Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Riding’ Category

What’s Up With Milton

Getting back to SSF trips for Milton. In the small ring, he’s awesome: relaxed, rideable, unflappable. In other places, he is still awesome, but more dubious.

He prefers the semi-enclosed, covered ring to the fenced-in, coverless big ring.

He prefers both to being outside of a ring.

This is problematic creates a learning opportunity for a horse whose dancecard includes marathon and cross-country.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Here We Stand, Still

Rodney and I stand around. A lot. It goes as far back as standing untacked next to the barn in a leather halter [Here We Stand]. I don’t want to think about how many years ago that was. (2013 for those who don’t want to click over.) These days we are standing mounted. Progress. Slow, incremental, microscopic progress.

1) I do it because he has trouble with it. When Rodney began working on halts, he kept popping out of gear [Meanwhile December 2016]. He eventually got it [Rodney March 2017]. The first time we tried to stand by ourselves, we lasted 8 minutes [It Takes A Village May 2017]. We average 20 minutes now.

2) I do it because I am alone. On the weekends, we do more when we have a spectators to supervise/help/talk us down out of the trees. When I am riding on my own, I don’t push the envelope. This is the size of our envelope at the moment.

3) I do it because we need a reset button. When Rodney gets wound up – whether for reasons internal or external – we need a safe space. With Previous Horse, it was walking on a long rein. Or getting off, if he really lost it. For Rodney, for the moment, standing brings peace and counts as a success.

Thank you for reading,

Katherine Walcott

Switching Horses


Rodney -> Milton is no problem. Milton is perfectly happy for me to ride correctly [Rodney as Word Processing Software].

Milton -> Rodney is problem. Rodney is a subtle beast. I am not. Neither is Milton.

Milton is not lazy, not school-horse lazy. Milton is … considerate. He wants to be sure that you mean what you say.

Rider/Driver: Milton, trot.
Milton: Really?
Rider/Driver: Milton, trot.
Milton: Seriously?
Rider/Driver: Milton, trot.
Milton: Okay.

I have an electric seat. It keeps Milton moving along. On Rodney, an electric seat translates as Go! GO! GO NOW! I have to recalibrate.

Rodney never gets bored. We are up to 20+ minutes of mounted stand exercise. He doesn’t shuffle his feet; nor does he zone out. He stands, quiet and relaxed, engaged in surveying his world. He does standing meditation better than most people.

Rodney is alive to nuance. I need to be as well.

If you ride two (or more) horses, do you switch mindsets when you switch horses? If so, how?

You may be sensing a sameness in my recent Rodney photos.


Welcome to my world. We do more on the weekends, but not much. Festina lente, emphasis on the lente.
[Rodney as Word Processing Software]
[Rodney’s Schedule?]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Rodney’s Schedule?


With all this talk of logistics [Milton’s Schedule, Saddle Seat, Driving], do I have a plan for Rodney? Yes, the same one I’ve had for years. Keep plodding forward and hope for a miracle [Sidney Harris]. I’ve identified two mini-miracles that might almost count as steps. Not goals. I don’t do goals [Not].

1) Restart trailer acclimation sessions. Go slow. See if one day we can get him shipping locally either to the enclosed spaces of Stepping Stone Farm or to restart dressage lessons [Leg Yield]. The last time we tried standing Rodney on the trailer, he panicked so hard that he injured himself despite having his lower legs covered with wraps the thickness of mattress padding [Dubious Future].


2) Find an instructor who can come to the farm. I’d still have the footing and facility issues but at least we would be creeping forward.

What about shows? Pfffft. If eventing is not on Milton’s horizon, shows are not even on Rodney’s planet. If this doesn’t sound as positive and uplifting as last week’s plans for Milton, there is a reason for that. Stay tuned.
Above photo: inspiration for including part of the tack in an earpic came from Modern Equestrian on Instagram, View from the top. Rodney displays a suitable lack of excitement about doing his stand exercise in a new part of the pasture.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Rodney as Word Processing Software

Milton is LibreOffice, or Microsoft Word, or any commercially available text program. You want the word “Hello”. You open a file. You type. You get five letters at the top of a page: black, serif, 12 point font, probably Times Roman. Straightforward. Useful for a wide range of activities. Not what you would use to design the marketing strategy of a national chain.

Rodney is FontForge. You want “Hello”? Where do you want it? What size? What color? What thickness on the upstrokes? How do you want to adjust the kerning? Immensely powerful. Immensely complicated.

Rodney will do exactly what I ask him to do. Exactly. If he goes cattywompus around a corner, it’s because I sat cattywompus around a corner. If I want a simple right turn at the walk, I have to check that my balance is properly adjusted down the outside of my body and leg, sit up tall, and bring my inside shoulder up and back. Voilà, a balanced and accurate corner.

The simplest move is complex. Does that mean the complex moves will be simple? Our one exposure to lateral work would indicate yes [Dressage June 2017: We Leg Yield, Who Knew?]. If I can sort myself out to ask correctly, I can design logos that would win Clio Awards.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

I Do It All, But Not as Well As Milton Does

Saddle Seat Wednesday

I did not show last weekend. I did not feel ready.

Between rain, the holidays, the cold snap, and riding (yay!) and driving Milton, I’ve only had two saddle seat lessons since the last show [Show Report]. This was not enough to give me confidence that Whiskey and I were ready to go back into the show ring.

It is possible that the more I ride the home team (Kermit dance!), the more my saddle seat will deteriorate [Pondering]. Although I have not yet figured a way to continue dressage lessons [Dubious Future], whenever I sit on Rodney, I try what I can remember of the exercises. Every time this happens, I reinforce my dressage/hunter/jumper/eventing habits and move farther from inexplicable correct saddle seat habits, i.e. hands in the air, grip with the knees, sit on the cantle. Riding Milton (yippee!) will double the effect.

Even Greg’s driving tips the balance away from saddle seat. Combined driving is based on eventing. Driven dressage is ridden dressage with cart added. Listening to his lessons and watching him at shows puts me in the d/h/j/e headspace.

I had a brief reprieve in November, but the only thing Nationals proved was that I can ride Dottie [Show Report], which is right up there with proving one can drive Alvin.

This isn’t a bad thing. I have two sets of horses to ride. (!!!) More learning is good. I have faith that I can do both, eventually. For a while, it’s gonna get confusing, mostly for saddle seat. The habits of 40 years will always win out over the habits of 5 years.

Confession: There was another reason I did not show. Greg was not able to join me. I showed at the first Winter Tournament without him. It was not fun. My rides were fine [Show Report]. Beforehand, not so much. As I’ve said before [NRHA 2016], I don’t get any less nervous when he is there, I just have someone to be nervous at. I hope I will get my act together sufficiently that I can show without such intense moral support, at least at the little, one-day shows. This weekend was not that time.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton Does It All


I am reversing my position [I know I wrote a post about this. Can’t find it. My search-fu is failing me]. I think sharing Milton will be a good thing rather than a thing that needs to be dealt with.

First, fitness. If Milton is to get in shape for a CDE, someone will have to condition him during the week. That would be me. Said conditioning will be more successful if I am aboard instead of trotting next to him.

Dressage lessons? I ride Saturday; Greg drives Sunday. Driven dressage is ridden dressage with a cart. No problems here.

Finally, Milton is the sort of horse who thinks he got it even when he don’t. After the third rendition of an exercise, I can see Milton start to phone it in. Physically, Milton needs to do it again. Mentally, his attention has wandered. Constantly changing up the approach will be a benefit rather than a distraction.

That’s the theory. For now.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott