Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Wheels!

While Cupid's been resting up his back, I kept myself busy trailer shopping!  I agonized over the decision - it is expensive, and I don't really need one.  But it would be fun to be able to take Cupid more places!  So I thought, it couldn't hurt to look.  I would need an aluminum trailer, since our area is very damp and foggy steel would get destroyed.  Plus it can't be too heavy, so I can pull it with my large SUV.  I was open to either straight or slant load, though I've never tried Cupid in a straight.  I would prefer to have a dressing room.

I finally came across a nice, gently used but impeccably maintained Classic Monarch 2 horse slant load bumper pull.  What sold me was the rumber floors - no heavy mats to lift and clean under!  It looks like it's equipped for camping, it has a water tank and a high line tie up.  It also has a swing out saddle rack. 

My first time hitching it up, at the dealer lot, went well.  The salesguy was helped direct me, and showed me how to attach everything.  It was about a two hour drive home, and I was surprised how easy it felt the trailer just followed along behind the car, and stopped and turned smoothly.  (I have never pulled a trailer so I was a little nervous!)  I stopped at a large parking lot for a little practice.  I thought I was doing good, but then I couldn't back up into my parking spot back at the barn.  The barn manager was trying to help direct me, it was pretty embarrassing!  But with a little more practice I think I'll get it.  I can't wait for all the new adventures awaiting Cupid and me!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Back Out

On Tuesday Cupid started feeling stiff, but seemed to work out of it.  He looked good lunging on Wednesday.  But on Thursday he let me know he was not feeling good.  We started off okay walking around to warm up, but when I asked him to trot he balked.  I asked again and he started backing up.  I tapped him with the crop and he kicked out, and backed up some more.  I try to not make a big deal out it; I will tap-tap with the whip behind my leg and be gentle but firm.  My trainer said even if he is not feeling good he needs to be obedient.

So we did a few easy trot laps to see if he would work out of it - he wasn't lame but he just felt short in the hind and I gave him the benefit of doubt that he really is uncomfortable not just being lazy.  So we just did a little walk work, which we actually needed to do anyways.  I tend to let Cupid get lazy at the walk, or try to get him more forward by what my trainer calls shoving him with my hips.  So I tried to keep my seat lighter and use my leg (and small tap-tap with the whip if necessary).  We did some medium walk and free walk, and then a little leg yielding at the walk, quarter line to wall.  This ride and last for some reason it's been easier leg yielding on one long side of the arena compared to the other.  The easier side does not have a wall, but I don't know if that's the reason.  I would think the other side would be easier because we're going towards the gate! We ended with practicing a little turn on the forehand. 

Then we had our chiropractor appointment, which couldn't come at a better time!  I told the Dr. that something seemed to be off.  She said his lower back was out, and also made some adjustments to his neck.  She showed me a new stretch, basically standing behind Cupid and cupping his ilium (what I think of as the point of the hip) and lean back.  Cupid seemed to like it when she did it.  She recommended giving him a few days off, and then taking it pretty easy the next week with no jumping or collection.  I feel bad that I made him do anything at all the last few days, even though we took it easy I should have listened to him. :(

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recap - Slow & Steady

Things have continued going well for Cupid and me.

Thursday - I had a good flatwork lesson, though Cupid was struggling a little with the footing and we didn't get the left lead canter our first attempt.  My trainer said I need to package Cupid a little more to make sure his hind end is engaged and he is stepping underneath himself.

Friday - My trainer rode Cupid.  She said he was very good, and got the left lead canter each time he asked but it took a few extra trot steps so I need to make sure I prepare and set him up.  But not to override it, use the smallest aids possible and believe it will happen.  The worst thing that will happen is we keep trotting, so just re-organize and try again!  My trainer said they popped over a few small jumps, and Cupid was very good and relaxed.

Saturday - I had a very fun lesson with a poles course!  We warmed up doing trot poles (3 poles, one stride apart).  I needed to encourage Cupid just a little bit to make the strides, but he figured it out quick.  So we did a little course going over the trot poles, picking up a canter and going over a pole and then a cavaletti.  We finished by adding a very small vertical, which my trainer told me to think of as just another cavaletti.  But somehow we kept having trouble meeting it right, so did it cantering on a circle a few times and finally it felt right.  I really enjoyed working on a course without the stress of actual jumps!

Sunday - Cupid and I did some flatwork in the outdoor arena.  The big tarp pile that was sitting outside the arena the past few months was gone, which helped keep Cupid focused because even though he's seen it dozens of times he still likes to eye it and sometimes drift away from it.  We did a short canter each direction, doing the easier side first.  Then I did a trot change across the middle and we got the left lead first try.  We did a little bending and leg yielding.  Cupid was very good, so we only did about 20 minutes and then walked around the property for a little hack / cool down.
Giving me the guilt trip don't go face at the gate!

Monday - Day off!

Tuesday - Lesson.  Cupid did not feel very good, not lame but he seemed uncomfortable when I asked him to trot.  I kept him at an easy trot and he started to feel better after a few laps.  My trainer thought maybe it was just the change in the weather - it was a cool foggy day after a bit of a hot spell.  So we kept going, but kept it a little easy; no small circles or anything new.  We trotted big loop serpentines, and did a few canter transitions and were able to get the lead correct each time, though once going to the left it felt like Cupid's hind end slipped out from under him a little.  My trainer said to make sure to keep his outside shoulder from popping out, and keep the bend consistent in the circle.  We ended with a little leg yielding. 

Wednesday - Lunging and ground work.  We did plain side reins today.  Then we worked on walk to halt from the ground, and then a little shoulder fore.  My trainer did a little haunches in, and Cupid finds the whip on his hindquarters a little annoying and kicked out a few times!  I know he should always yield to pressure, so we need to work on this more.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Jump for Joy

Cupid and I didn't jump the past 2 weeks, but he has been really good and our flatwork has been going so well I was actually looking forward to jumping again!  Cupid was a touch lazy in our warm up, which made me feel comfortable heading toward our first jump.  We trotted over a crossrail a few times going to the right, then to the left.  Then we cantered it each direction.  It came easy on the right.  To the left the first time we got there a little long, though it was my idea as I saw that spot.  The second time around I half halted a few strides out and sat up, and we chipped a little.  The third time we got it perfect!

