Breaking Rules

“If you come in the ring like that and do half-steps and someone takes a picture and it ends up on my website, I will sue you for defamation.” I feigned disbelief as I sat outside the arena entrance watching the last set of horses being ridden; I do not typically ride on Sundays, but I took advantage of a break in the chaos to ride Kelso around the property today. Paul would say it’s important to mention I had no saddle. I would say it’s not. Paul then stated it was necessary to be wearing all appropriate equipment to enter “the church.” The importance of wearing a saddle has increased. {We are just doing our best to keep him young.}

Kelso and I have had a couple full weeks at the Pennsylvania Riding Academy. Between my parents visiting, embarking on the adventure of deep cleaning the barn, and keeping Paul on his toes, we have been busy. The WP has also been gracious enough to teach me lots in the last couple of lessons. We have confirmed our changes a bit more, as well as a more consistent neck carriage. A few weeks ago Paul said we needed to start solidifying “an upper level shape” and I almost just got off and went back to the barn because I couldn’t believe it. I somehow stayed on and finished the ride.

In addition to continuing to work on our changes and frame, we have introduced walk pirouettes and more mobile half-steps. The walk pirouettes you see in the video are the first ones we ever did, and Kelso just carried me through them. As always.

The biggest piece of the puzzle that has fallen into place is keeping Kelso more consistently in my hands; this is accomplished by pushing him to my hand through my back and thighs, which creates that solid frame. This has created a very connected and powerful little pony. So much so that I asked Paul, very concerned, one day if I had to accept my fate of having a heavy horse. He talked me off the ledge and said that it is typical to have false lightness in the beginning of training. As a horse powers up more, seeks your hand, and improves their throughness, they can become much heavier. However, this heaviness is alleviated as their self-carriage improves; they become stronger in their haunches and back, which allows them to shift more of their weight back and off their forehand/your hands. One way to do this almost immediately, which I can attest to, is by practicing transitions.

A big component of the video is our canter work. You will see this with our canter-walk transitions and our travers on a circle. Kelso is a clever little guy and will try to phone in the work instead of swinging through his back by just making his canter rock up and down. I have to push him a bit more, which we are able to do now that he doesn’t think everything I push for in the canter means a flying change. It’s really the small things! After we warm up by swinging his canter up, I ask him to do travers on a circle to continue strengthening his haunches and elasticity.

This video was taken a couple of weeks ago, and he has become even more consistent in the changes and shape in the last ten days. I am thrilled with all Kelso has taught me and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Off to go break some rules,

Erin and the WP



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