Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Lesson’ Category

Milton’s Dressage in December

Driving Thursday

Milton is ready for his lesson.

I am the World’s Greatest Groom.

I sit for 20, even 30, whole minutes in the passenger seat of the truck while we drive the carriage over to the lesson barn.

I stand at the foot of the ramp, nobly steering the carriage, while Greg simply lowers 400 pounds of carriage with his hands and a tow strap.

I drag the carriage the amazing distance of several feet to a parking spot.

I endure more minutes in our comfy truck.

I trudge around making sure Rodney has hay in the stall and on the patio and laboriously fill the cookie ball, while Greg faffs about hitching the truck, loading the tack, catching Milton, and so on.

More truck sit.

We arrive.

I remain with Milton, attempting to convince him that being left with me does not constitute abandonment, while Greg amuses himself clearing the ring and moving the carriage.

Tack up. Lunge.

I play immovable object in front of Milton, while Greg runs from side to side attaching and adjusting straps.


I stand, peppermints at the ready, poised to leap into the ring if Milton needs to be headed.

Lesson over.

More immovable object, while all the previously adjusted straps are unbuckled.

I lead Milton all. the. way. back to the trailer. Start undoing the rest of the straps.

Milton is untacked and taken away to be washed. I check my mail.

More watching of Milton, while ring is put to rights.

Bored with Milton-watching, I load up.

We leave.

Milton returns home. I lug brushbox and assorted items from trailer, while Greg unloads tack, rinses trailer, unhitches, and loads winches & co into bed of trailer.

Yet more time in passenger seat, while we reverse the process to pick up the carriage.

I’m a freaking saint.

Rodney continues to be imperturbable when Milton leaves.

My horse is the World’s Greatest Lawn Ornament.

Show Report Driving & Lessons

A sign that one might need to work on straightness.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Back in the Saddle Seat

Saddle Seat Wednesday

Rode last week. Not riding would have wasted a whole week of dreading [Warning, More Whining]. Robert was, of course, wonderful.

A ride in the grand old man, Roberto.

A post shared by @ rodneyssaga on

… on … Photo by Courtney Huguley.

My problem is one of certainty rather than confidence. I can be plenty arrogant confident when I feel that I know what I am doing. There were moments waiting for my classes on Sunday morning at Nationals when I was not totally a hot mess [Show Report]. The problem comes when I am not sure. If I am not 100% certain, then I must be completely lost, no?

I am an either/or person. (IRL friends are rolling their eyes so hard right now.) It is no accident that my eventing colors were black & white [Best Laid Plans]. I’m not good with gray areas. Never have been.

Unfortunately, for me there will always be an element of uncertainty with saddle seat. When a ride goes sour, my instinct is to sit in the center of the saddle and put my leg on. This is not what ASBs are trained to expect. Therefore, I either get ignored or make a deteriorating situation worse.

OTOH, some people do become fluent in a second language [Nice Horses and Lesson Programs, ex-pat theory].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott


Warning, More Whining

Saddle Seat Wednesday

Why? Because I’m sharing the journey. Because one day we will all look back on this and laugh?

Last week, I left the barn without riding.

I went over to Stepping Stone Farm. I watched Miss Courtney work a horse. Afterwards, she proposed two lovely horses for my lesson. The idea of getting on a horse appalled me. There was no looming horse show to push me forward. I went home.

I don’t understand myself. Riding fills me with dread. Yet, I can’t bring myself to walk away.

I had hoped Dottie would be the horse to help me find my mojo. Not so much. Turns out that whole run up to Nationals was an shining detour rather than a path back. As I sit here typing, thinking about riding Dottie makes me reach for the Pepto – and she is awesome.

Back to the whining drawing board. Onwards. (Not feeling it, but saying it anyway. Words have power. I hope.)

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott


Hippity Hoppity

Fortunately this ended well.

During Greg’s most recent driving lesson at Stepping Stone Farm, we over-adjusted some of the straps, apparently. As soon as Milton moved off, he started bucking in harness. Not a sight one wants to see. Coach Courtney gave swift but calmly-voiced instructions. Greg handled it. In retrospect, it was a few bucks over a short distance. Milton recovered immediately. The rest of us took a while longer.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott



Driving Tuesday

Well, that was unexpected.