We have some new white planks in the arena, they were set as a crossrail on a diagonal with another jump two strides out.  My trainer and I went through where to turn in the corner, and the line I should be on.  We still went a little wide, so the bad approach with the new looking jump made Cupid hesitate and we almost stopped in front of it, but I encouraged him on and we hopped over and continued down the line.  The next time was much smoother.

We put together a little course, starting with our warm up fence coming to the left, continuing on the left and jumping a little vertical on the diagonal, then coming back to a trot to the 2 stride combo on the other diagonal.  Cupid remained nice and relaxed, I was really happy with him!  I am also feeling the improvements I've been making and am happy with that progress.

The following day I got on Cupid bareback, just planning on walking around the property a bit.  The horses in the paddocks had their heads up, and some were running around.  Then I saw the reason for the commotion, a loose horse!  Cupid's head and tail shot up and he started prancing a little.  I considered jumping off, but we halted and Cupid stool still watching.  The loose horse was captured.  Cupid was still a little excited, and looky as we walked on but he behaved aside form one spot where he balked a little. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quick recap

Not much has happened since the dressage show.  We had a few rides where Cupid seemed a little distracted or got quick, but our last few rides have been great.  We have been focusing on our flatwork, first because I didn't really want to jump when he was less relaxed, and then the arena footing changed and needs a few days to settle because Cupid doesn't seem as comfortable when it's deep.

When he does get quick, I usually get him trotting in a ~20 meter circle, changing posting diagonals a few times and getting him to accept my inside leg and bend.  Once he starts to settle I may do a few do a few transitions asking him to walk a few steps then back to trot.  Then I will do some transitions within the trot, asking him to shorten a few steps then forward.  I add a few ~10 meter circles at the more collected trot.  Usually after about 15 minutes he behaves.

We had a great lesson in the German martingale.  It helps steady the contact and Cupid goes very with it.  I'm working towards getting that same feeling without it.  

My trainer has suggested I lunge him more, as well as do a little groundwork.  He's gotten better about lunging, not so lazy.  He is very good at the groundwork, and I think enjoys the interaction. 

The weather has been unpredictable.  We had a few cold misty days, followed by several hot days.  I was supposed to have a lesson yesterday but my trainer and I decided to postpone because of the weather.  Instead I put on my bareback pad and Cupid and I went for a nice hack around the property.
Cold and misty one week...

to needing a fly mask and fly sheet the next!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Seven Oaks Dressage Extravaganza

On Sunday morning I groomed Cupid, put him on the trailer, and we set off to a nearby farm for a dressage schooling show.  This time we arrived with plenty of time before our first test!  Cupid seemed pretty relaxed when we arrived.  I tacked up and we headed to the warm up ring.

Cupid was pretty good warming up, though he didn't like one corner of the arena where there were some jumps and stuff stored.  He also got startled when horses walked down the path behind the hedges along the ring.  We walked around a few times, then trotted on a circle to get Cupid accepting my leg.  We cantered each direction, then trotted a square each direction.  Then it was show time!

Our first test was Training 1, which we did at our last show.  It went pretty good, though Cupid got a little crooked down the long side passing by some water tanks, and the other side where there was a viewing platform.  He stumbled a bit in the canter transition, there was a big wet spot in the arena.  But overall I was quite happy.  This time Cupid did not whinny at all.

We had about half an hour until our second test.  At my trainer's suggestion I went back to the trailer and got off and let Cupid relax for about 10 minutes.  He ate a little hay and drank some water, and seemed relaxed.  I got back on and we went back to the warm up arena.  Cupid was super!  When it was time to head to the arena I was feeling really good, expecting we were going to have a great test.  But, that was not the case.

From the moment we entered the arena Cupid was like a different horse, totally unsettled.  He trotted around quickly, with his head high.  He bucked into the canter!  We careened around the 20 meter circle, I was probably pretty much up in 2 point.  Then I forgot the test!  The bell rang, luckily at this schooling show they let you continue.  Cupid has been doing a great stretching trot, but he just giraffe-necked through it.  However our free walk was quite good.  Then we went back into trot, and Cupid picked up a canter a few strides before I could get him back down to a trot.  We did our canter circle, went back down to a trot and I thought we were going to run over a squirrel that was in our path, which seemed like the cherry on top of this disaster.  It was going so poorly I couldn't help but laugh.  But our grand finale ended up being Cupid stumbling into the final halt, almost falling on his face. 

I don't know what happened since Cupid had been so good all day, maybe he just had enough and was ready to go home.  We got a score of 67% for our first test, and the comment said that Cupid was a "lovely horse who seemed to enjoy his work."  On our second test we got comments of : naughty, rambunctious, and exuberant.  It also said: "Tactful rider handles exuberant horse well. However, there needs to be an improvement of overall bend, balance, and roundness to better meet the requirements of this level."

I know Cupid and I are capable of much better, and hopefully next time it will come together.  It was a good learning experience though.  And since I was the only person in my division we came home with a blue and red ribbon.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


The last week has been very hot.  Cupid has been sweating just standing.  So we took it a little easy this week.

Monday - I planned on riding in the outdoor ring in the morning, but it was closed for maintenance so instead Cupid and I just went for for a hack around the property.  One of the paths we hadn't been on in a while due to it being overgrown with branches and brush has been cleaned up, so we went down that.  It runs parallel to the busy road, but with thick shrubbery in between.  I still don't like it when loud big rigs or motorcycles zoom by, but Cupid is not bothered by the noise.  He was very good!  We walked for about half an hour and didn't have any spooks.

Tuesday - Flatwork lesson.  Started out lazy but eventually Cupid woke up a little.  His leg yields have been really good lately, showing more lateral movement.

Wednesday - Rest day.

Thursday - Dressage lesson in the outdoor.  Cupid was a little distracted, and had a few little spooks.  He still doesn't like the end of the arena with the chairs alongside, and tarp pile outside, and tried to cut this corner.  He also seemed to be struggling with the footing in the arena a little.  We tried avoiding the far end where it is more deep and uneven, but he had a few stumbles elsewhere too.
We went through my dressage test twice.  The first time I got lost, oops!  We had a little trouble with the left lead today, I hope that won't happen at the show.  Since Cupid had a few spooks and stumbles, plus trying to remember my test I was riding a little defensively (leaning forward), which I still need to work on.

