…again.



Bye entry + stall + fuel + hookup fee + dog boarding fees


I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was half looking at FB leading up to the weekend to see if anyone was selling an entry, though.


But it was for the best.


The jumper show started at 9 and was half an hour away, so I  planned to head out at 8. Luckily I got to the barn ahead of schedule because this is what I found:

After a quick bath and a few minutes of standing him in front of the 2 industrial fans in the barn, we headed out only a few minutes late. P was obviously distraught when we arrived at the show grounds.


If there’s one thing I can (usually) count on, it’s that when we get somewhere new, P will be a rockstar. He’s the type you can tie to the trailer and leave alone, as long as he has hay. He’s also the type that will stand under the registration tent and nuzzle you while you fill out your entry form. Ask me how I know. Ah, the joys of showing alone. But really, for all his under-saddle spookiness, he’s got some great ground manners.

Anyway, I got on just as they were ending schooling, so we didn’t get to do much. I watched the 2′ classes go so I could learn the course and it was fairly straightforward. The only jump I was little unsure about was the skinny at 5. It was really narrow and P has never jumped a skinny, so uhhhh, ok. Then 6 was a forward 4 or collected 5 to a 1 stride, which I was actually looking forward to since we just schooled that at Trainer B’s. That would be my undoing.


We went in the 2’3″ to use as a warmup, and everything was going fine until the one stride. I got in a little weird to 6 because I’m me, but then P slammed on the brakes at the fence going into the combination. I’ll get more into that below. I kicked him, backed him up and he went right over, then continued like nothing had happened. Only watch if you don’t mind the F bomb going down when P stops- sometimes I wonder who gets more irritated when he stops, me or him.

My original plan had been to use 2’3″ as a warmup, then go to 2’6″, but I decided to go into the other 2’3″ class for another go-round. When in Jumper Land, jump all the rounds you can, right? If I’d gotten there earlier, I would’ve gone in all the 2′ classes also. This time there were no stops and even coming into the combination, P felt locked and loaded. Again, weird distances were to be had by his incompetent rider, but he didn’t hold a thing against me.

Then we went to 2’6″ and unfortunately Husband didn’t hear my name being called, so he missed the first 2 jumps, which were fantastic. We smoothed out the line from 8 to 9 and while it still wasn’t perfect, P felt great. Confidence boosting all around.

I was pleasantly surprised when we got 5th place both Power & Speed classes (out of 15 and 12, respectively) because speed was not on the agenda for the day. I honestly can’t even tell you where power ended and speed began, but I’m always happy to take a ribbon or 2 or 3 or 4….just give me all the ribbons.


So here are the takeaways:

  • I do wish I had watched the videos between rounds because immediately my first thought when watching any of them was, “That is NOT enough canter.” Trainer B always tells me to have more canter than I think I need, and apparently I didn’t heed that during my rounds. We got in to some weird spots, courtesy of yours truly, that I think would’ve been fixed if I’d asked him to go more forward. But I suppose that was the point of going to this and doing multiple rounds.


  • Jumper shows can be quite scary. I mean, I didn’t have the guts to watch some of these riders go around. Some just looked positively unsafe. There was one little girl who rode in the 2′ classes who, no doubt, is a very gutsy rider. But there’s no need to go flying around a 2′ course leaning off your horse like he’s a motorcycle. If that saint of a horse had put one foot out of line she would’ve gone flying. And everyone was clapping for her. No. Just stop. That’s dangerous. I get that jumpers is about speed, but let’s keep it safe, shall we?


  • P is getting his hind end checked tomorrow when we go to the vet to rescope. In the first video, coming off of jump 2, he looks stuck behind. It could’ve been the footing since it had rained and then the arena had been trampled on all day the previous day when they hosted a hunter show, but I’ve also felt this stickiness a few times at home.


  • I’m baffled as to why P is stopping now. His MO used to be to stop at the first fence he was asked to jump (at a show, schooling, or in a lesson…always the first jump), or if one was particularly spooky looking. Neither was the case on Sunday. This was jump 6 so it’s obvious by now what we’re doing here, and the fence itself was a simple gate with a pole on top. Maybe there were flowers, but P has never cared about that before. It’s frustrating because there’s no rhyme or reason for it, at least to me.


