Sunday, April 16, 2017


There was a post going around on FB with an exercise for dressage riders to practice riding from their seat. I liked the pattern and thought Ashke and I would enjoy playing with it. On Saturday, when I got to the barn the only rider, I'll call her Sara, was riding one of her two horses, Sal. She finished up and saddled up Rain while I was getting Ashke ready. I asked her if I could put up some cones and she said yes, so I put up this pattern:

The spacing in the diagram is 36 - 48 feet. I set the cones at about 25' apart, with the two lines of cones closer to 30' apart, which made it seem really huge. I also only used one ground pole at the far end (near to the scary corner) because I wanted to leave enough room for us to work around the cones on the rail. Plus I put it at the top of the pattern in the middle rather than on the right side, so we had to make the turn, line up for the ground pole, and then turn again for the single slalom.

I started my warm up around the outside while Sara warmed up Rain in the inside. Sara and I ride together at night, sometimes, and we do our lessons back to back with Amanda, so we know each other fairly well. I had to spend five minutes or so walking back and forth in front of the scary corner with turn on the haunches at either end, before Ashke decided spooking was too much work. About that time, Sara asked me what the pattern was so I trotted Ashke through it.

I realized the first time through, that it was set a lot bigger than the stuff Ashke and I have been working on, so it would be a "loose" pattern for us. Sara said she could probably trot it, but didn't think they could canter it. We started with the above pattern, and rode through it as directed. Ashke did it great at the trot and even better at the canter (the trot was to show him the pattern). Rain did it handily at the trot and I think even Sara was surprised. Then I tried it at the canter, which Ashke did very well, as long as I was changing my legs properly. We did have a bit of bounce from excitement, but we backed up a bit and kept going. I think we must have inspired Sara, because she and Rain tried it next at the canter. They did really well.

I was showing Sara the double slalom pattern next, when Amanda got to the barn to ride Laz (Her Intermediare I horse). She was so excited about playing with the pattern she threw her western saddle on Laz and hurried out to join us. Sara tried the double slalom at the canter, then rode the first pattern again. By that time, Rain was getting pretty excited about what they were doing and when Sara asked for a canter, Rain crossed the diagonal with dolphin bucks. Sara had to go back and calm her down by doing simple circles, with soft transitions, until Rain had her brain back. By that time, Amanda had joined us in the arena.

Laz was amazing to watch, which shouldn't surprise anyone, considering. Watching Amanda play with him around and through the random patterns she was riding was pretty amazing. Sara rode through the pattern one more time, to show Amanda how they were doing. Then she was out of time to ride, and ended up having to leave. We did have fun riding together, though, and she suggested we play like that again. She is coming to the barn potluck in May and we are going to set out a small course for people to play at WE if they are interested. I think she and Rain would really be good and would enjoy it.

I ended up playing follow the leader with Amanda, until Laz smoked us because his changes were so smooth, Ashke and I couldn't keep up. Ashke did the double slalom in both directions and he was very good. We also did the sidepass pole. Amanda said that in the Western trail class the horse is taught to stay completely straight along the pole and it took Laz a couple of times to recognize he could angle his body to make passing over the pole easier. It was a lot of fun to ride with Amanda and play with the cones.

That was Saturday.

I rode again today. Put up the same pattern, except I set it to 20' (double slalom standards) and warmed up. Then had J video me so there is proof of what we are doing right now.

Doing the circle, pole, slalom 
Still having difficulties finding our distance and stride over the pole.
I am not a jumper.

Double slalom starting with a left first turn

Starting from the right.
He picked up the wrong lead at the end because I wasn't being careful with my legs.

After the last double slalom I was done. I'm still feeling tired and the pollen level is really high, which is effecting my breathing and overall energy level. Ashke seemed a little lethargic today too. I should have taken him out and rode around the field, but I just didn't have the energy.

Heckin golly gosh big pupper doing me a follow


  1. He does a square halt in that first video, right after the reinback and before you ask him to move forwards again. It's only a second but he did do it! 😁

    I remember 2 years ago when you said it would be the year of the canter: you wanted to be able to have the choice of cantering and feeling like one fluid entity. And then Ashke's body decided it had its own agenda. It's happening now! ❤️

    LOVE the pupper video! And your horse. And you.