Friday - Flatwork lesson.  My trainer had me ride with the crop under my thumbs.  This was a really good exercise for me because it helped me feel when I was twisting my wrist, and also realize when I was leaning.  I am having a hard time getting a good walk out of Cupid, not letting him be too lazy.

Saturday - Group jumping lesson!  This was a fun change of pace, I had 3 other ladies in my group.  We practiced a lot of 2 point, and took turns cantering.  There were a few other people in the arena as well, and Cupid was being very good with all the activity.  During the warm up he was actually quite lazy and got passed a few times.
Then we did a little grid.  First it was two crossrails one stride apart, trot in canter out and halt.  Then we added a third jump, and then the last two became verticals.  Cupid was a little excited, I circled him before we started the grid until he settled down and also gave a half halt before the first jump.  He was a little more eager than I like, but we went through it several times.  Though we did almost touch the arena rail before halting a few times!  My trainer said I still need to work on sitting up in between the jumps, but my last time was the best one.  Our straightness is getting better too.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Trail Ride, Purisima Creek Redwoods

Purisima Creek Redwoods is only about a half mile from our barn, but in the past when I've taken Cupid there he got very anxious walking away from home.  When my trainer offered to trailer over, I was curious to see how he would be.  We loaded the horses for the short ride with their saddles on, so when we got there all we needed to do was tighten the girths and put bridles on.  I used a small post to mount, and we were off.  Cupid headed down the trail on a loose rein, behaving perfectly!  I knew he was relaxed when we tried to eat some weeds along the path.  It was a warm day, but luckily most of time we were shaded by trees.

I was super happy with how good, and brave, Cupid was.  He had no problem with the changes in light, or walking by large boulder type rocks or anything else we encountered. 

The one down side on this park is that you start at the highest point, so you start by walking down hill before it flattens out a little, then heads down some more.  We rode side by side, or sometimes Cupid led.  The trail does not loop around, and when we turned around Cupid did get a little quick.  But since it was all uphill, he was puffing and sweating before long. 

We got back to the parking lot, got off and walked the horse to cool them off.  Cupid was pretty soaked in sweat by this point.  I hosed him off when we got back to the barn. 

The next day we had a flat lesson, with our German martinale on.  I think Cupid was a little sore from the hills, because he felt a little uncoordinated.  So we took it easy, a little shorter and not doing anything new but I still made sure Cupid gave me what I asked such as making him go in a good working trot instead of just an easy jog.  His attitude was quite good, so I promised him the following day off!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Continuing Progress Over Jumps

Tuesday - We did a little grid work in our lesson.  We started out just jumping the first element, a crossrail, and halting at the end.  Then my trainer added a second crossrail one stride out.  Then the second one became a vertical, and we added a bounce with just a pole on the ground.  All the while keeping the halt at the end.  I was a little nervous because there was a horse lunging in the arena, down at the end we halted.  This always makes me a little leery, and Cupid was picking up some vibes but overall he was quite good.  My main focuses were on staying straight, and working on my release.  My trainer said I don't catch Cupid in the mouth, which is good, but I need to push my hands forward more over the jumps.  It was easier over the second jump, with the first one I was trying to make sure he wasn't rushing into it!

Wednesday - We took the day off, but the weather was so beautiful I was tempted to play hooky from work and go on a trail ride!

Thursday - Joint lesson with my trainer's other student I often ride/show with.  I like the joint lessons.  We are similar levels and often need to fix the same things, and I can always learn from watching someone else.  Cupid likes it because he gets a bit more breaks. ;)  At first I had to work pretty hard to get Cupid going, he was extra lazy.  But he eventually woke up.

We did a warm up crossrail, trot it a few times then canter, then switch directions.  It was great going to the right, harder on the left and we got a few longer spots.  But I worked on my approach and sitting up and we did better.

Then we did a little course: left lead canter over the warm up fence; stay left and jump a vertical on the diagonal; then roll back to the rail, trot and go left over a small crossrail and halt.  The first time through I forgot my course and got lost!  Oops I haven't done that in a while.  My trainer put up a few cones to help me turn at the correct place.  Then we added a vertical after after the second jump and roll back.  We cantered the first three jumps, and trotted the last one.  The halt was the worst part as Cupid kept drifting left, and I was too distracted trying to get him straight so I didn't halt until we were almost at the fence.  But I was very proud of us for cantering the course! Cupid was so nice and relaxed that I didn't worry at all.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Turning a Corner

I feel like Cupid and I have both made a lot of progress - it's been almost 3 years of hard work but it's finally starting to come together!  For me, I'm making incremental improvements in my stiff elbows and hips, and starting to sit up straighter.  Cupid is starting to develop a frame, and seeking contact.

We not only are figuratively turning a corner, but also went over our first corner jump this week!  It was about 2' tall, and set on blue blocks.  My trainer told me to jump it on the narrow end, but made it a little easier for me by putting a wing on that side.  Cupid had been eying the blue blocks in the ring earlier, so I wanted to make sure I had him straight and keep my leg on.  He ended up jumping over a little bigger than I expected!  But I was pleased with both of us for doing it.
Our first corner jump

We did a course of about 6 jumps, including a little vertical, a one stride combo, a semi-skinny, and the corner.  The one stride was a touch long, but after the first time through (when we got the second element a little long) Cupid and I figured out how to navigate it more smoothly.  My trainer said I'm doing a much better job getting to the jumps straight.  Now I just have to get more confident with doing it all at a canter!

On Friday we tried on a few Stubben dressage saddles.  The saddle fitter also looked at my jump saddle, and said it still fits Cupid well but recommended I go back to the wool half pad instead of my thinline.  I'm having a hard time picking a dressage saddle because I pretty much like them all!  I was hoping that one would really stand out above the rest, but so far that hasn't happened.  Cupid was very patient with all the saddle changes, and letting me test all the saddles even after he worked pretty hard in our lesson.

I gave Cupid Saturday off since he pretty much did double duty on Friday, so I thought he would be nice and fresh for our lesson on Sunday.  He started off pretty good.  He seemed a little distracted by things going on outside the arena, but kept working and listening to me just looked around and whinnied a few times.  But midway through he decided to stop and balk!  He tested me for a moment, but eventually I got him going and he was great afterwards.  We ended with some nice stretching trot.