We showed up for Greg’s third groundwork lesson at Stepping Stone Farm [First, SSF] expecting more of the same. After about 5 minutes, Coach Courtney says, “So Greg, want to hook him?” Um, yes? I guess? We knew Milton would be put to a cart sometime this summer. Today was not on our radar.

Still, Miss Courtney liked way Milton was going and decided to get on with it. That’s why one hires a professional. Technique is the easy part. Knowing when to apply that technique is what takes a lifetime to master.

I dragged out the additional straps. Turns out Greg had been bringing all the gear along in case it might be needed. One of the barn Munchkins brought the jog cart up to the big ring. Greg grounddrove for a few minutes. We hitched. Miss Courtney drove from behind the cart while Greg led. They switched. We unhitched. Everyone exhaled. Milton was showered with praise.

Milton was awesome. Coach Courtney was awesome. Greg was awesome. Greg keeps asking me how Milton looked pulling a cart. I have no idea. I was so deeply, intensely focused on the lack of hysteria that I didn’t really see much else.

Not that the day was without drama. While getting ready, Milton got away and ran around field wearing half of his shipping boots. Then, shifting from long lines to driving reins involved a bridle adjustment. Milton objected. On the way from the covered arena to the big ring, Milton spooked and spun in several circles, taking out spectators and crashing into a truck (horse, spectators and truck are all fine). I would have pulled the plug. In the ring, Milton fussed about the clouds of gnats. In his defense, the bugs where vile.

The one thing he didn’t seem to care about all day was the cart rattling along behind him. Yay! The next step is for the driver to sit in the cart. Then, lots and lots of schooling. While there is still a ways to go before we can consider Milton a driving horse, this was a huge step. As Greg said,

Before Sat, Milton as a driving horse was a hypothetical. It is still hypothetical, but a whole lot closer to real.

No pictures. Deliberately. I wanted to stay vigilant rather than worry about recording the moment. Next time, expect many, many photos.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Rodney’s Dressage May 2017

Breaking out the full-seat britches for lesson #2.

No surprise, our second lesson built on the first one [Dressage]. We halted. We trotted a few laps. Mr. E says we would have cantered if the footing had been better. On the grand scale of things, it remains pitiful. On our personal scale, it was FANTASTIC. A few of the strides where the best dressage I’ve done. Ever.

Perhaps it is Mr. E’s approach. He doesn’t use the ‘push with the inside leg, hold the outside rein’ blather. Or perhaps I’ve never had a horse who can do what I ask. Either way, Mr. E says ‘Do X,Y,Z.’ I do. Rodney does. Cool.

Partway through the lesson, Rodney was tight? Tired? Tense? I wasn’t sure. This made me miss Previous Horse. I’ve thought of PH as my heart horse because I always knew what he was thinking [In Defense of Caesar]. Now, I’m starting to wonder. I could hear him, but he never had the slightest interest in listening to me. That’s not a communication. That’s one party being loud about what they want. Regardless, I need to put the past behind me and ride the horse I have.

I’ve spent a lot of blog time pondering how the different riding disciplines overlap [Styling]. In my last saddle seat lesson, Coach Courtney told me to set my hands. Okay, I will, but that is the Wrong Way to Ride. One should have soft, following hands that are sympathetic to the horse’s mouth. Obviously. Fast forward to dressage lesson. For trotting, Mr. E told me not to pull but not to give. Really? That sounds a lot like Set Your Hands.

Later, Mr. E wanted me to use my knees. In fact, he asked, ‘How hard can you dig your knees in?’ Well, after five years of saddle seat, pretty durn hard. We will overlook the fact that my heels shot out sideways as I did so.

On a final note, Rodney seems to really like Mr. E. With both his chaperone [It Takes A Village] and Mr. E on the sidelines, Rodney started out the ride super relaxed.

Update: further thoughts from Mr. E in comments. See “themuerdago” below.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

The Downside of Driving

Driving Thursday

That’s a lot of tack to clean.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott