Horse Life

When a Pro Rides Your Horse…

He will make that horse look like a majikal unicorn.


BAHAHAHAAHA, YEAH RIGHT. This is Pilgrim we’re talking about, y’all. P don’t care what your accomplishments are.


P is perpetually unimpressed

Yesterday we had a lesson with Trainer B. At our lesson last Friday, Trainer P commented that he’d like to try out one of Pilgrim’s multiple personalities sit on him to get a feel for him. Of course I tried to get him to hop on right then and there before my arms broke from trying to hold back the tornado that was my pony that day, but apparently wearing regular pants, tennis shoes and not having your helmet there was a deterrent.

So just to make sure we were on the same page, I texted him as we were heading out to let him know not to forget his helmet. Because I had zero plans for riding my horse that day.


Now before you say that’s cruel, P had some pretty awesome rides Monday & Tuesday. Monday we hopped around some jumps and Tuesday we did some dressaging in addition to becoming zen with green carpet.

Oh yeah, P has a new stall decoration.


And he got to wear it.




And he also got to W/T/C over it until there was nary a hesitation in his step.

Because this horse stops at anything turf covered. Roll tops, boxes, etc. Even if you let him look at it beforehand, he ALWAYS stops the first time, then goes over the 2nd. Super fun when turf covered boxes are part of the first jump on course, as they were at our HT last month.


We jump the same roll top at Trainer B’s every week. P has successfully jumped it dozens of times. But each time, he has stopped at it when he’s first pointed at it, then gone over on attempt #2. So Trainer B suggested hanging some of the carpet in his stall. Check.

Back to the lesson. Trainer B got on straight away and put P through his paces. P’s behavior was typical Pilgrim, which was good because I felt like he represented fairly well what it’s like to ride him on a normal basis. He wasn’t super bolty, or extra spooky, nor was he a dead head or lazy. He was up, slightly rushy, a little testy, but controllable.

It was really eye-opening to see the differences in our warmups. I tend not to ask for too much too soon, lest I blow P’s mind before the actual work begins. But Trainer B went right into trainer mode, and was shortening and lengthening each gait, halting, reining back, working laterally, flexing side to side…it was my warmup x infinity.


Once P was really listening, he took him over a cross-rail a few times, then went right for the Almighty Roll Top. It was still set in the same place as when we were there on Friday, with the same 2 poles above it, making it either 2’6″ or 2’9.”

I held my breath and watched through one eye, and P went over it. There was some definite hesitation, but he went over.


Then he halted and went for it the opposite direction and P slammed on the brakes. Sigh. So Trainer B did what he always has me do and just backed him up, and sent him forward again. Well, he always goes over it the 2nd time, at least.


Except P slammed on the brakes again. WTF?  So Trainer B kicked him a few times, backed him up again, and this time P went over it, though quite dramatically. So he patted him, then took him to a different fence, and P hopped over it. He jumped him around a bunch of fences, including a 6 stride line, and P didn’t refuse anything else. Unfortunately I have zero media because I left my phone in the barn.


I really wish one of us had thought to have him get on P towards the beginning. It was nice to know that what I’m feeling isn’t just in my head, and that P really is a bit tricksy.

So here are the takeaways.

The pros:

P is very trainable, very smart, and more than capable of jumping whatever he’s pointed at.

The cons:

P is very smart and has figured out how to make me dumb down what we’re doing so he doesn’t have to work so hard.

Trainer B said that to pretty much every fence he could see what I see- the long spot. But what that was doing was giving P his head too soon, which gives him time to stop. So to counteract that, the key will be to keeping him packaged to pretty much every fence and making him wait until the base. That’s going to take some muscle memory reversal on my part, but I suppose I’m used to that by now. The last thing I would’ve thought to do on a horse that has stopped so many times is to take more contact, but it worked for Trainer B yesterday  so I’ll give it a go. Because we’re basically the same rider and I’m sure I can replicate his riding exactly.


My job now is to work on adjusting the canter, something I’ve realized lately that I don’t work on really at all. I mean, I usually canter a few laps each direction while warming up, but besides that and cantering while jumping, I don’t actually focus on it too much, which is a huge fail. Trainer B was making P change his canter every few strides or so, so P has the ability to do it, now I just need to demand it. So that’s our major homework until we see him again next Thursday.

So much to work on all the time!







15 thoughts on “When a Pro Rides Your Horse…”

  1. My coach has me changing all the paces now…she said I have to do 5,000 transitions between or in the gaits, like lengthen, collect, downward, upward. Good news was I did like 12 in my lesson. Only 4988 to go LOL. I feel your pain.

    Liked by 1 person

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