On Monday I planned to go for a little hack around the property, since I thought maybe a day out of the arena would do him good.  But it was so foggy I could barely see anything!  So instead I decided to lunge him a bit with our balancing side reins, which we haven't done in a while.  Cupid was good, if a touch lazy.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Lone Tree Farm Hunter Pace

We had a jump lesson on Friday in preparation for our weekend outing, and it was fantastic!  Cupid and I did an entire course of jumps, around 18" crossrails and verticals including a one stride combo.  We trotted in and cantered out.  I tried for one left-to ride lead change but didn't get it.  But more importantly I kept my composure several times through the course, and Cupid was very responsive throughout!

Saturday I just did an easy ride, warming up outside the ring, then doing a few circles, serpentines, leg yields, and walk-trot transitions.  Then we walked a loop around the property.  He worked hard all week, but I didn't want him too fresh for Sunday!  I didn't give him a full bath but did rinse him off.  He doesn't love baths but is good about standing, and doesn't whinny anymore like he used to in the wash rack.

On Sunday I woke up at 5am and drove to the barn as the sun was coming up.  I gave Cupid a quick grooming, and wrapped his legs.  We loaded all our gear the day before, so we just had to load the horses and away we were!  Cupid loaded perfectly, the last horse in my trainer's 3 horse slant load.

It was about a 2 hour drive.  Unloading from the 3rd spot is a little awkward, but I can mostly get Cupid turned around to unload head first.  I walked him a few minutes so he can stretch his legs, and he was very good, probably the best he's been first arriving at a new location.  He stood tied to the trailer while I tacked him up and put on his closed front boots.

Once I got on Cupid he got a little antsy.  We walked circles and figure-8s a few minutes while I waited for my barn mates to finish tacking and mounting.  The ground was full of rocks, it looked like we were in an old river bed so I was a little worried Cupid would bruise his feet or trip!  We walked over to a little "warm up" area, which was a long narrow enclosed area with grass footing.  Cupid spooked a little, I think from the flag course markers whipping in the wind but I'm not sure.  We walked for a few minutes, then started trotting some circles.  Cupid was anxious, but being good.  The warm up got very crowded, so it was a little hard finding space.  Before too long it was our turn to go, and I went in a pair with my trainer.

The first course was just to trot around the field inside the jumps.  When Cupid started getting too quick we would transition back to a walk for a few steps.  This was the first time I've ridden him on grass, but he seemed comfortable going on it and didn't try to stop and eat.  We did it in pairs with my trainer on her horse, and Cupid didn't like getting passed!  He seemed happier being in front, so we stayed ahead of the other horse.  Cupid was a little unsure about walking by a giant downed palm tree, but we passed it with only a little side eye.  Before we knew it we made it all the way around.

We went back into the warm up ring, and jumped the practice log a few times.  I trotted in, and made Cupid halt after.  It took a few extra strides to pull him up, but not too bad.  Then my trainer got on Cupid and took him around in pair with her other student for the elementary jumping round.  She said he was good, except stopped to look at the final coop.  Then it was my turn, and my trainer came with me on her horse.  In the pairs class at least one person has to go over each obstacle.  So my trainer said no pressure, do as much as I am comfortable with and she will do the others.  We ended up jumping each jump, mostly logs and one ditch, except the last coop.  At first I said I was not going to jump it.  Then when I saw it ahead I said you know what let's go for it!  But then Cupid started getting a little squirelly so I kind of bowed out.  Even when we passed it Cupid was tense, so I don't think it was the jump it was just kind of a spooky corner in front of the warm up. 

Overall I was very happy with both of us!  My goal for this event was to sit up straighter, and my trainer said I did much better than last time we went out.  And Cupid, even though he got a little quicker than I'd like sometimes he did come back down when I asked.  So overall it was a very positive experience and confidence builder for me!

Cupid got Monday off, but in the morning for some reason he really wanted to come out of his stall.  Usually he just wants to eat his breakfast hay, but today he was pacing around and kept standing at the door.  So I put his halter on and let him amble around the property a little, eating grass and smelling things.  I checked his temperature to make sure he was any worst the wear after our adventure.  I also put a little magic cushion in his feet Sunday night, just in case.  Even though we mostly were on grass, he did have to walk across the rocks to get there.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I was out of town on a family vacation and my trainer was at a horse show, so Cupid got a few days off.  He started off a little cranky in our lesson last Thursday, but we worked through it and hopefully a few days off will have him refreshed.  It wasn't anything too bad, but he felt short strided when we first started trotting, and just a little dull.

I didn't want to ride him the next day, but was a bit torn since I was going to be gone the next several days.  So instead we did a groundwork session.  We walked over poles on the ground, poles raised on one side, and the flower box.  We walked in between barrels.  We backed up, and moved haunches.  Then I set up the poles in a U on the ground.  We walked through it a few times, then backed through it.  We still need to work on straightness backing up, but we did get through without touching the poles.  Cupid seemed pretty interested in what we were doing, I think he enjoyed a little change in the routine. 
Coming through the U
I think he knew they were fake, but wanted a taste anyways!
Tuesday morning was our first ride back, and in addition to having several days off it was also very foggy.  Cupid was a little quick, but he was listening.  Well I thought he was quick, but my trainer said he was forward and it was a good thing. :p  I felt a little rusty, and my lower back was hurting, but I tried to sit up straighter and keep my hips open.  I was collapsing through the side a little, and not stretching down through my left leg as well.  We worked on bending, counter bending first on the arena long sides then on a circle.  We did transitions between walk and trot, then trot and canter.  We were a little slow with picking up the left lead canter, sometimes having a few running steps.  We had a few nice moments when Cupid was on the bit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Friday - Cupid got a well deserved day off!

Saturday - I tacked Cupid up in my jump saddle for our lesson, but the arena was pretty busy and the footing was a little uneven (several big wet spots) so we ended up doing flatwork.  Cupid was very good about staying focused with all the activity around him.  We even had a horse come over a jump coming towards us pretty close, and Cupid was not bothered.  We spent a lot of time on a 20 meter circle or down at one end of the arena because of all the traffic (including a lunging horse down at the other end, 2 flat lessons, and someone jumping).  I'm not feeling Cupid reaching for the bit like a did a few weeks ago and would like to get that connection back, but I am happy with how mature he has been behaving!

I gave Cupid a full bath after our lesson, for the first time in a while.  

Sunday - My trainer rode Cupid.  She said they worked mainly on getting his hind end under him.  She did the same exercises I have been doing in lessons, like trotting a 20 meter circle, doing a 10 meter circle in sitting trot, and going back on the bigger circle.  She said he was very good.