  • It seems I’m over my fear of heights (fence heights that is. Don’t invite me on a Ferris wheel). I chose to do the little classes for a few reasons:
  1. They were earlier in the day, before it was supposed to get stupid hot and/or storm.
  2. This wasn’t about height, it was about me getting more comfortable jumping around a course and making fast decisions. Everything just happens so quickly in stadium. In XC, if you screw something up, you typically have a stretch to fix things. In SJ, you have to be really good about not dwelling on mistakes, which is something I need practice at.
  3. P’s intermittent soreness and hind-end stickiness in the canter is something I want checked out before making him use himself more to get over a bigger fence. While he looks and feels sound, every once in awhile there’s just this “thing” that happens so better safe than sorry.

While I was closing my check out, they were setting up 2’9″ and I was almost tempted to go grab P and head back in there, but it was important to end on a good note, which we did. If all is well when we go to the vet, then we’ll be heading to Trainer B’s for a lesson on Friday, then to another jumper show (at another location) on Saturday!

All the Jumping

So Husband is finally home! So of course I dragged him to the barn right away. Of course.

After our dressage lesson last Tuesday, Trainer J noticed a bump on P’s back…like a hunters bump. She didn’t seem too concerned- just asked if the chiro had said anything about it, which she hadn’t because, well, it’s brand new. I run my hands over each of his legs every day, and do a visual inventory over his body to check for new cuts and stuff,  but I honestly hadn’t seen that bump before.


The next day after our lesson, last Wednesday, I put on dressage tack (gasp!) to show off to my husband our gorgeous canter. Well, P was a complete ass and was racing around braced against my hand and “bucking.” I put bucking in quotes because that’s what it felt like, until I saw the video.

The whole time I rode, he was just braced, chomping at the bit, super antsy, and generally not happy. There could’ve been a few other reasons: BO was doing a pre-purchase at the time, and they were jogging the new pony back and forth in front of the arena, there were 2 new horses that were out in P’s regular pasture to get acquainted, etc. And while he was ok-ish in the w/t, the canter just was awful. He kept picking up incorrect leads, and swapping. SI? Hocks? General asshole-ish behavior? Lord only knows. But it didn’t get better so I got off. Then I took off his saddle and palpated around the bump, and he seemed uncomfortable. He’s uuuber sensitive (like, even just glimpsing a curry comb sends him into despair), but still, it seemed as if that spot was extra tender.


The next day we had a lesson with Trainer B and I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to go. I decided to give him some bute and take him, but if he showed any signs of discomfort, I’d stop. He got a gram of bute (I think, he’s a paste spitter) and we hauled on up there. He was fine warming up, so we got to jumping.

And husband got videos! He taped more than usual so there are more Trainer B words of wisdom (WOW) in there.

Warm up fence. Gone are the days of warming up over a cross-rail.

Trainer B had set up a grid for us and had me take P over each fence individually so as not to blow his wittle mind. And mine, let’s just be honest here. And P was just fine over the regular verticals, but then we came to the lattice fence (now we’ve jumped random fences over a dozen times) which he’s jumped plenty in the past and that got me a slam on the brakes. I don’t get it by now. He looks like he’s taken aback by it, but come on dude, you’ve seen this before.

Then we moved on to jumping 2 at a time. I think my favorite part is around the :45 second mark where I correct him- he started pulling and that’s a no-no, so I halted and reined back, just like Trainer J told me to. But then I drop my left rein (accidentally) so that now goes against everything Trainer J told me to. Oops. No one show this video to her.

Then we trotted in for the whole shebang. Well, first Trainer B blew Husband’s mind and I had to correct P again, but this time without dropping my reins. Small victories, I suppose.

I couldn’t get good spots at all. And I was getting kind of frustrated until Trainer B told me that it was spaced for a forward canter, but he wanted P to start off by trotting in so it wouldn’t overwhelm him (special snowflake that he is). Well, now that makes sense.

Then we cantered in and took fliers, then came back around and only took one flier. Again, winning?

Then we came in from the other direction and completely failed at life. I mean, completely. I had a great canter until we turned, then I just let him stutter and fade out.

