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Knowing When to Push: Lesson Recap 6/26

Yay for lessons again! It had been three weeks out which was honestly just as well since I had been gone and sick and Katai was recovering from her chiro (plus it was really good for my budget) but I’d been missing having that feedback. I was also feeling a little bit of lesson anxiety since I hadn’t made as much progress as I’d wanted to while L was gone and just wasn’t quite sure what we were going to be working on.

For that reason I was really happy when I saw cones set out in the arena. I do really well with clear goals like ground poles or cones provide and I can make myself nitpick a little less which is good for everyone. L had cones set in the middle. Two were set to guide 20 meter circles at either end of the arena and in the middle. At the very center were two cones set the other way to make a 10 meter circle figure eight going the short way across the arena.

The task was to do 20 meter circles at each normal point through the arena and then to do 10 meter circles or 10 meter figure eights at points to help rebalance the pony. Not too surprisingly the beginning of the lesson ended up being more about helping me actually make circles and not odd shapes. I do pretty well through about ¾ of the circle but then I get stuck to the rail and make a 90 degree corner heading away from the rail on the long side. Of course I do that twice on the circle in the middle of the ring. It was tough for me to correct but once I started planning ahead a little more I was starting to make much more even circles and not making Katai do corners all over the place.

Katai was clearly tired and not feeling motivated to be ridden for very long. I’m sure she’s lost some fitness during her vacation (even if a minimal amount) plus it’s gotten hot recently so while our heat index that day wasn’t in the 100s it was still quite hot and that’s very de-motivating for a pony. Especially one that has gained some poundage recently…

I admitted to L that I have a tough time knowing when to push. With Katai it’s such a fine line and she’s such a delicate flower that if you push her much past her comfort zone she starts to fight and not offer anything and then the next few rides I have an extremely defensive pony. If you quit while she’s fresh and don’t push she’s SOO good and generous and offers all kinds of amazing things but of course she never gets any stronger, plus she’ll learn that she can quit when she feels like it.

On Friday I’m confident that I pushed the right amount (basically not at all and yet I called the shots about when we’d end, not her. She was actually surprised that she was done which was my goal.) with how amazing she was. However, it’s tough for me to know when and how long to push on other days especially when she’s continuing to be a rock star. L gave me some great guidance that quitting while I was ahead sometimes is great but that most of the time I should continue about 5-10 minutes past when she wants to quit. That will build strength and yet not push her to the point where she wants to put up a fight at my next ride. This is really helpful for me and I’m going to really focus on doing this so that I can continue to build on Katai’s fitness.

Next Sunday I won’t have a lesson since L is out of town for the 4th and then I’ll be in KY the following weekend for the National Dressage Pony Cup!! L is going to do a training ride that Sunday and then the following week I have off M-F so I’ll have lots of time at the barn. I’m hoping to do some early morning rides and really focus on getting outside!!


  1. I wonder about these same things. I want to encourage cooperativeness so I end sooner when she listens but I try to also add in something new so I've pushed a bit. I'm sure that we'll get it wrong some days and right on others and we have to be okay with that. :)


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