Monday - Cupid and I went on a hack around the property.  He was good, no spooks.  We trotted up one little hill, and did some bending exercises and little leg yields on the wider paths.

Tuesday - We had a jumping lesson.  It started off very good as we warmed up over a cross rail, first trotting then cantering from both directions.  There were 2 other horses being ridden and one lunged in the arena, but Cupid was focused on the job.  We had one long spot, but then I tried to half halt a few strides before the jump and make sure I was sitting up all the way to the base.  Once Cupid added a stride without me asking, he is learning that is what we want him to do!

Then I was coming around, and hadn't realized my trainer raised the jump to a vertical, and the two other horses were right around the fence too so I got a little distracted, thought about circling but went ahead to the jump, and we knocked the rail.  But we went back and did it a few times clean.

Then we did a little course: starting with the vertical on the left lead, circle back to another vertical on the diagonal, then a figure-eight to a cross rail on the other diagonal and back over the first fence again - my trainer initially said 5 strides but it was an even 6 for us each time.  We went through it a few times, but my anxiety was building even though it was going well.  So my trainer lowered the first jump back to a cross rail and the second jump to the ground, and told me to just focus on the flatwork in between the jumps!  Then made me go through the last line twice more after, saying I can do this and need to push myself a little to grow.

Wednesday - Lunge line lesson.  Cupid trucked around like an old school horse!  Even when I was doing loosening exercises like windmilling my arms, lifting my legs straight off his sides, looking up at the roof, and leaning all the way back he just flicked an ear back at my like what on earth is going on up there, before shrugging it off and continuing on.  I was thinking he could be a good therapy horse one day in the distant future.  We put side reins on and looped the reins through the throatlatch so I can really focus on my seat.

I always knew I had tight hip flexors (joys of being a runner), but I never really thought about how it affected my riding.  A few years ago my old trainer had me doing the lifting the legs exercise and I remember it hurting, and I really felt it today.  I held it for about 5 seconds, short rest, and we did it many times.  It hurt at first, but after a few times wasn't as bad.  My trainer didn't know I had trouble with this, but said it makes sense that it is more natural and comfortable for me to lean forward because it keeps my hips closed.  I'm going to try to do more hip opener exercises off the horse and hopefully that will help.

We did posting 2 beats sitting one beat up.  Then we took the stirrups off and I practiced sitting trot.  I tend to try to clamp down with my legs to hold myself down, my trainer told me to sit deep on my pockets, and relax my legs even if I bounce more.  Cupid didn't seem bothered by my bouncing, he was being great!

Then we put the stirrups back and took the lunge line off, and I went around the arena a few times trying to stay in the correct position.  I think my seat and upper body were better, but it makes it harder for me to keep the contact in the reins!  It's hard putting it all together!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Jump School

I tacked Cupid up with our jumping saddle and running martingale, not sure if we would jump or not.  I was a little concerned about his slight stumbles, my wandering mind, and a slight disconnect recently.  But I figured if nothing else, we may do some poles.

Warm up started out a little sticky.  Cupid just seemed tired and cranky.  I rode a little in two-point, but it was a bit hard to keep him going.  In the canter we were supposed to go medium canter in two-point on the long sides, and shorten and sit on the short sides, but I let him drop to a trot a few times on the long sides.  My trainer said to go on the diagonal, then bend and apply leg at the corner to try to get a lead change.  But we did not get it, either direction. 

Cupid didn't feel off or anything, he just seemed tired though I'm not sure why because we haven't worked that hard.  But I didn't feel any of the tripping or slipping behind today, so we decided to try a little crossrail.

We trotted it a few times each direction, and Cupid perked up a little.  We cantered it a few times, and Cupid was super good, he kept a nice even pace before and after the jump.  Coming on the left lead I asked Cupid to jump a little too long.  It was the wrong decision, but at least I thought about it and made a decision.  But my trainer said for where we are now in our training, and given the size jumps getting too close is always a better decision.  We talked about it a little, and I think I need to do some work over poles to improve my eye.  But afterwards I worked on sitting up before the jump and getting him to the base, and the rest of our jumps were pretty good!

Then we added a 2 stride line after the crossrail.  Cupid stayed nice and relaxed, and didn't rush even when he saw the 2nd jump ahead.  Then we added one more cross rail after.  We ended with a 6 crossrail course, and it went very well!  I was very happy with Cupid and how even he stayed.
I gave him electrolytes, in case that helps his energy and since it is finally starting to not feel like winter.  He is getting a well deserved day off tomorrow!

Highs and Lows

We had a little rough patch where I felt like we've been regressing since the show.  My trainer said I reverted back to my old bad habits, and I agree.  I've been dealing with a little stress, and my mind has been a little preoccupied so I haven't been as focused while riding.  But, I know this is part of the sport, especially with a younger horse.

After the show I was gone a few days for a work trip.  My trainer rode Cupid, and said the first ride (after 2 days off) he was a little distracted but they worked through it.  She rode him again the next day and said they jumped and he was great.  They did a 5 stride line and a 2 stride line, and she said after they'd gone through it Cupid was landing on the correct leads.

Thursday - I had a lesson including a bit of time on the lunge line.  I still held the reins but a little looser, so I can really focus on sitting back properly.  Cupid was super good, my trainer joked that Cupid could do beginner lessons.  Although his trot is still not very comfortable! 

Friday - We had a joint lesson with my trainer's student we sometimes ride with.  Always a fun change of pace!  Cupid was good, though I think sometimes trotted a little faster to try to catch up.  We did our warm up and flat work together, and took turns cantering.  Then we did a grid exercise, starting with a single pole, trotting in and cantering out and halting after.  Then it became a cross rail, one stride to a pole, and halt.  We ended with two cross rails and a halt.  Cupid did try cantering in front of the first jump a few times, so I tried coming in at more of a sitting trot which helped keep him from cantering.  He was good at halting.  Then after the halt, we did a canter circling around to another cross rail.  Cupid got a little quick, but overall was good.

Saturday - Cupid was a little on edge, I'm not sure why.  We rode in the arena with just one other horse, and Cupid was a little distracted and quick.  I didn't have a whole lot of time, so we walked around, then did a little leg yielding at the walk.  Then we trotted on a circle, and once I felt safe that Cupid wouldn't try anything naughty we trotted around the arena doing a lot of circles and figure eights using the jumps to help guide our route.  I mostly just wanted him to bend and pay attention.