Then we came in and got perfectly to the first fence, where you can hear Trainer B go “Yes” in the most relieved voice ever. Because OMG, so much adult amaturing happening right now. So naturally we had to botch the last 2 fences. Naturally.

By now the score was more like KC: 0.5 Grid: 12+ so Trainer B goes, “Come in with more canter than you think you need. Jump, then press 2 things- press your hands forward and your body backwards. You don’t want to be close to him, you want your body to separate yourself from him, while your hands send him forward.”

And that was all it took!

Sometimes I feel bad for Trainer B, but then I remember that he’s compensated quite heavily for having to deal with me for an hour a week. And I ain’t quitting that because in the few months that I’ve worked with him, my leg has gone from this:


To this:

Jump1 (2)

Not every time, and it’s not always perfect, but it’s getting there the more I practice. Not to mention I feel 1000% more secure in the saddle, even when he has his stopping moments. So sorry Trainer B.


For Sale…

Well, I’ve cleaned out the closet and the trailer. It was a sucky job, but some stuff has to go. Especially with the addition of all the camping stuff in the trailer. I can’t just hoard anymore. And I had to do it before husband came home.


So here it is, for your browsing pleasure. If anyone is interested in anything, email me at kcscott85@yahoo.com since I don’t always get notifications that there’s a comment. I can get additional pictures, etc. Shipping is from 28027.

Apparel (keep in mind I’m 5’10” and 155-160#. All this stuff fits me):

Ariat long sleeve sweater, size L: $5


On Course riding tights, size L: $5


Kerrits Sit Tight Supreme Full Seat Breeches (seriously sticky, saved my ass a few times): $10


Riding Warehouse Polo, size L: $5


Ariat White Polo, Size L: $5


SmartPak Piper Polo, Size L: $5


Kerrits Short Sleeve shirt, Size M: $5


On Course button down show shirt, size L: $5


Kerrits Ice Fil Tank, Size L: $5


SmartPak Piper Sleeveless Tank, Size L: $5


Devon Air knee patch breeches (a couple water spots, schooling condition), size 32R: $5


Devon Air Full Seat breeches, size 34R: $10


Kerrits Riding Tights, Size L: $5


Dublin Brown River Boots, Size 9 (Brand new, never worn): $125

I had bought these in sizes 9 and 10, and the 9 didn’t fit me in the slightest, but I missed the return window so selling these at a veeeery reduced price.



Horse Tack/Gear:

Harwich Eventer Bridle (schooling condition): $30

In decent condition except the leather is coming off of one side of the noseband’s buckle. I’m sure it can be repaired, but I haven’t taken it anywhere to check the cost.


Thinline reins in brown: $50


4.75″ Fillis Stirrup Irons with Super Comfort Stirrup Pads: $10



Majyk Equpe Boyd Martin XC Boots, Medium: $150 for all 4.

P is 16.1 TB and these fit him great. Love me some ME boots. Only selling because I got the colored ones and these aren’t getting used anymore. Great condition, only used maybe 6 times.



CWD, 18″ seat, M gullet, SE02: $800

2006 model, 4C flap (long, forward). Leather is worn off on the pommel, but it doesn’t affect riding and you can’t see it unless you’re riding. Also has some wear on the left side of the seat (see pictures). Quote from Aiken Saddlery in 2016 to replace seat was $600.


Stubben Pre-Stretched Stirrup Leathers: $25

Will sell these separately, or throw in with the saddle if that’s purchased first.


Thanks for checking this out!

When Your Horse Has a Crush on Your Trainer…

You get NOTHING accomplished.

It’s no secret that P has had a monster crush on Trainer J (dressage) forever. He literally does no wrong when we’re with her. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her how spooky he is or how difficult he can be. I told Trainer B that, who has known us for like 3 months vs Trainer J’s 2 years and he busted out laughing and said, “Well, I can verify that he is.”



Thanks, Trainer B


Now maybe it’s because Trainer J has always loved P. I got started with her after she judged us at a few local shows and the last time she judged us, she called me over and said, “First off, I love your husband and he cracked me up the entire time you were riding (he was making death threats against the kids while trying to video my test), and second, your horse is an incredibly nice mover and I can’t believe he’s an off the track TB.”


