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Friday, September 11, 2009

20 Meter circles are evil

Do you know why 20 meter circles are one of the first patterns a newbie dressage rider does? My trainer told me that a long time ago the "ancients" figured out that a 20 meter circle is the natural amount of bend that a green dressage horse will have when asked to flex.

Farley did not get the memo.

Farley prefers the 5 meter circle.

You know, the overbent-shoulder poppingout-leaning out type of circle.

This is what I find ironic. What she's doing to herself is WAY harder than what I'm asking her to do. She's trying every evasive maneuver in the book of "For Mares only: How to frustrate your rider". In those few moments of enlightenment, we are trotting our 20 meter circle with rhythm, impulsion, and grace. It's beautiful and it's quiet. The rest of the time it's a struggle for power, LOUD leg aids, tight muscles, and teeth grinding by both parties. Why does she insist on making both of us miserable? I swear she DOES know what I want, she's just not doing it to spite me....

Which brings me to my next thought - the learning curve of the horse.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Stage 1: Interested learning and curiosity - lots of try.
Stage 2: A little resistance - The horse is saying "I know what you want, but let's experiment."
Stage 3. Extreme witchiness. Every evasive maneuver possible. A test of wills and a battle to get even close to what she offered in stage 2 and 3. Resistance. I swear she knows what I want but she's going to see if I can "make" her.
Stage 4: Acceptance, trust, quiet obedience.

Last night she was in stage 3 in a HUGE way. Maybe it's the fact I'm dealing with a mare and 1/2 the process is convincing her that yes, this is a good thing to do?

As I think back, I realize that I've never tried to really "train" Farley. Yes, we did trail training - going down the trail quietly, reassuring her through "scary" situations, rating, gaits, standing for the vet checks etc. But that kind of endurance training and skill set is different than other equestrian sports. In endurance I let her make decisions about how she goes down the trail as long as it's safe and sane. In dressage, I'm expecting her to listen to me for all direction regarding speed, gait, and how she's going to move. I think it's a mind set change for her and it's going to require time.

God give me patience for my head not to explode during this time of "mental adjustment".

This weekend I'm planning a nice forward trail ride to give her a mental break.


  1. I know exactly what you mean! Have you always had mares? They are the best at the, "are you really sure you want to do this"?
    Then the "Really really?"
    Then " I think your mad for doing this, let me show you all the other things we COULD be doing instead!"
    Then finally " ok fine, have it your way, but I am still right!"

    Lucy is kinda in the other boat right now, I think she could really use some arena time where she is being asked to do something other then go down the trail. She needs to be trying new things and working with me and have things to think about other then, "my pasture tops this any day!"

    Sounds like lessons are going well!

  2. Love your description! You really get it now, huh? Remember to ride both sides to prevent the jack-knifing :) It can only get better.


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