Monday - I started riding Cupid outside the arena to warm up, and he got a little bug eyed over a pile of white boards on the ground.  We made our way to the outdoor arena where he had a hard stare at a chair outside the ring.  He was just in one of those moods where he was looking for excuses to spook!  But he was being pretty good, and was not quick.  Actually he was almost a little lazy.  We practiced riding some circles and squares, and did a short canter each direction.  Then we had to leave the arena to let the tractor come in and drag.  So we walked around outside, and then Cupid spooked at someone raking.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tuesday - I told my trainer my last two rides weren't great.  Nothing bad, just feeling like we're a little disconnected and regressed back to where we were a few months ago.  She agreed that I was reverting back to some of my old bad habits.  Hopefully eventually sitting up straighter with my elbows bent, hands closed, and legs long will feel natural and I can do it even if my mind is elsewhere.  We ended up having a pretty good lesson, although my new problem was collapsing through my side, on the inner rib cage.  We did a good amount of sitting trot, although most of the time I think I was just hovering over the saddle not really sitting.  Our transitions between walk and trot were very good both ways, but picking up the canter from the trot was not smooth.  Cupid had one stumble (my fault I think trying to correct too hard keeping him on a 10 meter circle), but a few other times too when it felt like his hind end slipped out a little bit.  He didn't feel off, but something to keep an eye on.

Wednesday - The saddle fitter came out.  We did a fairly simple ride but I think had 5 saddle changes!  I was very happy with how patient and well behaved Cupid was.  Especially since it was in the evening, not his usual schedule and with the arena a little busier then we're used to.  (But luckily there were no naughty horses in the arena Cupid was picking up on!)  I couldn't tell that much difference between the saddles, I didn't dislike any of them.  We ended up going back to one of the first ones I had, the County Competitor.  Cupid felt a better today, but still had a few very minor stumbles.  It feels to me like he may have strained his stifles a little or possibly hocks, very minor, but just a little something.  I packed his feet just in case that was part of it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

KM Dressage Schooling Show - Training Level Test 1

Our first dressage show didn't go quite as planned, but it was a good learning experience.  Unfortunately we didn't arrive to the showgrounds until less than half an hour before our ride time!  So we quickly got Cupid off the trailer, my trainer tacked him up and my barnmate went to check us in and get our number while I got myself ready.  Luckily I was already wearing my show breeches and shirt under sweats!  Cupid was whinnying a little, I think confused why the other horse he traveled with wasn't coming to the arena.  He was looking around, but behaving.  We rushed through a quick warm up, barely having time to canter a few strides each direction before we had to go in the ring!

I tried to calm myself as we trotted around the outside of the 20x60 arena.  Cupid looked up at the judges booth but went by calmly.  We trotted in, I went down to a walk a few steps before X, and we had a decent halt.  We made it through the test, getting all the transitions and leads, but we were both tense.  I wasn't sitting back, but I did try to make sure I wasn't holding the reins too short.  Cupid got a tiny bit strong the second canter (to the right), but came back down to a trot.  Our final halt I thought was better then I expected.  Leaving the arena I was relieved it was over, but I wasn't totally happy.  I just wished we had a little more time to get settled.

We went back to the warm up ring to do a little schooling, and Cupid was settling down.  We did some 20 meter circles with a little shoulder in, then rode through a few squares at the trot and canter.  Cupid was softening and starting to reach for the bit a little.  I was also sitting up better.  I made a joke that I wish I could ride this horse in the test, and my trainer said maybe I can, let's see if there is a spot open for us to go again.  Be careful what you wish for!  I got nervous again, which did affect my riding. 

We rode our test a second time, much more relaxed.  We had one error where I let Cupid transition from the canter to a trot a marker early, and I decided to just keep going.  He was getting a little tired I think, though we didn't work that hard maybe it was just the nerves.  But overall I thought it was pretty good.
A few softer moments in the warm up ring
I was a little surprised that my scores were pretty similar for the two test, the second time being just over a point more.  I ended up just under 60%, which I was a little disappointed about I did want to get at least 60.  Most of the comments included "Obedient, but..." and then "above the bit" or "needs more stretch".  The rider comment was "hunt seat position", not surprising.  I shouldn't laugh but it was a little funny - my trainer said something about lunge line lessons.

Overall I was very happy with Cupid.  Even though he was nervous, I felt like he was trying hard to be good.  I think the judge saw that too, hence all the obedient comments.  We both need to learn to relax, but this was a good stepping stone.
Ready to go home!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

XC Schooling!

We have mostly been focusing on our flatwork and preparing for our dressage test, but took a little break today to go cross country schooling at the Horse Park!  My trainer was on foot coaching, and we had another horse and rider to keep us company.  Cupid was good standing tied to the trailer while I tacked him up.  He got a little antsy when we mounted up, but nothing bad.  We walked down the road and started walking down a track on the course.  Cupid spooked once when he saw another horse, but was not prancing or getting too quick.  I tried hard to stay relaxed in my body and not let my reins get too short.

We went to a spot by a water complex.  We walked around a few times, each direction, then crossed the water.  Cupid did not hesitate walking in, but did paw a little in the water!  My trainer was worried he wanted to roll!  But he kept walking.  We walked through it several times.  Then we trotted around the water, and eventually trotted through it too.  I didn't really feel ready to canter at first.  Cupid was being very good but he was looking around a little.  I kept focusing on breathing and trying to stay relaxed, and not choking up my reins.  We had a few nice relaxed moments, when I could sit back and I felt Cupid come round a little.

We took a little break while the other pair did a little canter work.  Cupid stood very nicely next to my trainer, very relaxed.  Then it was our turn again and we did a few transitions between trot and walk.  I was feeling good and brave enough to try a canter, and Cupid was perfect and relaxed!  We cantered a bit circle around the water.  Then we changed direction and did it all to the left.  Again Cupid was perfect.

