40s, Clears, and Monsters

By Ashlynn
After riding the sassy red mare for this long, I have figured out a way to gauge her mood and attitude for the day. It’s either a thoroughbred mood, or quarter horse mood. TB moods includes wanting to be spooky, run and buck, ignore all aids, and overall be a brat. We usually work this out as we ride. Quarter moods are the more sensible ones, where she listens and responds with minimal sass, and everyone is happy.
Last Sunday at Pine Hill, Jellybean was in a quarter mood and handled her first horse trial like a champion. Despite a near collision in the warm up for dressage, Jellybean stayed cool and focused, and we went on to get a score of 40 for the test.
Then we had to wait. Jellybean entertained herself by pulling the rest of her hay out of the hay bag, then we had to get ready for stadium. In the warm up arena, we stopped at each jump before going over—I just needed more leg. That’s always the answer, sit up and more leg. After going over each jump a few more times, it was time…after we waited for a few more riders to go. As we walked in, Jellybean was focused and ready to go. We ended up getting a clear round, and walked out of the arena happily.
After a long afternoon, a nap for Jellybean, and a relaxed warm up, it was time for cross country. Now, at this point in the day, Jellybean was tired of this. The sass was showing in near full force as we went out, and she was probably thinking it was plain stupid—why do this when she could be eating or sleeping?
The second jump we refused and then walked over/on. With leg, we went over the 3rd and 4th without any issues, and then…flowers. After the 4th jump, a simple log, there was a large jump off to the side with some flowers in it. Jellybean decided they were monsters out to get her, but after a quick argument she accepted I was right, they weren’t going to attack, and we made it past. Coming around the water, there was a large prelim jump with a shadow across our path on the right—it had to be hiding a scary monster! So we sidestepped forward and sideways to avoid it…then Jellybean saw a large sand pile to the left, and backwards we went. An older lady was off to the side, shaking her head at the baby horse shenanigans as we argued back and forth—I was pushing her forward with both legs and seat, Jellybean was going backwards and sideways. We made a circle, then finally darted between the two monsters, and continued on our merry way.
The next two jumps we went over fine, after jump six there was a bucket with some more flower monsters that we darted past, and then we came up to the last jump: going, going, STOP. We circled and attempted 3 times before the team behind us caught up and passed us, and then we had another refusal. As the golf cart drove up (most likely to tell us we were done), Jellybean decided the cart was scarier than the small box jump and we finally went over. Doesn’t that just figure?
Despite the x-country refusals and elimination, Jellybean survived her first horse trial and (99% of the time) behaved like a champion. Everyone was proud of her and I can’t wait to see how the next trial goes! There are some cool pictures from the show by the official photographer here.

Dressage Lessons

Yesterday I had a dressage lesson with Knots. Knots has been really good lately. We have few moments of actual crap, and he’s usually giving at least 85% effort. Take a break… and he gives about 75%, but that’s easy enough to work with.

We have stopped fighting about the contact, and he mostly listens to my legs. We can usually respond to more than one aid at a time. It’s crazy, especially considering where we were. The only problem is that now I’m not sure what we should be working on. Twenty meter circles we can do. He doesn’t come round very often, but he is consistently bent around my leg and accepting contact, especially circle right.

All this to say, I’ve been getting bored. We just ride 20 m circles. I wasn’t really sure what the next step was, since I’ve never worked with a horse in this way. This is why lessons are so important. I asked S what we could be working on while we’re developing consistent acceptance and the beginnings of roundness. I’m not always a master of words, which led to the initial response about riding consistently, oops.

After our chat though, she gave us some different things to work on, namely transferring the feel on the 20 m circle to other movements, including the leg yield and shorter time to change the bend. She suggested some modified figure eights, with a tear drop shape or along the rail doing a circle and changing directions, but smaller and harder for Knots to work on.

On some level I feel a little dumb that I had to ask these questions, but I was feeling unsure of how to continue progressing. It’s harder to polish than to start, that’s for sure. For now though, I’m feeling reinvigorated and excited for some flat work!

Weekend picture party

I’ve been posting a lot of pictures on my instagram (@atindalla) and the Diary of a Dusty Summer Facebook Page, so here are some of the recent highlights!


Hanging out with Jellybean bareback!


Gracie’s cut is almost healed, potential proud flesh aside.


Vinny is such a good boy.


Ashlynn and Jelly at Pine Hill Oct 2


Ashlynn and Jelly at Pine Hill Oct 2


One of the nemeses on XC at Pine Hill Oct 2

Stay tuned for a show write up! Ashlynn has promised me one very soon 😉