One Step Forward Two Steps Back

img_4374.jpgComing off of Spring Bay it was clear that if we can’t get our dressage in line Annie and I will not be competitive at Novice. I decided that if Annie and I were going to go to any more recognized events I needed to tackle our dressage problem head on. I was feeling really frustrated. Knowing that if we could just get more consistent in the sandbox we would be placing consistently in the ribbons was hard to swallow.

I spent a lot of time beating myself up and comparing Houston and Annie on the flat. News flash – they are totally different horses… and also Houston was a tough cookie at Annie’s age as well. Frustration has no place in the saddle though so first I took a couple weeks of light riding and avoided the dressage saddle (read: bit) like the plague. Then came Rolex and all of the fun that goes along with it. I talked to my vet (her teeth are fine), I talked to my friends, and I talked to a couple of trainers. Short of xraying her head (which is not off the table) there is nothing easily seen wrong with Annie. She is fine on the ground. She is fine in a (sna)hackamore… And you know what… with an attitude and equipment change on my part she is getting more consistent in the bridle.

It is of course not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I regularly joke that it makes your eyes bleed. BUT there are moments of progress. Those moments are what makes the blood/sweat/tears worth it. I am happy to say that we seem to be back on track for more regular lessons and I hope that the consistent help will continue this trend of progress.

Riding green horses isn’t for the faint of heart but when it all comes together there isn’t much that is more rewarding. I don’t know what is up next for us but whatever it is I know we will have fun when we get there! Anyone else taking a break from the ring lately to do some more homework?

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  1. I always think of you when I talk to FBR about her spicy red former steeplechaser-former show jumper-now eventer. The dude has springs for legs but just doesn’t want to play in the sandbox and it frustrates FBR. She’s learning a ton though, and just like you is slowly and steadily making progress.

  2. i know this feel. with my last horse i could put in a mediocre test and be pretty consistently in the top of the pack. so then i go in and do what i think is a pretty darn good test on the new guy and…. haha. hahaha. no. it’s… ugh. a process. like you say tho, i’m just looking for those ‘moments.’ the moments aren’t enough to move the needle in a judged test yet, but it’s REALLY reassuring when the moments start happening more often and last longer. the scores will inevitably follow!

  3. Lol. Uh. See the entire month of May, where my horse has been on walk purgatory and my right arm is in bootcamp.

    It took me almost a solid month of nothing but the walk to teach Pig what contact was. It wasn’t a pleasant time, but it was necessary. Some of them need to learn about the bit and submission over a longer time frame. Honestly, I found George Morris the best guide for teaching thoroughbred types about the bit.

  4. Oh man green horses are NOT for the faint of heart. Especially not OTTB mares…
    While it would have been simpler to be able to point to something, like oh its THAT tooth that is bothering her and that’s why we are having difficulties in dressage, a time/training issue is also something you can work on. You have time, you have access to quality help and hey, better deal with this stuff now then years from now when instead of an issue it’s suddenly an ISSUE.

  5. I have the same issues with Nilla. She’s great for the jumping, terrible at dressage. I will say I honestly contemplated selling her if she couldn’t figure out how to keep her damned tongue in her mouth, and then I found a bit that works. It didn’t solve everything – we still suck at dressage – but it made it possible to carry on without getting dinged for every single movement. She looks good in that last screenshot.

  6. What did you try that ended up working? Or is she still in the hackamore?

    Also if you want lower budget, Champagne Run is doing a CT/MT/dressage schooling show June 11th.

  7. Grif had a bit hating phase for a good while, too. He would flail and threaten to fall over with me on him so I had to do homework from the ground for a time. Then when it came to get him to accept contact later on, we had to spend a solid month of schooling with the only goal of being forward and [slowly] accepting of the bit. Homework always pays off though! You two will be slaying in no time.

  8. Time, time, and more time. That is honestly what I have found works the best for young greenies and the off track horses I have brought along. Man, it stinks to not have a happy linear trajectory in training/competing, but sometimes you just have to take a huge step back and fill in the holes before you can move on. My current horse is stuck between levels right now; too good to stay at the same level but not quite ready to move up. It is a yucky feeling but I know if I just stop with my own mental timetable, it will work out! Hang in there!

  9. All courses and tests are just dozens of those great moments strung together! I think you’re doing all the things correctly, and I’m sure they will come together for you soon 🙂 You got this!

  10. Green horses can be so tricky! Like are they being weird because they are green or is something wrong… that is my revolving life conundrum. I did have really good success with Henry (not that he is on the bit or anything, but less of a giraffe) in rubber-type bits. Not sure if you had experimented with those are or not!