I was tempted to quit while we were ahead, but my trainer wanted us to jump a little log.  We trotted up, I tried very hard to sit up.  Cupid smoothly and calmly hopped over, cantered a few strides, and came back to the trot when I asked.  Yay!!  We did it a few more times on a big circle around the water, and Cupid remained relaxed.  Then we did it the other direction.  We added another log on the circle.  I was super happy with Cupid, I really couldn't have asked for more!  He seemed pretty happy too.  Afterwards he wanted to go to my trainer, and rested his chin on her shoulder which I just read is a sign of affection.  I think he was proud of himself!  We walked back to the trailer on a loose rein, and I gave him an apple.  What a good boy!!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Adventures in Dressage

I never really pursued dressage before I had Cupid, but I am enjoying it more and more and am very excited to see where it will take us.  I'm not giving up jumping, Cupid seems to enjoy it and on a good day I do too.  But dressage will help us with our jumping, as well as provide it's own set of challenges and rewards. 

As our first dressage show approaches, I had the perfect opportunity to learn from watching the riders at Rolex, and then my own trainer riding in a clinic with a classical master.  Although most of the tests were quite lovely, I was a little surprised by some of the mistakes I saw at Rolex.  Horses spooking, bucking at lead changes, or balking at the rein back.  I don't know if that makes me feel better or worst!  If the experts still have that happen, what chance do I have??  I am terrified that Cupid is going to plow through the halt, or take off at the canter and run straight out of the arena!

Saturday - I had a lesson after we got back from the clinic, right around noon.  This is not our normal routine, and during Cupid's lunch hour.  Cupid was a little spooky; nothing major but a few little sideways steps.  I thought it might be from a big folded up tarp outside the arena, so I stepped out of the arena a minute to let him take a look at it.  First I just made him walk past it a few feet away.  Then I turned him to it, and as he walked up I could feel his heart beating.  He put his nose on it and seemed okay.  The hay truck came through while we were riding, and I thought Cupid would be grumpy that he had to work but he was good.  I had the german martingale on, which really helps me maintain a steadier contact and Cupid felt really good.

We went through our training level test a few times.  Even though the elements are the same things we have been working on, and did in our warm up, it is more nerve wracking to ride it as a test!  My position got quite a bit worst, as I was leaning forward and riding very defensively.  This is one of my biggest goals for this year to get over this, but clearly I am not there yet.

Well deserved meal after our lesson
Sunday - Another midday lesson.  It was quite warm, Cupid was already a little sweaty when I brought him in from the pasture.  So I was expecting him to be grumpy that he had to work through lunch, in the heat, but he was fabulous!  I had the german martingale on him again, toward the end we tightened it a hole for a little trot work including circles, shoulder fore, and leg yielding.  Cupid did not seem to mind the martingale, he felt very soft and round and wonderful!  I was a lot more relaxed as well.

After our ride I hosed him off.  It hasn't been this warm in quite a while!
Post bath

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Since Cupid and I are maturing in our development, with less new revelations, I think recapping several lessons/rides will work best to capture our training. 

Friday - Flatwork, working in several elements from our dressage test.  There was a 2 person lesson in the arena, so I stayed at one end of the arena, close to the size of a short dressage court.  I practiced straight lines and 20 meter circles, and centerline turns and halts.

Saturday - We had a lesson in a slightly busy arena.  First there was a slightly exuberant horse jumping, then a group of beginner riders.  Cupid was a little distracted and quick, but I tried to keep my body relaxed and my posting slow.  We worked on square turns, and going to the right I think it went better at the canter than the trot!

Sunday - Day off.  I gave Cupid a good grooming and did some tack cleaning. 

Monday - Rode in outdoor.  It was very foggy, and the dressage boards and letters up for the first time since last fall, but Cupid was not distracted.  The footing felt great!  We practiced our circles, trying to make sure we only touch the rail not follow it.  Did a little leg yielding and shoulder fore.  Cupid was very good and felt great!  But I did feel like my leg was flapping around a little, I was in the flatter dressage saddle.  We cooled off by walking around the property.  Cupid stopped in front of a mat on the ground and snorted at it, which was unusual because he's never had a problem walking over them before.  But I nudged him on and he walked over it without further ado and was good over the rest of them.

Tuesday - Lesson, flatwork.  My trainer had me put my whip behind my back and through my elbows, that was very weird!  I felt like I had t-rex arms.  We worked on transitions between walk and trot, and trot and canter.  My legs didn't feel like they were flapping this time, but I was having more trouble keeping my heels down.  As evidenced by me losing a stirrup cantering on a circle. :/  Still have some work to do in that area.

Wednesday - My trainer rode Cupid.  She said she rode in the afternoon, and Cupid was pretty good about not getting distracted but did whinny once or twice.  She jumped him over a little crossrail a few times, then went up to a vertical.  Cupid knocked the vertical the first time, then started jumping really big, and getting a little excited.  They went back down to the crossrail until Cupid relaxed again.  Also did some halts after jumps.  My trainer said Cupid's balance felt improved. 

Thursday - Lesson, and Cupid was having one of those days when he is just looking for excuses to spook at things!  Nothing major, just a jump sideways here and there at things he normally wouldn't react to.  As long as he's not getting quick I don't really get tense.  After we warmed up, my trainer took down a grid, so we just had a crossrail at the first element and three sets of standards afterwards.  We were to go through and halt.  The first time Cupid did a little spook after the jump, perhaps because of the disassembled jump on the side, but the halt was good.  We went through a few more times, than added a pole one stride from the jump.  Then the pole became a second crossrail.  We kept going through and halting after, but had some issues staying straight.  Sometimes the whole line was a bit bent, other times we were straighter coming through the grid but got crooked halting.  My trainer said I wasn't keeping my leg on and that's why Cupid got crooked when I ask for a halt. Then we added a pole at the 4th standard, which was 4 strides from the second crossrail (perhaps intended as a big 3).  I tried to make sure to sit up after the jump, and we got the 4 strides smoothly.  Then we made the final element a crossrail, with the halt after.  It was hard to halt before the rail after the last jump, we got right up to the mirror a few times!  My trainer asked me to halt after the 2nd jump, before the 3rd and that was kind of a disaster where I ended up pulling Cupid up next to the jump in a panicked moment when I wasn't sure if we were going to halt, jump over, or crash through.  So she changed it to a ground pole and gave me a few extra feet.  It was still hard, I could not do it straight.  But it did get Cupid listening to me on landing, and not rushing though.  We put the last jump back up and went through a few more times, and ended with Cupid going through very relaxed and halting after.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter week recap

My trainer was gone at an event, so Cupid and I were on our own.

