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The Ugly: Lesson Recap 4/24

Today was one of those lessons that felt ugly but accomplished a lot. Katai had been in all day and with our sort of weird week she wasn't feeling dressage time in the sandbox today. Also, after the Janet Foy clinic and a couple of clinic videos I watched I was doing more to correct her when she was misbehaving.

Pretending to be eventers with an awesome duct tape patch job
I had learned to do no, to almost no correction, when she was having meltdowns because once she started melting down she wouldn't stop for the rest of the ride. The problem is that now she's not doing that any more and when I'm not correcting her when she's doing something wrong, like bulging her ribs into my leg and not listening at all to my leg cues, I'm just allowing her to get away with something and not really teaching her anything. Today I started correcting her and then going back to how I was riding before and guess what, no meltdown!

Katai got rinsed off since she actually got a little sweaty. It was cold so she got to wear her baker while she was cooling off

She would react of course but that's what she's supposed to do. Then she would go back to her normal self except she would be listening better! Woohoo!!! I have a horse that is rideable. There was still a lot of ugly because then she would be a bit more spicy and I certainly got more head tossing than normal but we also had some amazing moments with a pony that was in front of my leg but listening to me. The fact that I started off with a very resistant and sassy pony who only wanted to canter and ended up with a compliant pony that was really listening and in front of my leg but not melting down is basically a miracle.

We were working mainly on movements from training level tests. We did a lot of using the whole arena and free walk diagonals as well as free walk zig zags. The closest we came to a meld down was when we were working on changing the bend through a trot diagonal and Katai didn't want to listen to my leg. I've got some homework here to make sure that I'm always riding her between my leg aids and demanding that she listen the first time that I ask and neither making me nag or even throwing herself into my aids (which is her favorite). Mainly though my goal is to do this without making her melt down so I'll be working on being firm but continuing to be tactful.

Should be easy enough...


  1. Love this!! We have to go through some super ugly stuff to get to the good sometimes, but it's always worth it! We are going through a similar phase now and while it's hard to discipline these ponies, it's really paying off. :)

    1. I agree! It's so hard for me in the moment but I often realize later that it was for the best. Now I just have to remember that when it's actually happening :)

  2. I am guilty of believing that if it's not all sunshine and kittens then I must be wrong. But that makes me accept 0 effort and not progress. I then wake up and push a bit. Thanks for the inspiration

    1. This is normally me as well! L is always telling me that I sacrifice correct work for pleasantness and it really is true.

  3. I am kind of a pushover and love positive reinforcement, but my last haflinger taught me that sometimes they are really looking for boundaries and you have to put your foot down. These smart ponies are so complicated and it is a full time job weeding through what is an insecurity, fear, freshness, and what is them just messing with you :)

    1. That is so, so, so true! They really do make it tough.


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