I have a new trainer.  If you're really stalky-stalky, you can figure out who she is (not a challenge, guys!), but on this blog she'll be Katy.

Katy is a level three certified USEA trainer who once rode Rolex ("many years ago"), has a seven year old Prix St. Georges horse (which seems like a lot of achievement to me), and swooned with me over Denny Emerson (who she's had a meal with!).

After returning from NYC last Monday, I vegged for a few hours and then headed out to the barn with the truck to hook up the trailer.  Whiskey and I were having our first official adventure.

Getting him on the trailer was a lot harder by myself, but I managed.  Definitely something we're going to work on and something that I'll practice between hauls.  Pony needs to self-load like a mofo'ing gentleman.

Fortunately, baby steps, Katy's barn is only about twenty minutes from mine.  As I was pulling up her driveway, I saw one of my friends pull in behind me.  Yay, an audience!

I was super fucking nervous, so I wasn't as appreciative about having my friends there, especially when the second one showed up.  They're invested in me and my horses and my success, so I need to be better about showing my appreciation.  I was so worried about everything else, I didn't have time to worry about Whiskey acting like Archie at a new place and trying to kill me.  This horse is a freaking saint.

When the lesson actually started, Katy asked about our history and our goals.  I want to run BN on this horse and then advance even further in dressage.  She absolutely adored him and remarked constantly on his confirmation and movement.  When I admitted that I paid a dollar for him, she said we were meant to be.  I saw something in this raggedly old Appy, standing in a field with horrible feet and a grass belly.

Lady, save me.
Okay, so anyways, we worked on walk and trot mostly, with a little bit of canter, all while hanging out on a 20 meter circle.  Some points came up immediately:
  • I drive with my seat.  I don't even think about it.
  • Whiskey is slow to respond to my leg - which I've been using incorrectly.  I need to nudge with my upper calves, then my heel.  I just jump straight to heel and nag nag nag.
  • I will forever be riding this horse from inside to outside.  When we're tracking right, it's going to be harder and more insistent and that much more important.
  • He's a beautiful mover with a decent stride, but he's just as lazy as his owner.
  • Oh and my stirrups, in my jump saddle, are no less than two holes too long.  Bummer.

Trying to pick up the right lead canter, it became painfully apparent that he would much rather dive his inside shoulder in and pick up the outside lead.  Like, to the point that I thought Katy was going to get mowed over because I just could not move him.

So we stopped with the active work right then and started with some "subtle" lateral work.  I faced Whiskey towards Katy and the point was to get him to shift his body while pivoting around her with his neck straight.  It wasn't super easy but I felt like he tried really hard to understand my cues and Katy was quick to give him breaks and to tell me to praise him.

After that exercise, we did a few more trot sessions tracking right, the purpose of which was to stay on the 20 meter circle, but to leg yield out on the open end.  Did I mention?  My pony can leg yield and side pass and turn on the forehand (we're still working on the haunches).  We also did some spirals in and out, but I can't remember at which point.

Then she gave me homework:
  • Watch videos of Chris Burton on XC.  She said that this was the best means to see a horse in front of the leg because Chris' horses are so well-trained and so responsive.
This my favorite.
  • Work on getting Whiskey in front of my leg.  Any forward response is a good response.
  • Work on side passing on a 20 meter circle.  Trot the circle.  At the first x (quarterline), halt and turn him in.  Keeping his front hooves on the circle, side pass him to the centerline, the second x.  Turn him back out on the circle, using legs.  And alternate trotting a full 20 or working this exercise, so he doesn't get bored or anticipatory.  You know, both directions.
After all that painful groundwork, she consented to let me try jumping, so she could "see the whole picture".  She had two trot poles set up and had me trot through them in either direction, twice.  Surprise, surprise, Whisk tripped before the second set and I fell off.  At least I got it out of the way?

It took proving that I was competent and I finally got to "jump" the little crossrail she'd set up.

Since a few of my friends came out, I've gotten a few others excited about riding with Katy, too.  My plan is to take a lesson a week, with respect to both of our busy schedules.  I'm just stoked.  Whiskey is going to be amazing.

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  1. He's definitely looking much better from the last videos I saw of him. Glad you found someone to help you get started on your goals!

  2. As someone who paid $1 for a scraggly horse alone in a pasture, I see good things for your future.

  3. dude Whiskey is a very cool horse - i like him a lot and think you guys have exciting things together in your future!

  4. Glad you found a trainer that you are excited about! Looking forward to seeing you too grow and progress together.

  5. Love this post! I'm working on some of the exact same issues with my mare. This was super helpful!

  6. Yay! Glad you're excited and got some plans. Good luck

  7. What wonderful plans! I'm excited to hear more about your lessons with Katy. Go Whiskey Go!

  8. So exciting! Whiskey is a wonderful dude <3

  9. That is so awesome!! Lessons are so fun :)

  10. I'm so excited for you guys! He's lovely and I'm so happy you found someone awesome to train with.

  11. This is so exciting!! Finding a good trainer is half the battle. And I can't wait to meet Whiskey!

  12. Such a good feeling finding a trainer that will work for you!

  13. I'd missed the previous videos of him... he is a stinking CUTE mover! Sounds like you've got some great homework exercises already (which I am totally going to steal)... can't wait to watch him come along!

  14. Woohoo!! So excited for you guys and it's amazing how different he looks already :)