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We Are Flying Solo

January 30, 2013

I Have No Words

So you'll just have to read it yourself.

You see, we have been busy.  Physical therapy is momentarily taking over my life, but I've been doing my best to squeeze in Encore wherever and whenever we can build strength. 

Although the dork went and kicked himself in the front fetlock sometime yesterday, so that was nice and hot and swollen, sigh.  Please be just a knock, please be just a knock, please be just a knock....

It's been a bit of an opportunity to reboot things, though, and one that I've found has offered a chance to elevate the sophistication of our training.  The details are very, very difficult to elucidate, so much of it is feel and reaction and less contact and more contact and energy direction and waiting and very careful thought.  The basics are the same simple paradigms of correct training:  ride the back end of the horse and ride the horse straight.  But as we all know, there is NOTHING simple about that and as George Morris quite correctly stated in his training session this year, it only takes about 30 years to learn how to do it.

Thus, probably disappointingly, I give you my reading material of late, which has led to just a few tiny adjustments which in turn caused a big change in my horse, letting go of the tension, saying goodbye to wrestling, and although it requires MUCH more patience, is creating a much more solid foundation this time around.

Via -- which is also well worth reading.
Watch Deb Bennett's lectures, selectable from the sidebar.  Yes, they are a bit over-wordy, I confess to skipping through sections, as they could have been reduced to about 30 minutes and still been effective.  And of course, watch George and Anne teach, especially when riding -- I still learn every year, new skills and new layers to add to my toolbox.

Read the three articles in the right sidebar.  The biomechanics of straightness and the freedom it gives your horse, with some excellent mental images for your contact, really resonated with me for some reason.

A large part of what I've taken away thus far is that I need to do MORE engaging of the inside hind through lateral exercises as THIS is what creates straightness and impulsion in my horse.  I was rarely able to truly engage Solo over his back successfully; now I can and think I am finally on the track as to why.

Wow, life would be simpler if I just had money to buy lessons every week.  But then, I wonder if I would really dig as deeply if I did. 


  1. Ahh inside hind...the key. The exercise Dorothy Crowell taught me was and has been the biggest help to me though describing it in words is completely impossible. But is all about getting the feel of the inside hind stepping under and teaching the horse that leg means step over and under himself. It is done to start with very exageratted movement from the rider. Such a simple thing but something I think people can hear over and over and they think they get it but until you truly get it until you get it. Then getting it is only the beginning of being able to learn to do it. God knows I have a looooong way to go.

  2. Yes, that is definitely an important part and one I always used; now I am seeing that there are more details of timing and more ways to use it beyond a few steps of leg yield or shoulder-in. And how to coordinate that with what the rest of the horse is doing. I can leg yield my horse all day long -- but it won't create engagement unless I can capture it and translate it into something new entirely!

  3. I guess thats why the big guys always warm up doing leg yield, shoulder in, spiral circles etc. Gotta engage that hind end and supple the ponies.

  4. Indeed! I finally understand WHY David uses the circle of bendy death in all of our lessons!

  5. my trainer has been having me do this with my youngster (granted, who has done zero lateral work prior since he's not been under saddle for super long): take him straight to the rail, half halt, ask him to swing his hip out so you're at like a 45 degree angle to the rail, then ask him to do some lateral steps and straighten out when he does it correctly, go a few steps and praise, repeat. hopefully getting quicker/more correct responses that can be held for longer as you progress. She wants me to do it for ten minutes every ride, and so far it really really has helped in straightness and response. thanks for the reading material :)

  6. Good exercise! Gosh, I remember that one from when I was a kid, but haven't used it in forever. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. "Wow, life would be simpler if I just had money to buy lessons every week"

    Right there with you! Maybe the progress we make sticks better because it took so much effort and concentration to get there?! That's what I keep telling myself anyway. :D

  8. Oooo, I like that CFS, that sounds much better!

  9. I LOVE Dr. Deb Bennett...amazing anatomist and great teacher to have. If you are looking for more reading material, might I suggest going to her website (if you haven't already) at, and reading everything she has in the "Knowledge Base" section. Awesome, awesome, stuff for good lifelong horsemanship.

  10. Abbie, I did and it was fantastic! I have heard her name for a few years, but hadn't really a reason to look into it until now. Love the scientific precision matched with plain common sense!

  11. One of our focus areas at Understanding the Horse is biomechanics. It's a buzzword nowadays, but we are trying to teach people what the science of biomechanics is and how to apply it to horse and rider. Check out our blog, where Dawn Adams, Ph.D. has done a lot of blogs about biomechanics and will be doing more. We are prepping now for a presentation at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, but should be back to blogging after that event at the beginning of March. :-)

  12. I think I forgot to give the url, which is . :-)