One of my friends rode with her, and had her start one of her young horses, so I headed up to Trainer J’s with her for a semi-private lesson, and we just clicked right away. When I officially started riding with her, she was pregnant, and the first time I saw her after Baby B was born, her first words were, “Can I ride him for a few minutes?” Why, yes you can, Trainer J. So she hops on him, makes him look gorgeous in about 90 seconds or less, and then stops and throws her arms around him and said, “I’ve been dying to ride him since I laid eyes on him!”


But she’s for real. It’s been 2 years and we’ve seen our scores go from 38 to 30. She helped me get him back on track when I got him back from the worse selling experience ever, and she’s one of my favorite people.

So, yesterday.

I got to the barn earlier than usual so I could get up to Trainer J’s early to either lunge him or have a long warmup, because homeboy hadn’t been ridden in 3 days. I didn’t ride over the weekend because of the kids, and then Monday when I went out, there were contractors fixing the lights around the arena so I couldn’t ride in it. So I was a bit apprehensive because a fresh P isn’t a productive P.



This isn’t even an exaggeration


But then I found a mud soaked pony who required an actual bath, so that took up any extra time I had. So I figured I’d have to wing it.

When we got to the indoor, Trainer J asked if there was something specific I wanted to work on. Yes, ma’am.

I’m sure I sounded super whiny: “I can’t win in the canter, he leaps into it and runs off, and I have zero adjustability and he blows right through half-halts.”

So she goes, “Ok, show me.”

So I walk P on, put my right leg back and lighten my outside seatbone and…

P goes gently into a relaxed canter.

And Trainer J goes, “That looked just fine!”

Of course it did.

So then she goes, “Let’s go walk, canter, halt, walk, canter.”

K. Watch this- he won’t stop.

So we go into a nice gentle canter again, and I give the halting aids…weight in the stirrups, lift my chest and lighten my seat.

Not only does P halt, he halts perfect square and still in the bridle.


And Trainer J goes, “What was wrong with that?”


So then she says, “Canter, half-halt by using the same aids as you do for halting, but before he breaks, soften and go forward.”

Yeah, I know, Trainer J. I’ve been TRYING that. Get ready for fireworks.

So P goes off into his super dressage-y canter, and I apply the halting aids and then send him forward and…P rocked his lil’ ol’ self back and goes into the most beautiful, round and connected canter EVER. Even I couldn’t stop staring in the mirrors.

But then we halted and Trainer J goes, “What was wr…”


By this time, she had called over one of her working students and her assistant trainer (who’s like 10 years younger than me and riding at 4th level….sucks that she’s super nice) to show them the “Thoroughbred she had told them about…one of the nicest movers” blah blah blah.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting on my horse like, “What is this voodoo, show her your true self, Pilgrim!”


Now, the lesson wasn’t totally a bust, despite P’s perfection. She totally got after me for my ever lengthening reins. She’s all, “I can see half your fingers, I only want to see knuckles!” And the reason for that is very valid. When I feel P soften or stretch down, I just let my reins lengthen when really I need to maintain the connection. Otherwise, all that happens is he starts powering on his forehand and while it makes for a nice picture to my non-dressage-judge eyes, it’s not actually correct. There’s got to be an end to the leash. My reins have to start short and stay short, otherwise I’m not making him use himself correctly.

And when they do get long…don’t do the “creepy crawly” up the reins to shorten them. That makes the connection unsteady and that’s the opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m going to try riding with coins (shamelessly stolen from this article here) in my hands to try to keep them closed because it’s something that I don’t even notice is happening. Or maybe I should just get a pair of rainbow reins. BO will just love that.



The other thing she got after me about was not insisting on straightness. Before asking for anything else, I have to get control over his outside shoulder. If he feels counterbent, congrats! He’s straight. It’s a principle I know well, but as we’ve progressed, lost sight of a bit. I need to get all of these things tattooed on my arms or something.

So all in all, great lesson. And great first day back after 3 days off for P. I told Trainer J that I just needed her to come sit in on every ride I have. I can’t believe I didn’t end up in the dirt, honestly. 3 days off plus a 20 degree temp drop is usually a recipe for a disastrous first ride back.

My videographer husband just landed so here’s hoping I can replicate yesterday’s canter this afternoon!