Thursday - I rode in the covered arena with one of the trial dressage saddles.  Our primary focus was on straight lines and square turns, including some square cloverleafs.  I also tried to sneak in plenty of transitions between gaits, including halts.  We did a little canter work, starting on the left.  I tried shortening a little on the short sides and pushing a bit down the long sides.  Also worked in a few 20 meter circles on the ends of the arena.  We cut through the middle of the arena for a trot change, but took more trot steps than ideal.  I probably should have redone it, but I didn't.  We did the same shortening/lengthening and circles to the left.

Friday - My knee was hurting because I took a clumsy fall off a curb, so we just did an easy hack around the property.  At the walk I tried changing from a long rein back to contact.  In the arena sometimes when I let him take a break and walk on a long rein, he sometimes gets a little cranky when I take the contact back up (ie. get ready to go back to work), but he was good outside. 

Saturday - Another hack day, but we trotted a few slopes and also did a few transitions between walk and trot.  There was a lot of activity going on around the property (including an ambulance and fire truck, hope everyone was okay), but Cupid was good.  A tractor was dragging one of the pastures causing the horses in the pasture to stampede, and Cupid got a little excited and wanted to go join them, but I kept him walking and he settled back down once they were out of sight.

Sunday - Happy Easter!  No riding today.  Got a text from the barn manager that Cupid came in from turnout with a scratch, but nothing serious.

Monday - Back to the ring, trying the other saddle.  I was a little short on time, we did about half an hour of walk trot.  This time we worked on bending, weaving around the jumps in the arena doing different size circles, loops, and changes of directions.  We had a few nice moments where I could feel Cupid reaching into the bridle!  We also did a little stretchy trot.

Tuesday - Flatwork lesson.  Continued working on my position, effective aids, and proper use of the outside rein.  Did trot and canter moving between working and medium gaits.  Then did a little lateral work; leg yielding and shoulder fores at the trot.  Early in the lesson, when I was getting ready pick up our first trot in warm up, Cupid sensed it and started getting a little crooked and balky so I reminded him with the whip to pay attention.  He was very good after that.  Much better than me having to nag him the whole time!  My trainer commented on how much my position has been improving.  She didn't notice until after the lesson that I was riding in the other saddle, the one we previously thought might tip me forward.  I still have a ways to go but the progress is encouraging!

I'm not sure which saddle I like more, they both feel pretty good to me.  I think the blocks do help me lengthen my leg, but I don't want to be too reliant on them!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tale of Twos

I've come across a few interesting dichotomies my last few rides.  I had one ride where Cupid was being a little lazy.  Our walk to trot transitions were not very good, it took about 6 steps.  But he went back down to a walk right away.  Then a day later he was much more energized, and our walk to trot was pretty good but I was having a hard time getting back down to the walk.  I know I'm a big part of the problem; if he is being quick I pinch with my knees and thighs and then I can't really sit deep in the saddle to ask him to transition down.  And when he's lazy I just nag him with little nudges instead of asking more firmly once.  But I especially need to work on relaxing when he is more keyed up, because that's the version I'm going to get at a show!

Then I have two dressage saddles I'm trying.  With the first one it seems to put my upper body in a better position, and helps me not lean forward as much.  Which is great!  But the other one has knee blocks and helps my lower leg stretch down.  I think this was the first time my trainer ever told me I don't have to push my heels down quite so much!  But in this saddle my upper body was not as good. 

Today in our lesson we jumped for the first time in almost two months.  Just a tiny crossrail.  We started with poles on the ground, which I did in my ride yesterday as well to make sure Cupid didn't think it was too exciting.  When my trainer was setting up the crossrail she commented that Cupid's ears were perked, and he seemed to know what was coming and was happy about it.

We just did the one crossrail on a large circle; coming in at the trot, landing at the canter, then coming back to a trot before the fence.  We started off going to the right, and it was going well.  We had one where Cupid jumped it kind of long, then landed cross cantering.  I did a trot change to get him cantering correctly and we came around to do it again, and it was another long spot.  My trainer then noticed that the pole in front of the jump had rolled forward, and Cupid was just trying to figure out how to maneuver it without hitting the pole.  So she adjusted the pole back to the correct spot and we had two very nice jumps.

Then we switched directions and it wasn't quite so smooth.  Cupid got a little quick; I think I was worried about getting the left lead, plus we were going towards the gate, and it was a bit tighter turn so I think all that make me more anxious and lean forward.  So my trainer had me circle before the jump and make sure he was bent coming into the jump.  She said that when I was coming in on the right I was smiling, and on the left I just looked anxious.  So something for me to work on, being more relaxed.

I was very happy with Cupid, how good and relaxed he was after not jumping for so long.  (Even though the jump was tiny!)  He was also very cute when we were starting out we trotted over the poles, then picked up the canter halfway around the circle before coming back to a trot.  After doing it twice he figured out the exercise and I barely had to ask him for him to canter.  He was smart enough to figure it out, but still was listening and not trying to take over.
No new pictures so an outtake from his stir crazy stall rest days

Being weird and eating bark off the tree - is this bad for him?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Back to Work, Refreshed

Cupid's wound is almost completely healed, though he still has a bit of a lump.  I've been putting his back on track wraps on, hopefully that thermal heat might help.  He is back in regular turn out.  The pasture has finally dried, and he is happy to be out with his buddies.  I observed him a little the first day, but it was after a lesson so he wasn't too active.  But a few days later he did have a little kick mark on his flank, luckily it didn't seem to bother him.
So happy to be back out with his buddies!

Almost healed!
After my somewhat disastrous first ride trying out the saddle, Cupid has quickly focused and gotten back to work.  He has been light and forward, I think he is feeling pretty good!  My trainer thinks he seems to like the saddle.  I don't know if it's that or the month off, but I'll take it.

We have kept is relatively simple as we ease back to work, not starting anything new.  This is allowing me to focus more on myself as I try to get used to adopting the traditional dressage seat.  My upper body is getting better, but I still need to get out of the habit of nudging up with my heels instead of squeezing with my lower leg.  And on not relying on my inside rein. 

We are increasing our training a bit, adding some additional lessons and my trainer will be riding Cupid more.  As a very self-sufficient person I've thought a lot about this.  I am very proud of how far we've come up to now, but I've pretty much taught him everything I know, this is about as high as my riding education ever got, so her riding will help both of us progress to the next step.

I couldn't resist, since he destroyed his old fleece